Post-Vday Tantrum: Why It’s Not Wrong for Women to Make the First Move (2/16/2015)

There are definitely things in life that you expect but never get. More often than not the most hurting experience of not getting what you want would be related to matters of the heart. A movie that I recently saw had this as one of its “hugot” lines:

“Kung mahal mo, habulin mo, ipaglaban mo. ‘Wag mong hintaying may magtulak sa kanya pabalik sa’yo. Hilahin mo. Hanggang kaya mo, wag kang bibitaw. Sorry, mahal ko eh.” (Mace, That Thing Called Tadhana)

This is something new to all Filipino girls out there. Filipinas, who are known to be ‘mahinhin’ and conservative are expected not to be the aggressive one when it comes to love. Usually, fellow Filipinos frown at the thought of a Filipina confessing her feelings for a boy she likes. More so if that Filipina is the one ‘making the moves’ or in tagalog, ‘nanliligaw’. The movie line above was actually one of the best quoted lines from that movie which means that many Filipinas actually now believe that things are not the same as before. When before a typical Filipina would usually wait out until the boy makes the move, this time more Filipinas believe that men and women nowadays are on equal footing. Both sides can actually make the move. What’s wrong with expressing your feelings anyway? Why is it so wrong for a girl to be the one who confesses? If boys can do it, why not us girls?

The tradition of waiting out for the male to make the first move was passed down to us from our lady ancestors and its origins can be traced to the Spanish times wherein most males are the ones expected to woo the females. That was back in the time when women were not on equal footing with men. It was the time that they were treated as property and for me, I think, the reason why men are the ones expected to woo females is not because of the high value that society places on women but because of the fact that women in the family were once treated as chattel. The ones that the males are actually wooing was the head of the family, the father.

They woo the father so that he would be acceptable to giving up his daughter, his own property. It was for me a degrading gesture which I do not want to abide by at this age. This is a new generation. There is nothing wrong with women who are empowered enough to express their feelings to men so long as they do not appear cheap and throw themselves out for the man that they love. There are limits to expressions of love. Like how the popular saying goes: “Huwag mo naman ibigay lahat, magtira ka naman para sa sarili mo.”

Everything in life and not just love should be like that. Even the bible says, “Love your neighbor as you love yourself.” The ‘love yourself’ part is implied and is a condition precedent before you would be able to love someone else. Loving yourself is knowing what you can and cannot do. If you feel that you are empowered enough to be the first one to confess despite being a woman then there is nothing stopping you. It’s not as if I’m totally against women who wait for the man to make the first move, that’s totally fine. That is how they value themselves. That is also how they view their worth as a woman. I also think this is brave on their part because sometimes this leads to many regrets.

I, for once,waited a long time, 10 years to be exact. I never moved on and there are so many questions lingering in my mind all the time and among those questions, the “what ifs” are the hardest ones to contemplate on because I never had a definite answer for any of them, only speculations.

Fast forward to another point in time where I did not wait and I confessed. Despite the fact that he rejected me (which really hurt pretty bad), it was easier for me to move on because then I knew that I did my best and he knew how I really felt. My mission was complete. There were no ‘what ifs’, no regrets.

In the first scenario, whenever I still think about this person I get flustered. Also in the few times that I accidentally get to see him even from a distance, I panic. Clear signs that I haven’t really moved on. I still have that hope lingering inside of me. Those ‘what ifs’ that are so hard to erase. While in the second scenario, that boy who rejected me and I are really close friends now. We get to see each other once in a while and eat out as friends. We often share problems whenever we can. I am even quite close with his present girlfriend and she trusts me that whenever he and I are together that I’d always keep an eye on him. No hard feelings. No regrets. No panic moments. Just normal conversations.

The difference between both scenarios lies in the ‘what ifs’. In the first one, I know that I haven’t done anything for him to know how I feel about him. I haven’t even done anything at all for him to get to know me better and eventually like me for who I really am. I didn’t also give myself a chance to get to know him better. I just let him slip away. While in the second, I was secure enough to know that no matter what I did, he still only saw me as a friend. It was enough for me to erase all the doubts and the ‘what ifs’ in my mind.

Even in the movie ‘Crazy Little Thing Called Love’, Mario’s character only started to like ‘Nam’ (the female protagonist) when he first received chocolates from her (which unfortunately melted). He had a secret crush on her since then and Nam always wanted to express her feelings but she never did until it was too late. What could have happened in between, if Nam or let’s just be gender-sensitive, Mario, made the first move? They could have been happy together. Waiting out for someone to say how they feel leads to a lot of regrets and unrealized expectations. So women out there should no longer be confined to the dictates of an old, no longer existing Spanish culture of being too conservative when it comes to love. Such a thought is cultural and can be changed. (Note: In Japan, it is the women who first expresses their feelings. They give boys they like chocolates on Valentines Day) In fact, I think it is changing. Mace’s line from “That Thing Called Tadhana” proves that this change is happening.

Men, it’s not wrong if a woman expresses her feelings for you. It’s just a gesture of care and love. As long as you do not abuse her feelings. (Think of it this way, if you were the one courting and we abuse your feelings how would you feel?) Also, don’t think of her as cheap. It’s your misogynist and back-cultured mind that’s working and not your logic. (Reminder: such thoughts are cultural, note the Japanese example, it is not a universal and inherent law of nature). I personally believe men who think empowered  women such as these are cheap are narrow minded. Wake up people, this is the 21st century. (Thank you Mitch De Ocampo for the correction) It’s high time that we view the opposite sex as an equal, not a subordinate. What the other can do, the opposite is allowed and may do as well.

Women, it’s never wrong to be the one to make the first move and express your feelings as long as you know your limits. Also, know when to stop whenever the boy you like does not feel the same way. As long as you know you already did your best then it’s enough. Showing your love is already enough. It is the other party’s loss if he does not reciprocate it. I’m sure someone out there who is better in everything and more worthy for you deserve your kind of love more.

This is a call out to both sexes. We are equal. We are all empowered. We can do what we can for love. Don’t be narrow minded, let your principles and beliefs speak and take action. For me, I believe in women empowerment and if you don’t, why not try a little for a change. Don’t worry I won’t take it against you if you don’t. Just make sure you don’t judge those who actually do.

New comment: (not in original, 11/21/2015)

This does not mean that I believe in fast-paced relationships. Of course, both should get to know each other first before they jump into a relationship. Start out as friends. Saying/ showing how or what you feel is different from saying “YES” in an instant. Just voicing out your feelings is only the first step to the journey until the right time for your love comes. I’d just like to end this with a quote:

“The journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step.”

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