Writing on Air

Writing on Air by Jim Paredes

Surviving women

Posted on March 15, 2014 by jimparedes

HUMMING IN MY UNIVERSE By Jim Paredes (The Philippine Star) | Updated March 16, 2014 – 12:00am

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Today, the third Sunday of Women’s Month, I will dare to write about women.

As a male member of humanity, I’ve always known they were different. Quite early, I caught on about how differently they thought and behaved and reacted to situations. They seemed softer, more fragile, more sensitive than men. At least that was how I was led to think — until I grew up and learned a bit more.

As I got older, I began to relate to women in a gamut of ways. They were girls, women, classmates, the opposite sex, chicks, the female gender, the feminine. They were also mothers, sisters, aunts, lolas, maids, lovers, confidantes, best friends, dates. Lastly, they were infinitely complex creatures who were the meaning of life, the love object, the reason to live, the source of great pain, pleasure and aliveness.

But they are also known in some quarters by derogatory descriptions, such as “broad,” “bebot,” “pokpok,” “cheapipay,” “bimbo,” “kabit,” “kulasisi,” “bitch” — and many other insulting terms.

I must admit that while 99 percent of the time I relate to women mostly as belonging to the first batch, I have met a few who impress me as possessing qualities belonging to the second grouping.

But wait: before half of humanity starts throwing invectives and possible sharp objects at me, please read on.
Lifestyle Feature ( Article MRec ), pagematch: 1, sectionmatch:

I do not delight in insulting or demeaning women. I write as a simple man in awe of the opposite sex that seems to possess so much power that its members can be anything they wish to be: from saints to sinners, goddesses to bitches, virgins to whores, nurturing and protective mothers to cold amazon warriors, damsels in distress to Joan of Arc types, holy nuns to GROs, etc. There isn’t a shade or personality trait women cannot be capable of.

They are, at best, pretty hard to understand. I have seen very happy men in great relationships who have experienced their women both as significant others and, at times, as very significant bothers. “Can’t live with them. Can’t live without them,” as the saying goes.

This must also be true for women relating to men. While love, tenderness, affection, and everything nice and fuzzy are much-appreciated gifts from women, in the eyes of men, they can also be devastatingly rough, cruel, wounding, and manipulative.

There are two songs in my head that are playing as I write this. One is I’m Every Woman as sung by Chaka Khan:

I’m every woman
It’s all in me
I can read your thoughts right now
Every one from A to Z
I can cast a spell
Of secrets you can tell
Mix a special brew
Put fire inside of you
Anytime you feel danger or fear
Then instantly I will appear…

I can sense your needs/ Like rain unto the seeds
I can make a rhyme
Of confusion in your mind
And when it comes back to some good old-fashioned love
I’ve got it, I’ve got it, I’ve got it, got it, baby.

The other is Billy Joel’s She’s Always a Woman to Me:

She can kill with a smile, she can wound with her eyes
She can ruin your faith with her casual lies?
And she only reveals what she wants you to see
She hides like a child, but she’s always a woman to me.

She can lead you to love, she can take you or leave you
She can ask for the truth, but she’ll never believe you
And she’ll take what you give her as long it’s free
Yeah, she steals like a thief, but she’s always a woman to me.

Ohhh, she takes care of herself
She can wait if she wants, she’s ahead of her time
Ohhh, and she never gives out
And she never gives in, she just changes her mind.

And she’ll promise you more than the garden of Eden
Then she’ll carelessly cut you and laugh while you’re bleeding
But she’ll bring out the best and the worst you can be
Blame it all on yourself ‘cause she’s always a woman to me.

Sometimes I am baffled when they say it is a man’s world. The truth is, women can so easily wrap men around their pinkies. In fact, even when they show what seems to be weakness by crying, they are actually showing their strength, and more often than not, they get their way.

My mother is the strongest woman I have ever encountered. I can say that Mom is the not just the best mother anyone could have had but she was also a great Dad. She played both roles since my dad died when I was only five. She was beautiful, sweet and nurturing, yet she could zap you with tough love without hesitation. She never treated her sons like sissies. She called us out when we were wrong. She taught us to own up to everything we did. We siblings fondly refer to her as our mother who wore G.I. boots.

But she was also soft. She was very kind. She shared what she had. And that softness appeared to me as great strength. She seemed always to be uncomplaining, ready to embrace hardship if sacrifice was necessary to help the many people who came to her in need.

My sisters are strong women too. They are all passionate and intense in varying degrees. They are great influences on how I view and treat women. Since they are all older than I am, I saw them go through their different boyfriends until they got married. By watching them, I saw the type of men they disapproved of and those they admired, which was instructive. Their judgment has guided and stayed with me throughout my life.

One of the most important and difficult things a man must do constantly is to try and understand women. To start with, all men I know take a long time to get past the sexual attraction we feel for women, much less becoming comfortable with and calm about it. It’s a life-long task: libido must be tamed, trained and used within a consensual context that, at the very least, should not be harmful to anyone. At best, the expression of one’s libido must be emotionally, physically and psychologically beneficial and pleasurable to all involved.

Perhaps God purposely designed it this way, that a man must experience women, study and learn from them, suffer and be enraptured and enamored of them, be rejected and affirmed by them, and be tamed to be able to live with them. In short, men must become the best men they can be.

There is a Hindu saying that goes, “By no less than a God should a God be honored.” A man must work on being a man to deserve a good woman.

That women are complex creatures is best exemplified by Coco Chanel explaining her relationship with men and the world: “It’s probably not just by chance that I’m alone. It would be very hard for a man to live with me, unless he’s terribly strong. And if he’s stronger than I, I’m the one who can’t live with him… I’m neither smart nor stupid, but I don’t think I’m a run-of-the-mill person. I’ve been in business without being a business woman, I’ve loved without being a woman made only for love. The two men I’ve loved, I think, will remember me, on earth or in heaven, because men always remember a woman who caused them concern and uneasiness. I’ve done my best, in regard to people and to life, without precepts, but with a taste for justice.”

Perhaps the best way to survive a woman is by simply standing before her in awe.

0 to “Surviving women”

  1. Gej says:

    Nice piece. In as much as the songs about women you incuded here were very good, I like your Apo song on women, and their hold on men, the best. And I still remember APO’s intro to the song during concerts: “Ang awit na ito ay para kay Mrs. Javier, Mrs. Paredes, at Mrs. Garovillo. Ang aming mga …. nanay ! (Ha ha, the best! )

    Wala Nang Hahanapin Pa

    Mayroon siyang estilong kanya lamang
    Ang kanyang pagkababae ang dinadahilan
    Pagsubok sa pag-ibig walang katapusan
    ‘Di naman daw nagdududa, naniniguro lang.

    Ewan ko ba ngunit kahit ganyan siya,
    Minamahal ko siya, wala nang hahanapin pa.
    Kahit ano’ng sabihin ng iba, minamahal ko siya,
    Wala nang hahanapin pa.

    ‘Di raw nagseselos ngunit nagbibilang
    ng oras ‘pag ako’y ginagabi
    At biglang maamo ‘pag may kailangan
    ‘Pag nakuha na ikaw ay itatabi.

    Ewan ko ba ngunit kahit ganyan siya,
    Minamahal ko siya, wala nang hahanapin pa.
    Kahit ano’ng sabihin ng iba, minamahal ko siya,
    Wala nang hahanapin pa.

    ‘Di magpapatalo ‘pag mayroong alitan.
    ‘Di aamin ng mali, magbabagong isip lang.

    Ewan ko ba ngunit kahit ganyan siya,
    Sinasamba ko siya,
    Minamahal ko pa,
    Walang kaduda-duda,
    Wala nang hahanapin pa.

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