by The Former Sapphist
This morning, I woke up to a message calling my attention to this article by John Mychal Feraren, who feels that Moira dela Torre’s song, Titibo-tibo spells trouble. I will discuss points that he left out since his stated objective to ‘thoroughly’ discuss the song was not carried out.
Text vs. Context
When I was studying Literature at UST, we were taught to remain faithful to the ‘text’, consider its ‘context’ before delving into any sub-text. In short, before we read between the lines, we must first, read the lines — something that the blogger who critiqued Titibo-tibo failed to do.
The song simply details how the female singer journeyed from being a tomboy to a full feminine girl upon falling in love with the opposite sex. Nowhere in the lyrics does it state that if any girl wishes to find love, they have to be straight. The song narrates how a tomboy had to device a way to be noticed by her love interest, who is presumably a straight man.
After all, one of the key elements to dating is flirting, and flirting is all about being noticed. How can a tomboy be noticed by a straight man when this tomboy who likes him looks like someone who might be better than him at picking up ladies at the bar? Are we to start educating the straight man to stop being so alienated from the existence of gender fluidity and consider dating a tomboy just to give it a try?
When identifying the meaning or meanings of a text, it is important to utilize various techniques in approaching that body of art. In this case, a song. Are we to approach it for its aesthetic value — rhythm, tune, instrumentation? Moral value — what does it contribute to the morals of its audience? Intellectual value — does it stimulate thought or are we simply projecting our own thoughts onto it while overlooking its text and meaning?
In cyberspace, it is quite easy to make bold claims as they were absolute truth, since we have the right to freedom of expression. I will harness that same freedom to address the keypoints raised by Feraren.
“Homosexuality, in all respects, is not something that requires a miracle to be transformed, as Titibo-tibo suggests.” I wonder if you are a practicing homosexual yourself. If you are and you believe that no miracles are required to be transformed, then you do not have the slightest clue what it’s like to be homosexual and feel the desire to change and have control over one’s same-sex attraction as opposed to being enslaved by it. Please stop making claims as though you speak on behalf of all homosexuals, because many homosexuals are willing to be transformed even if it takes a miracle, which brings me to the next point you raised.
“Acceptance is the key, not some form of fairy tale grandeur that holds patriarchy in towering pedestals.” I have said this in another blog post and I say it again. If the LGBTQxyz throw fists in the air in hot pursuit of acceptance, how come homosexuals leaving the lifestyle become the target of the same prejudice? If dela Torre felt the need to change her image upon the stirrings of love for the opposite sex, why can’t we accept that? If lesbians like myself would like to pursue a life of chastity for the moral convictions that have arrested me from within, why do I get ridiculed?
“Homosexuality is not something that desires to be changed even by the purest intentions of love.” What does ‘the purest intentions of love’ mean to you? On the contrary, love invokes change because without change, there is no growth. And if love does not compel the lover and the beloved to be changed, then there is no growth in that love, regardless of the couple’s sexual orientation.
Perfect love casts out fear and because of this love, the girl who was inspired by the man in the song had the courage to overcome her fears and was able to change. It’s so simple.
“Homosexuality is to be accepted, not altered just to conform to the standards of society.” Dela Torre never mentioned in her song that she altered her appearance to conform to society. She got a makeover to be noticed by the guy that she likes, because apparently, no one was educating the guy that it’s okay to court a butch. If the guy falls in love with her despite her masculine attributes, then the change in her outward appearance simply followed the change that was sparked within her. A lesbian felt connected to her feminine side, emulated it like a blossoming flower, and we are afraid that this could mean trouble?
“[…] the gravity of the implications of the mindset such songs could potentially bring is truly troubling, especially in a society with people already desensitized because discrimination is already an everyday event.” It is more troublesome that a lesbian decides to change, pursues who she is, dates the man she loves based on her true nature, and she gets called out in public space for living the life and love she chooses. Yet, we continue to demand acceptance from society for the life we choose for ourselves as homosexuals.
“The success of Titibo-tibo, in fact, only highlights the fact that Philippine society is already accustomed to heteronormativity.” I do not know your sources, but it is painfully outdated. The Philippines may be accustomed to heteronormativity just like the rest of the world, but the Philippines also has LGBTQ groups who aggressively push for the SOGIE bill. In case you didn’t know, we already have a transgender seated in Congress.
On Rape and the Culture of Fear
The only real danger that I see in the song is the fact that it had become a target for the inculturation of fear. However way I try to read the lyrics brings no implications to my mind that it is a rape-enabling song, as opposed to what Feraren gently implies in his critique of it. I do not see how the subject of rape is relevant to a butch getting a makeover in order to date a man, when she was never raped by him as far as the context of the song goes.
While it’s true that rape is used by sex offenders to have control over women regardless of sexual orientation, the politics of rape is too heavy a subject to be linked to a wholesome, good-natured song that is Titibo-tibo. Again, read the text and recognize the context before going into any sub-text.
Feraren has on one hand, attempted to interpret the song as anti-LGBTQ by lacing interpretations of his own, without being faithful to the text and the context in which the artist has painted her meaning on her canvass, which is the music that Dela Torre created.
On the other hand, Feraren implies that the transformation of the singer from butch to straight in order to find love with the opposite sex spells trouble proves that he — and many others like him — are living in fear of change. “We need to believe that love transcends the fluidity of gender.” If we do believe that love transcends the fluidity of gender, then Dela Torre has crossed her gender boundaries from butch to straight and that is gender fluidity as well, is it not? Why is it unacceptable then, if what you call gender fluidity crosses from homosexuality to ‘heteronormativity’?
Prejudice is a two-way street. Oftentimes, those who want tolerance become so indignant to their cause that they impose the same intolerance that they fight against.
In a time and place where songs are laden with sex, drugs, violence and self-glorification, Titibo-tibo is a breath of fresh air. It is a beautiful song for the rhythm, tune, instrumentation and the simplicity of its narrative. It is also thought-provoking, without having to be moralistic. And this is why it remains on top of the charts.
Lastly, Mr Feraren, if you believe in diversity, then you must know how to live and let live.
Feraren’s blog can be found at claire delfin media, “The Trouble with Moira Dela Torre’s Titibo-tibo”