Sunday, January 11, 2009

Pinays & "Dogging"

"Your friend always dogs me. I think she doesn't like me," middle and high school friends would assume about my then-best friend, Mary Joyce.* She used to get in trouble for her mug by teachers and girls on basketball courts alike.

"She doesn't dog people. She just looks like that," I would say to dissuade their reactive anger or hurt while protecting Mary Joyce at the same time.

This is the same logic and defense that's still employed by young Pinays that I've met in high school conference workshops and dialogue circles. "If you think I'm dogging you, just know that I'm not. My face just looks like that," a girl once said succinctly. I remember saying similar things for others to heed as warning. I didn't want them to get their feelings hurt over what I made to be nothing. I firmly believed that my homegirl just had a mean mug by nature. That is, until she looked at me with it.

We must have gotten in some kind of petty argument... like the kinds that couples go through (which means it was probably over nothing. See "Mad" by Ne-Yo). Perhaps we were arguing about boys, homework or maybe it was around the times that she left me at the mall by myself. Or, maybe it was when I left her at the mall by herself. Whatever it was, there was definitely some easily accessible, underlying and hovering tension that we could muster from our jagged friendship. All the times that we'd probably tucked away and placed under our hearts. The arguments were constant back-and-forths, jabs at each other's self-proclaimed Pinay pride (as ascribed on and contradictory to our AOL profiles and photo studio-ed out binder covers): I threw out the time she ditched me and my hair appointment with her for my first Prom, she threw it back at me saying that she deserved to have her own fun that night; I'll never forget the way she hung up on my first heartbreak for her own chance at first love, and likewise, she'll never let me live down the way I left her hanging as I ditched cotillion (or some dance) practice so that I could grab an after-school snack with a boy. She wasn't mad that I ditched, she was mad because she found out when we ended up at the same eatery down the block. I may never forgive myself for feeling ashamed to call her my friend after my auntie announced and denigrated witnessing her dually visible lower back and pelvic tattoo from a distance. Mary Joyce confided that she felt similarly when her mother told her to follow my footsteps to a university. We threw punches and took hits before Pacquiao ever made it big. Whatever the argument was - and there were many - I remember her subsequent "dogging" me when we didn't reach a resolution.

Dogging, like mean mugging or straight up hating is all the same. Usually, it's mistaken. Mary Joyce and I clashed the most in silence. That's when we didn't speak up, or when we made our assumptions and were left to think the worst and best of each other. Sometimes, we didn't allow space for a conversation because of this funk we'd created. We even shot stares at other females and got them in return. We've shared good times and we've grown from the pain that we shared and did unto each other. But there is always something deeper to discover. There is always a lesson to be learned. Our friendship wasn't necessarily deficient, we may have just had a lot of "downs" and then "ups." I've grown into Pinayism and will profess it so that my sisters could find validation in their trying times. It will be difficult to build esteem and beauty without remembering the glances and heated exchanges down hallways wedged in between smiles at home and school.

The movie Mean Girls and its girl world are certainly not relegated to suburban white females, although it does capture the essence of dogging and ensuing self-destruction which is evident in Pinays and the act of dogging. I've found that speaking up is only half the battle against such tension. We have a lot of healing to do. The act of "dogging" is widely recognized, performed yet seldom discussed as a community issue.

What do you think we can do about this? Do you/did you have similar/different experiences? Why do you think this happens?

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