By Marivir R. Montebon
Women must free themselves from the bondage of patriarchy in all fronts: gender, economy, culture, politics, and race. – Simone de Beauvoir
Pretty soon, herstory and herstoric moments will become a household word. My optimism is grounded on the fact that the feminist assertion is taking center stage these days. It is the age of Aquarius, the age of reflection and action, and therefore, positive changes. It is the age of the woman, and of Mother Earth, who is obviously ailing and angry at the way we human beings are conducting our affairs.
I, and the growing feminist movement, will not be trivialized and relegated as a peripheral issue, just like women are taken a matter of factly as second class citizens. If the world has to get better, women, men, gays and lesbians must begin to acknowledge everyone’s relevance and role.
In the quarters of the America, there is a growing section of feminism that is blossoming to offer a different world view…transnational feminism, or that feminism which crosses borders and boundaries determined by migration, race, class, culture, territory and religion.
The Association of Filipinas, Feminists Fighting Imperialism, Re-Feudalization, and Marginalization (AF3IRM) is a three-year-old organization of feminists which has boldly organized women and redefine women and their roles in societies and the world.
Enriched by its 21 years of organizing experience, AF3IRM has mapped out the world into only five continents (Asia, America, Africa, Australia, and Europe) instead of the seven as we were taught. It has also reexamined the prevailing feminist school of thought of gender equality.
At whose context are we looking at equality? If it is equality with patriarchy and competition with male dominance, it is problematic. “We are not in competition with men in the context of patriarchy. Otherwise, we will not be solving the problems on injustice and not responding to fairness,” the feminists say.
AF3IRM positively asserts the position of women in liberation movements in its poster: “A woman’s place is at the head of the struggle for the liberation of humanity.”
Feisty and gracious AF3IRM chairperson Jolene Levid emphasizes during their recently concluded Centershift conference in Manhattan: “We are not just relevant, we are definitive. We have the right to develop our theory.”
AF3IRM is cooking up a new mindset, a shift to the center of things for women. It echoes the works of celebrated writer and feminist Simone de Beauvoir who asserts that women must free themselves from the bondage of patriarchy in all fronts: gender, economy, culture, politics, and race.
Beauvoir was affront in her assertion that the Marxism did not free women from exploitation and control, citing the experiences in the communist movements in Europe.
Fact is, the political movements all over the world remained male-dominated and piggy-backed on women activists who were doing much work but in silence and without responding to the gutteral issues of respect and fairness within the political organizations.
AF3IRM founder Ninotchka Rosca, international writer and novelist and a key political activist at the time of Pres. Marcos in the Philippines, is in the forefront in the center shift mindset, having personally experienced political upheavals in the Philippines and abroad.
Quite candidly, in fact, she maintains that the core of the movement for global change is gender fairness. Everything is of equal importance, she says, economy, race, religion, culture, and gender and the struggle for such must be simultaneous.
“Within the mass movements worldwide, it is sad that the progressive men continue to reign dominion, hence, we are not talking of sincere change here,” she said.
AF3IRM is relentless in writing its own experiences and drawing lessons from these, their woman’s development theory remains a work in progress. It is quite a dynamic group, ran by young and fully inspired women who bind themselves with reverence to the spirit of the goddesses and babaylans (spiritual healers of the community before the Spanish conquest) as inspiration.
With faith, fastidiousness, and finesse, these women are moving towards the center for social change at a remarkable pace. “We have a herstory to write and tell,” said Olivia Trinlas, AF3IRM’s gentle and indomitable chairperson for New York.