Towards the Sociology of The Other Woman
Towards the Sociology of The Other Woman
Being The Other Woman is a conscious decision. A choice influenced by several factors that traverse different social classes and even religious and cultural boundaries. This practice was furthermore propelled by the advancement of technology and the portrayal of the same idea in Philippine mass media that awakened the dormant sexual liberation of Filipino women. Is this practice simply about enjoying pleasure and companionship or an exhibit of power, dominance, and control? And who are the real victims here?
For so many years, society conditioned us to see women as weak, demure, and simply there to support men in all of their endeavors. Rizal even created the concept of Maria Clara – his idea of what a true Filipina is. Is his concept a reality, a myth, or what he wants for women to be or his ideal women? Historical development about the perception of women by women and by men is important in this paper to give justice to the propagation of The Other Women.
The Wrecked Roots
During the early times, men and women in the islands now known as the Philippines were experiencing equal respect and treatment from the society. Our mythology about the origin of the first humans in the world, Si Malakas and Si Maganda, supports this claim. Both Malakas and Maganda came from the same bamboo at the same time which is totally different from the biblical accounts that say it was Adam first followed by Eve.
Another historical fact that supports this claim is the concept of Babaylan’s or Catalonan’s, the priestesses that is being respected by the Datu and the whole society. Even in the family, women are being asked by men in several situations. This situation really suggests that men and women were treated equally before the colonizers have arrived.
These equal treatments also lead to equality in how they perceived sexuality. From the accounts of Antonio Morga in his Sucessos de las Islas Filipinas, he said that women in the Philippines are sexually liberated. This sexual liberation of women only changed when patriarchy became a practice in the country – a concept brought by the colonizers and sustained by Catholicism.
In today’s pop culture, there is an abundance of the image and acceptance of the concept of having The Other Woman. Several mainstream movies and TV series portrays the said idea that lead to the awakening of the dormant sexual liberty of women. Perhaps the question is whether Philippine mass media is presenting the reality in our society or they are preparing the society to easily accept this as a reality.
Filipino women may be experiencing sexual liberty but the concept being The Other Woman is not simply about sex and sexual liberty. The interplay of technology, economics, education, social awareness, and personality are factors that greatly influence the choice of having and being The Other Woman.
The Other Woman – not a Querida
In this paper, the term The Other Woman is used rather than kabit, querida, or any other derogatory word that is connected to being The Other Woman to avoid the prejudgments that is attached to those words. In the discussion, The Other Woman will be looked at as a human being rather than the object of lust and sin and always the reason for the failing of families.
It is best to categorize The Other Woman for us to have a balanced perception towards them. In this paper, I came up with four major categories but we can also combine several categories depending on several situations.
The Financially Deprived
“Walang babaeng pinangarap maging kabit!”
-Bea Alonzo (The Mistress)
Economics could still be the most compelling reason why a woman becomes The Other Woman. She could be single or married that needs money for so many reasons. This category is common to the middle class down to last class in the stratum. It entails guts in the beginning and some eventually become hooked to the idea.
This is also a common scenario among our Overseas Filipino Workers who needs extra income to send to their family in the Philippines. This could also be dictated by society’s pressure to those OFW’s since it is expected by the society, people in the Philippines that if you are working abroad, you have a big income. The issue is survival. We can hypothesize that it would be easier if The Other Woman is single because there are no families to be wrecked and it is only her that needs to be financially supported but with the pressure coming from society and family, even though it is difficult, married woman still managed to do so for the need to send extra money for the family in the Philippines.
The Thrill Seeker – The Player
“Paano mo naman malalaman na masarap pala ‘pag di mo titikman? Kahit alam mong bawal, labanan mo cos’ eventually your body will just get used to it.”
-Anne Curtis (No Other Woman)
Like what has been mentioned earlier, Filipino women are sexually liberated even before the coming of the colonizers. This sexual liberty is dormant and only needs to be triggered and some women pulled the trigger already saying,“if men can, women can do better.”
It is true that sex is still a taboo topic in Philippine society/culture, but it does not mean that we are not practicing this idea. The Filipinos are religiously doing it regardless of social classes and perhaps even religion and culture. The incidence is also higher to those who are more academically and socially developed since they know how to deal with the situation.
These thrill-seeking women see sex as simply a game or an exercise. Sexual performance matters most for both people engaging in this carnal activity. Age matters as well.
For some thrill-seekers, it is connected to power that they posses every time that they can “play” – they usually can control their partner.
This is also common among the OFW’s who are totally free to do whatever they want overseas and also because of the communal concept of protecting each and everyone’s reputation in the Philippines.
Proximally Connected – Accidentally Involved
“The heart has its reasons which reason knows not.”
“Love knows no limit to its endurance, no end to its trust, no fading of its hope; it can outlast anything. Love still stands when all else has fallen.”
― Blaise Pascal
Being in love is also a common reason why the Other Woman exists. Most of the time, it is a result of proximity – being close to a friend that could result to a relationship. Problems or issues that the two people share together make a good foundation for this kind of relationship. This kind of relationship transcends social classes and even religious boundaries.
The Other Woman of this kind needs not to be beautiful but a good listener who is always there when needs arise.
“Hindi ko kayang mabuhay nang wala ka.Nasanay na akong kasama ka.”
All relationships are founded on dreams that you made together. You dream about the future and lasting memories. What will happen if along the way you knew that you are the Other Woman? Will you stay or simply leave the memories and dreams that the two of you created?
Some Other Woman opted to stay and continue to be the Other Woman, even though they know that it is socially unacceptable – not because they are in love with the man but because they believe that they cannot live without the man. Many of this type stay in the relationship because they are used to being with the man and believe that they cannot live or stand on their own – problem in personality perhaps.
“Walang matibay na relasyon sa kabit na may determinasyon.”
Most of the time, we look at the Other Woman as the sinner and it’s totally wrong to be one. But what is wrong with being the Other Woman? The Financially Deprived are doing it as a matter of survival; The Thrill Seeker – The Player does it for fun and to enjoy their sexual freedom and being equal with men; The Proximally Connected – Accidentally Involved became the Other Woman because they are caught in the web of love that has reasons which reason cannot figure out; and The Helpless who simply cannot stand on their own because of having a weaker personality. With the enumerated reasons, these The Other Women are actually victims but not by men but rather by the society/community that cannot understand them.
What the Other Woman does actually falls in the study of deviance – a recognized violation of cultural norms. But we must understand that deviance is not the action of bad people, but part of the way society is organized. What they are doing are actually challenging the status quo that might lead to change the perception of society towards them or perhaps strengthen the norms and in this case, strengthening the monogamous relationships.
“Remember this, no woman can seduce a happy husband. Kung hindi mo pa rin maintindihan, bakit hindi sarili mo ang sampalin mo, baka sakaling matauhan!”
– Vilma Santos (MinsanMinahal Kita)
The Real Victim
”Buong buhay ko, pakiramdam ko mag-isa ako…but not with her… nandyan siya sa lahat… she believes in me… she sees good in me, na kahit ako hindi ko mismo makita…”
– Aga Mulach(A Love Story)
Men are weak! In all categories that have been discussed, men are said to be the real victim. In The Financially Deprived, men support the women; in The Thrill Seeker – The Player, women uses her body, which is a common weakness of several men to seduce and play with them or play them in their idea of the worldly world; in The Proximally Connected – Accidentally Involved, the emotionally down men accidentally becomes involved; and in The Helpless, the women does not want to let go even though she knows that what they are doing is socially unacceptable. Perhaps, in most cases, it is the man who started everything – but it does take two to tango, and based on the enumerated reasons, it is the women who control the situation.
“Unfair noh, kapag lalaki ang nangaliwa tanggap lahat ng tao, pero kapag babae, makasalanan siya. Come to think of it meron ka na bang narinig na lalakeng tinawag na home-wrecker o kaya eh kabit?”
– Sharon Cuneta (MinsanMinahal Kita)
“Okey lang mambabae ang mister ko basta sa akin pa rin siya umuuwi.”
Eighty to 85 per cent of world’s culture favors polygyny but still the most common form of marriage worldwide is monogamy and the most common reason is economic rather than morals and the Philippines is part of this. We have a high tolerance level when it comes to the concept of having The Other Woman. One reason perhaps is because of the equal perception of both men and women in sexuality that has been proven historically. Another explanation to this higher tolerance is because of the prolonged mental conditioning that women are supposed to be demure, weak, and unworthy that they will accept anything that their man do. It could also be recognition of men’s machismo that every time their man has an affair with the Other Woman, their man becomes more macho and gives them more excitement.
If our society tolerates this practice, why then are there several laws enacted to confront the issue of having extra-marital affairs?
Laws were created to protect the interest of all people in society. Any trouble that is connected to having and being with the Other Woman, it is still the legal justice system that will prevail. But we also need to look at the issue on how the laws were created and its suitability in the society. There are several laws in the country that are hypothetically based and not patterned after the culture. We can actually say that the legal justice system is on the other end of what is happening culturally. We can easily change or create a law, but we cannot easily change a culture.
“Ang batas ay butas at ni minsan ay hindi magiging patas lalo’t likha lamang ng mga mambabatas at hindi nakaakma sa kultura kung saan ito iaatas”
Morality of Being the Other Woman in Durkheim’s Perspective
There are three components of morality according to Durkheim – discipline, attachment to society, and autonomy. Discipline is the constraint that is necessary to limit our individual or personal interests. Morality is attached to the society because the society is the source of morality. Autonomy is the determination of the people to work according to their will.
Using these components, being the Other Woman is moral. They are working according to their will; disciplined in the way it is not the personal interest that prevails and operates in the society which highly tolerates their activities.
Being the Other Woman is an issue that is always a source of heated debates. The Other Woman has been responsible for many failed relationships, and always the victim of man’s polygamous nature. But looking at it from a different perspective, we can say that the Other Woman is also a human being with several reasons why they became one. It is not fair for them to be called home-wrecker and other derogatory adjectives. They are performing a significant role in shaping our society and society’s need. What they are doing is highly tolerated in their society and still with a degree of morality.
I am not saying that we should all practice the idea of having and being the Other Woman. I am simply pushing the idea that we should respect and look at them as a real human being. #