Review: Amanda Lee Koe and The Inequality of Love and Labor

“Born in the Wrong Environs”: Amanda Lee Koe and The Inequality of Love and Labor | Anomaly | September 2018

The myth of self-reliance — not unlike neoliberal cultural rhetoric that co-opts social movements, that stresses self-optimization while ignoring socioeconomic inequalities — obscures the fact that the terms of social membership are often class-inflected and gendered. We forget that we gain self-reliance by depending on others who cannot afford it.

This critical essay analyses Amanda Lee Koe’s short story “Two Ways To Do This”, published in her Singapore Literature Prize-winning collection Ministry of Moral Panic. I analyse the story through the lens of social inequality, borrowing insights from Teo You Yenn’s seminal book of essays This Is What Inequality Looks Like, and how these insights intersect with issues of gender and domestic labour in Singapore.