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Stand up for our rights
In The Press Posted on September 12th, 2009.
I was reading last week’s STAR that showed a picture of the battered Che Tiongson, the former common-law wife of Chavit Singson. What a pretty lady, I thought, and read on. She met Singson when she was 18 and he overwhelmed her with his kindness and gallantry. She lived with him and bore him five children. But he was fooling around with younger women, most likely 18 and below (my opinion based on her age when she met him), and finally she said she broke up with him last November. Then one Saturday night Singson walked in on her while she was having dinner with her boyfriend. She was afraid he would shoot her. Instead he beat her up and left her badly bruised.
How old was she now? I wondered. Eighteen years old when they met plus 17 years she lived with him. She was 35. The poor woman did not even know she was having a mid-life crisis. I have this observation. It has to do with aging and the crises that accompany it. Up to the time women are 30, life seems fine. But when they face 30, women shudder for the first time. They feel they are getting old. I felt that when I was turning 30 and it was followed by a major crisis.
Age sneaks up on us, quietly, slowly. At 30, women’s sexuality becomes a real problem. Maybe because in our 30s we should be having children if we haven’t had enough already, our hormones work overtime to make us mate to ensure that we have children. This is the time when we may fall hopelessly and uncontrollably in love, whether we are married or not. If we are not married, this is around the time when we will suddenly meet someone and rush into a marriage we will regret later on.
I think Ruth Knafo Setton describes it best in her essay “Women Writing Desire”:
To me, desire hinges on the moment of recognition. The climax in a tale of desire — even more than the sexual fulfillment — is the moment when two lovers see each other and accept what they see. The moment is a shock of awareness, equal to the shock of the Prince recognizing Cinderella in her rags or Beauty recognizing the noble lover in her Beast. The miraculous moment when the lover sees you through a magic mirror: flawed and human, yet infinitely desirable. For that recognition, you will abandon your marriage, start a war, act like a fool, take risks you’d never taken the day before. You’re in the grip of a fever. You simultaneously yearn for and dread the cure. Desire is the piece of the puzzle of your life that never fits with all the other pieces. Jagged and sharp edged, it jams itself in, regardless of the other nice, neat pieces awaiting their turn. Desire may come in different colors, religions, genders, nationalities, appearances than you’d planned. Like the holy sparks of the Kabbalah desire rarely comes gift wrapped or announced. Shards glitter in the dirt; they prick your fingers when you pick them up. They resist being captured. The harder you hold, the harder they squirm. And ahh, it hurts so good.
I wish I had written that but, no, someone else did. And guess what? Women’s sexuality rises in our 30s. It’s perfectly normal, happens to all women but we don’t know about it. I found out about it in my 50s when I discovered Carl Jung and psychology.
The other thing I learned, this from my mother, is: sexuality never dies. She is 88 with level 7, the last stage, of Alzheimer’s Disease, but she shows me that her sexuality is still alive. We are women. We are sexual beings but we are not comfortable with it and we don’t know how to deal well with it.
Singson was 51 when he met her. He already suffered from some sort of sexual anxiety then. That’s why he kept fooling around with more and more women. He is a chauvinist, yes, but also an unsorted man, one who does not look inside himself, does not question his own behavior. He is typically male. Males look outside themselves. Females look inside themselves. When a woman tells a man, “I love you,” she means it differently from when a man tells a woman, “I love you.” A man may not say it but he figures if he lives with you, goes home to you, has five children with you and gives you money, then surely you must know he loves you. The other women are just dust even if once in a while he says “I love you” to them.
But women are different. To women sexuality and love mean desire and desire is serious business, is hard to release, to let go off, it is easier to be swept up in it, to lose your breath, to have all thoughts erased. All right, maybe you mess up your life for a while but things will return to normal. Inevitably they do only you experienced being battered, almost shot, all sorts of demonic things that discarded men like to do.
But Che Tiongson is fortunate. These days we hear from Kat Legarda, who speaks up in her defense. Lilia de Lima, too, speaks up in her defense, and Liza Maza, too, according to the news piece. Finally, this columnist, too, who thinks Che Tiongson was right to leave Singson or ask him to leave. She is right to ask for continued support for her children. She is right to have her boyfriend for dinner and even after dinner. Her teenage child’s opinion is not important here, should be heard but should not be considered that important. Singson is wrong to have beaten her up and I hope he learns his lesson this early. I hope he goes to jail. If he does then maybe we don’t need a divorce law.
Ladies, women are people, too. We are identical to men though in different ways. By the way, men have a mid-life crisis, too. They have it in their 40s. We have ours in our 30s. Then we go through all sorts of journeys, some of them discombobulating, but still we have our rights and we must always stand up and claim them.