Jadine's Living Arrangement Is None Of Our Business

In anything that offends society's sensibilities, it's always the woman at fault.
by Yvette Tan
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News outlets pounced on Nadine Lustre’s non-answer to whether she did or didn’t just move in with her boyfriend and love team partner James Reid.

The internet took Nadine’s statements of "I mean, if that was true, so what? Hindi ba? It's not new anymore," "It's normal na eh. Come on, guys, it's 2017," and "I'm not gonna confirm, and I'm not gonna deny. But then, like, ano naman?" to mean "yes."

A lot of people seem offended by Nadine’s answer, many of them angry because she’s setting a bad example for the kids that look up to her.

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No one’s mad at James, btw.

Google the issue (which shouldn’t even be an issue—it shouldn’t even have been newsworthy), and all you will find are articles talking about Nadine’s reaction to being asked about the issue, plus numerous comments on Nadine’s perceived personality flaws. No media outlet seems to have bothered to ask James about this, and no one thinks he bears any responsibility in his and his girlfriend’s cohabitation (aka "living in"—if indeed that’s what they’re doing). The earliest thing I could find that pertained to him being asked about their relationship was Boy Abunda asking him about marriage.

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Talk about a double standard.

It’s old news: In anything that offends society’s sensibilities, it’s always the woman at fault. Young actors in a loving relationship who moved in together before marriage? Ooooh, what a horrible example the woman is to our impressionable young ones! The man gets away scot-free, because he’s one-upped the woman by getting her to sleep with him before marriage.

Unfortunately, many people still view unmarried women as delicate creatures that must be protected, both from their own desires, and by being taken advantage of by men. Such thinking is dangerous for everyone.

At its simplest (and it’s way more complex than this), it’s two sides of the same coin: It forces women to disassociate with an integral part of their nature and makes them feel guilty for feeling or acting on biological impulses while painting men as animals who aren’t equipped to reel these same urgings in.

Are men such beasts that women have to constantly protect themselves from them? Are men so evil that the only thing they want from a woman is sex, and the only way she can ensure that he doesn’t leave her is to withhold it until after marriage?

And why, if two consenting adults decide to move in together before getting hitched, is the woman always at fault? Last I checked, the 'co' in cohabitation meant that the couple made the decision to live together, you know, together.

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Marriage doesn’t guarantee a happily ever after.

Nadine isn’t alone, however. Many people have spoken up to defend her. They’re not defending James, because James doesn’t need defending. In fact, he isn’t even in the conversation. Folks who lived together before marriage (or who decided to just live together and never get married) supported their decision, saying that cohabitation helped them decide that their partner was the one for them. But these same people are quick to say that living together doesn’t guarantee a happily ever after—but then, neither does marriage.

People will tell you that marriage is the only way to secure a lasting relationship, but all you have to do is take a look around to know that this is not true. Marriages fall apart. Some married people lie. Some cheat. Some endanger their families. Some even kill. A vow in front of an altar doesn’t necessarily mean a life free from worry and uncertainty—it’s the mutual decision to love your spouse every day, to choose to be honest with them, to respect them, and to treat them with kindness no matter how tough things get that forms the foundation of a strong relationship, and sometimes, even that isn’t enough. If marriage were the be all and end all of a happy relationship, we wouldn’t have news stories about feuds between politician’s mistresses because they wouldn’t have mistresses to begin with.

Support?

Other comments 'supported' (I use this term very loosely) the couple’s moving in together, but in a really sick way. All the commenters seemed to be male (big surprise), and they all took the view that cohabitation was a good thing because sex, sex, and more sex. I’m not going to quote them here because I don’t want these people to benefit from their crude comments. They view Nadine as an object (for James, presumably) to use sexually.

The implication of their horrendous comments is that she isn’t to be respected because she’s hot and is having premarital sex and thus, is not deserving of respect.

These are the kinds of people you don’t want to move in with. Actually, these are the kind of people you don’t want to have a relationship with, period. These are the kinds of people who need to seek psychological help.

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It’s none of our business!

Every person—man, woman, lesbian, gay, bi, trans, queer, straight, asexual, pansexual, and everyone in between are all deserving of respect. To limit someone to one aspect of their personality is demeaning. Nadine is more than her romantic status. She’s an accomplished actress whose housing arrangements have nothing to do with her craft. We can begin to complain about her private life when it begins to have a noticeably adverse effect on her creative output and if it harms the people around her, such as if she intentionally pees on a fellow actor without his or the director’s consent during a taping for a TV show, for example. The nebulous 'being a bad example for our children' doesn’t count. Many politicians (on both sides) are bad examples for our children. If we’re going to throw stones at anyone, shouldn’t we start with the people who govern the country first?

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If anything, we should be celebrating Nadine’s bravery. Sure, she and James may not be living the Christian ideal, and sure, she didn’t give a straight answer, but she gave as truthful an answer any actor with a ‘sweet’ reputation to uphold can give. And isn’t honesty and taking responsibility for one’s decisions a thing to celebrate? Lord knows that both are in decline right now. If anything, that’s what their fans should be taking away from all this.

That said, it’s my belief that we shouldn’t let James get away with this, either. We should question his silence. He’s reaping the benefit of being a good-looking man in a patriarchal society, seemingly standing back while his girlfriend gets assaulted by public opinion on all sides. I hope I’m wrong about this and someone sends me an article of James telling us that it’s really none of our business. Not that Nadine needs saving; she doesn’t. She’s been holding her own quite well. But it would be nice to know that she’s being actively supported.

But really, what Nadine and James do within the confines of their relationship isn’t any of our business. That pieces like this have to be written speaks of a society that has its priorities all wrong. That we are more alarmed at the news of two people moving in together than say, the Supreme Court banning the importation of contraceptives despite the passing of the Reproductive Health Law or a politician who says that gay people are worse than animals before abandoning his political post to go play sports for money, or even just the decades-long problem of Filipinos starving because of faulty food sustainability systems shows that yes, the Philippines does have a morality problem—we just have to look in the right places before we can properly address it.

Follow Yvette on Twitter and Instagram.

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