The Filipina Double Standard

Previously I wrote an article titled “Understanding your Filipina” and in this article I tried to give a small generalized insight into how the Filipina thinks as well as a short critique of Philippine culture that shapes her world and personality. This article is almost like an addendum to the first article in that it deals with a unique aspect of the Filipina bar girls behavior, and that aspect is the infamous double standard or as I like to call it the butterfly effect.

In the so called Western world there is a famous sexual double standard which states that if the male has numerous sexual partners he is a stud, he is seen as virile and masculine however if a woman has numerous sexual partners she is seen as a slut or a lose woman and in some cases incorrectly labeled a whore. In short one type of behavior is acceptable and even encouraged for the male but is unacceptable for the female. For the same act one sex is praised and revered while the other is reviled, and judged. This is the classic sexual double standard.

Well guess what, in the Philippines a country where masculinity is alive and well and the women, especially the bar girls, are supposedly exploited, it is the women who have the double standard. In the bar scene where foreign men pay for the sexual services of women it is ironically the women (bar girls) who have the double standard, not the men. This double standard is where the bar girl considers it acceptable for her to have numerous sexual partners but unacceptable for the male to do the same thing. What is good for the goose is certainly not good for the gander. This double standard is normally expressed by the girl saying “you big butterfly” hence my term the butterfly syndrome.

The Filipina bar girl is in many ways a unique species with a way of thinking that for us foreigners is totally alien or as one AE member expressed it, “totally out of wack” and perhaps the best example of this is the butterfly syndrome. If you have more than one sexual partner then the girls will call you a butterfly. This term is an analogy that likens the practice of having numerous sexual partners to the behavior of a butterfly when it flitters from flower to flower sipping at the pollen.

The term ‘butterfly’ does imply a certain amount of moralistic judgment and it does represent a classic double standard but at the same time there is an element of humor in the term and it is meant more as a flippant observation than a severe moralistic judgment. If the bar girls call you a babaero ( a playboy) or a balakero (literally translated “a man who uses women”) then you know she is more serious than if she simply calls you a butterfly.

The butterfly analogy is delightfully feminine and typical Filipina, yet at the same time for us foreigners, blatantly hypocritical. Why is it that in the bar girls mind it is ok for her to have sex with numerous different partners but it’s not ok for the guys to do the same? The answer is very simple MONEY and SURVIVAL. In most cases the Filipina grows up with a conflict between moral beliefs and day to day reality. For example she is taught prostitution is bad but in reality prostitution is one of the few ways a girl can earn the money she and her family needs to survive. In her mind the Filipina bar girl justifies having sex with multiple partners by thinking, ‘this is the only way I can earn the necessary amount of money myself and my family need to survive’. This is why you will often hear them saying “it’s just my fucking job”. When they say this they are acknowledging the fact that they are having sex for money which is a morally bad thing but at the same time an economic reality if they are to survive. Because of the lack of decent paying employment opportunities in the Philippines, financial remuneration becomes a valid justification for having sex with multiple partners.

Whilst the money itself is a justification for having numerous sexual encounters perhaps a more important justification is how the money is used. 99.9% of bar girls have pressure from their family to supply money and their primary reason for working in the bar is to support their family. To support the family is seen as perfectly natural in Filipino culture and it serves as a sort of moral justification for having sex for money.

When it comes to having sex for money the Filipina is in what can only be called, a moral dilemma. As in all countries on the surface level prostitution is frowned upon and seen as morally wrong, however, if the earnings from prostitution are spent helping people who cannot help themselves (in most cases this means the girls family) then having sex for money is morally condoned. For the Filipina bar girl having sex for money is on the one hand morally wrong but on the other hand morally acceptable.

In most cultures the act of having sex for money is vilified but in the subculture of Filipina bar girls the money and how it is used becomes a justification rather than a vilification. In the bar girls mindset it’s ok to be a prostitute if the money you earn is spent on your family or on your own survival. It is important to remember that in the majority of cases the act of prostitution becomes a means of survival for both the girl and her family. Personally I find this situation the ultimate in bitter irony. The Philippines is a country dominated by Catholicism and yet it is these very same Catholics who have found a way to morally justify prostitution.

In the bar girls world it is acceptable for her to have sex with numerous individuals because it is her ”job” and it is one of the few ways she can make the necessary money for her and her family to survive. On the other hand in the bar girls mind the male customer has no such justification. For a Filipina bar girl the foreigner male has sex with multiple partners for no other reason than to satisfy the male ego and hormonal urges. In her mind these are not valid reasons to have many sexual partners and as such she will apply moralistic judgments whilst neglecting to apply those same judgments to herself.

Another thing to consider is the peer group pressure the Filipina bar girl is under. For example many subconsciously feel they must have the latest cell phone or the new fashion shoes or clothing. The world of the Filipina bar girl is a competitive one, albeit on a subconscious level, and to be able to compete successfully a bar girl must have money and the best way she knows to make money is to have sex with men.

Once working within the ‘bar system’ the girl has various pressures exerted on her and one major pressure is the mamasan pushing her to go out. Basically the mamasan’s receive a percentage of the bar fine money as their commission so it is in their best interests to push the girls to go bar-fine. Many times I have asked some of the more high profile bar girls why they go bar fine so frequently and invariably one of the reasons they will cite is pressure from the mamasan. As such this pressure acts as a sort of justification for them to go out with numerous different people however there is no such pressure on the customer and consequently no justification for you having numerous sexual partners.

Earlier in this article I noted the classic sexual double standard between men and women of the so called more affluent western countries. In this scenario if the man “fucks around” he is a stud but if the woman does it she is a “slut”. I have already discussed the implications of this double standard and the important thing to note here is that the existence of double standards in nearly all societies throughout the world. The widespread existence of double standards in totally different societies would suggest that they are a natural occurrence of human existence and as such will inevitably be found in the world of Philippine bar girls.

Often the Filipina bar girl will try to discourage the foreign male from having sex with multiple partners simply because of her ego and a natural urge to control the male. There is also a large element of competitiveness involved. Amongst the bar girls there is a strong sense of competitiveness and all of them know that to snare a man and his support they will have to compete with other bar girls and the best way of competing is to stop the male from having sex with other women. By calling a man a butterfly and exposing the judgmental implications behind this term, the bar girl is in fact exhibiting competitiveness. In a nice lighthearted way she is trying to discourage the male from having sex with other bar girls and in so doing keep him too herself.

When referring to bar girls many people have stated ,“it’s all about the money” and indeed, once incorporated into the bar world, a girl learns very quickly that the objective is to find a man who will provide them with the necessary economic and perhaps less importantly emotional support. To achieve this end the girls will adopt several methods not the least of which is to make the man fall in love with her. There is a common belief amongst Filipinas in general and especially amongst the bar girls that if you make the man fall in love you will gain a lot more from the relationship, including financial benefits. To be successful in this endeavor they must try to stop the man from having other sexual partners. The Filipina bar girl instinctively knows that if the man ‘fucks around” with other girls then her chances of securing financial and emotional support are drastically reduced. This is one reason why in the Philippine bar scene you can find the Girl Friend Experience (GFE) which is not available in similar scenes in other countries. Contrary to this is the logic they apply to themselves which states, it is all a numbers game and the more men they meet and make love with, the better their chances of finding the man who is right for them.

One unique aspect of the Filipina bar girl is her ability to develop genuine feelings for a sexual partner and believe it or not in some cases they will use these feelings as a justification for them fucking around. The bar girl logic goes something like this: when she is in love with a man she feels ashamed to ask money from him so as a result she will take on other sexual partners just to get the money she needs to survive and avoid ‘using’ the man she loves. For foreigners this logic seems bizarre and twisted but for the Filipina bar girl it makes perfect sense and she does not see any contradiction between professing love for one man and having sex with a number of other men.

The bar girls learn very quickly to compartmentalize their sexual activities based on varying criteria. For the Filipina bar girl there is a clear line between having sex for the reason of love and having sex for financial remuneration. The two are very different concepts and yet in the bar girls mind by no means mutually exclusive. Unfortunately the girls seem unable to apply the same logic to their male customers. They see the foreigners as paying for sexual services rather than getting paid and this in itself is not a strong enough reason to justify having numerous sexual partners. Once again we have the classic double standard where it is acceptable for the girl to be sexually promiscuous but not for the male.

Most girls after a period of time working the bar have, "been there done that", as the old saying goes and as such to some extent they will always keep their options open just in case the man they thought was their passport to a better life turns out to be a failure. The girls in their mind see it as perfectly normal that they would wish to keep their options open but they will not expect the man to do the same thing. On the contrary most bar girls will try their very best to get the foreigner to fall in love with them as this way the relationship will last for a longer time and the girl will get more out of it.

There are probably many more identifiable reasons why the double standard exists and yet ironically knowing the reasons behind the double standard does not help you combat it. For example many guys have said, ”when a girl tells me it’s her job I simply reply, well it’s my job as well” but invariably this will not make sense to the Filippina. For her it is basic, she receives payment for offering sexual services whilst the men do the paying. For her it is a job and in her mind the men are customers who pay her to do her job.

Perhaps the best way I have found for combating the double standard is to sit them down and explain to them that bar fining different girls you are actually supporting the system and helping them keep their job. Secondly I am helping the girls financially which is why they are working the bar in the first place. This logic works well but only up to a point because at the end of the day your average bar girl couldn’t care less about the system or the welfare of other bar girls, all she cares about is what’s in it for her.

Last but not least I think it is important to ask how does this double standard effect the customers enjoyment. The answer is in most cases it hardly has any effect at all. Granted there is a certain amount of moralistic, judgmental overtones implicit in sayings such as “you big butterfly” but on the whole sayings such as this are light hearted with a certain amount of humor and will not significantly impede your mongering activities.

This article represents my thoughts and experiences after having lived in the Philippines and worked in the bars there for the last 18 years. It is designed primarily to help foreigners understand the Filipina bar girl and in so doing hopefully foster more harmonious and successful interaction between the two. I do not claim to be 100% correct or by any means an authority on subjects such as this and please note these are just my opinions garnered from many years of experience. I welcome any discussion or sharing of opinions that this article may elicit. At the end of the day we all have an interest in Filipina bar girls and it is my hope that this article will help members gain a better understanding of these girls, their world and how they think.

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