Editor’s Notes: Introspecting Feminism
By Marivir R. Montebon
It is time to wake up and treat the issues on gender, class, race, religion, and culture in a holistic, simultaneous approach, with nothing being subordinated to another. Women who profess themselves as change movers must realize this. We are all works in progress. But first, we must deal with our own ironies honestly.
Today, International Women’s Day 2014, I woke up at 10:32 in the morning and rushed to the bathroom, and headed back to my bedroom, literally put my laptop on top of my lap to write. It feels good to know that thousands of women all over the world are out to celebrate their persons today. Certainly, my great grandmother, grandmother, and mother didn’t celebrate with all the other women the need to struggle for their rights as human beings. They just lived lives for others, for their children, and husbands, and work, and community, family, and Church…everyone else, and not for their happiness. Or they defined happiness as attached to or pending with someone else’s.
Such were the women of my lineage. Wired to be more sacrificing, subordinating. I live in more exciting times.
Since when did I become a feminist? What is feminism? Is it something to dread about or be turned off with? Is it unglamorous, ungracious, unwomanly, unnecessary, or only for the aggressive?
As the famous song of Abba goes…”Mother says I was a dancer before I could walk. She said I started to sing long before I could talk…”, I would like to say that I have become the feminist that I am when I speak my mind independently and fearlessly, of what I think or feel about things.
As a child, I have shown signs of being outspoken and a character of autonomy. I have grown a lot better through the years, more than being called supil, maldita, stubborn, I became conscious of my human rights and that of the others. I became an activist. I thought that was the best I could ever become. But no, it wasn’t. There was more to being a person of compassion and seeing things holistically and honestly, than just being political or politicking.
More years added on, I made conscious effort to surface the voice of the woman in my stories, the angles I take, and the lens I use to be more sensitive to the conditions of the woman and how she can improve herself and her situation. My profession and mission as a writer has never been fulfilling and joyful.
Feminism is technically defined as the doctrine advocating social, political, and all other rights of women as equal to those of men. Uneasy words such as equality, fairness, independence, escape from control, deceit, and exploitation, these are all that women have to put up with to assert for her wholeness and integrity. Big tasks, but things are improving. Thousands and thousands of women have realized that they must begin to speak for themselves and stop wallowing in their own suffering, and being defined by others.
As I write, I am also admonishing myself. I had been a battered wife myself. My own irony is being a feisty writer living in an abusive marriage. Women are wired to sacrifice and be tolerant, that’s what happened to me too. I tolerated an abusive relationship until I could not take it anymore. Until one thing was left, that tiny self respect I had to defend, it was time to pack my things up and leave.
The greatest BS in that relationship was being married to an abusive man who professed to live life pushing for human rights of others with physically and emotionally abusing his wife. My mistake was being tolerant and the thought that he would change. The years of economic exploitation and emotional abuse continued, with my role as bread winner and battered wife. He continued to feel entitled, even to the day he was felled by the assassin’s bullets for his political conviction.
When he died, what rushed to my mind is the conflicting emotions of the lingering hurt and anger vis-a-vis forgiveness. Seven year since then, I am still in the process of that healing.
On a deeper note, the absence of the recognition of the efforts and contributions of women within the political movement for social change means the ironic continued exploitation of these women activists and leaders. Sadly, many women activists turn the other way when confronted by these questions.
How deceptive and backward is it to be made to believe, and to believe, that a woman’s liberation is dependent on the liberation of the exploited (socio-economic) classes. One has to see that even within her own class structure, the woman is more exploited.
It is time to wake up and treat the issues on gender, class, race, religion, and culture in a holistic, simultaneous approach, with nothing being subordinated to another.
Women who profess themselves as change movers must realize this. We are all works in progress. But first, we must deal with our own ironies honestly.
Cheers to all women in the world!