By Marivir R. Montebon
New York – My eldest niece, Lila Sophia, rushed to greet me when I arrived in their home in Menifee for a week-long vacation. At 13, she’s already taller than me, and immediately said, I read your book, tita, Biting the Big Apple.
Did you like it?, I asked, quite happily surprised. She said yes, and was amused at the fact that I did not know how to make pancakes. Argh, how embarrassing, I thought. We laughed.
Then the young lady asked, what is feminism tita, and are you a feminist? Uh, serious questions. How do I make feminism tangible, realistic for a teenager?
I asked back, what do you think is it?
She replied, it means to be willing to help people when they need help? I said yes, that’s being responsible. And added – I think being feminist is to know that you deserve love and respect, and you do not allow anyone to treat you lesser than that. You can punch them or walk away.
Oh, she said, with eyes behind those thick eyeglasses lighting up. We laughed again. And we proceeded to eat my cousin Muffette’s home-made egg muffin (we call it torta, a celebrated recipe handed down from my late grandma Lola Nara to my aunt, Tita Linda) for snacks.
I love conversations like these. It gives my heart hope that the younger generation is soul-searching and raising existential questions.
These days, I’d learned to say a quiet prayer for strength and unity too, for millennials. I think that their challenges are definitely much more difficult economically, environmentally, socially, and physically than the generations ahead of them.
Life’s lessons will continue to be brutal, I bet. With that, a willful and faithful attitude is important, and a strong community of friends and family could help too.
But yes, Lila, the feminist mindset of loving and respecting the self and others, should come in handy.