Wednesday, December 6, 2006

talaga naman

meanwhile a woman whose bubble has yet to burst: GMA.

imagine! discussing and deciding on charter change at 2:00 in the morning, on a weekday. when no sane Filipino is awake, unless they're call center agents who are in fact living vicariously in another country.

and really, the panggagago is so obvious i've been meaning to scream.

the majority has decided to amend certain sections of the rules of the house, so that they can in the process railroad the constituent assembly towards charter change. the majority currently wants to read a resolution that they say has been signed by a majority, and which talks about the implementation of con ass.

the clincher? they are talking about implementation BEFORE the conass resolution itself is even discussed and approved.

earlier, they also railroaded the vote on what seems to be a harmless thing: changing the constitution will now only require the same process as any bill that congress wishes to pass from the budget for their pork barrels to just getting pills sold over the counter.

kumusta naman? charter change is equal to contraception in our drug stores?

GMA's boys in congress are obviously set on convening the constituent assembly ALREADY, as in right now, this very minute. ganda.

thank god for the partylist representatives, and yes, the opposition. while i know that the opposition is made up of very distinct -- and probably indestructible -- interests, their function within the halls of congress is undoubtedly clear. particularly in the face of a president like GMA who is, sabi nga ni Sir Bien, kapit-tuko.

meanwhile, GMA banks on the rest of us who just don't give a shit -- or are tired of giving a shit. or maybe who just don't know any better. or most probably, just busy trying to survive our lives seemingly independent of the nation.

yes, going back to the streets. where bubbles become irrelevant.

and now a cheap thrill: miriam defensor-santiago just got her bubble pricked.

thank you for dropping her from that list of candidates for chief justice, whoever/whatever you are who has the power to do so.

come on now, let's take GMA on.

Tuesday, December 5, 2006

The Big P and Sisterhood

Patriarchy, yes.

(Or perhaps even C-apitalism?)

Not a word I particularly like to use either, as it easily becomes this all-encompassing abstraction on which we can blame all our misery as women. As though we took no part in oppressing each other, or ourselves.

I was, and continue to be, wary of stereotypes, and lumping all of these women into one stereotype and criticizing them knowing that, really, I have no idea what’s going on inside their heads, in their lives. I guess this comes from my hearing people criticize the stereotype that I fall into, and all that time, my wanting to defend myself and say, “That’s not what it’s like at all.” I guess it is a reaction to the snobbishness and the smugness I see too much of around me.

I do realize a drawback to this wariness—and it is that it often paralyzes me, makes me unable to make any sort of criticism at all. And so I realize now that one has to begin somewhere, and I will have to agree that “making those stereotypes, and seeing ourselves within and beyond them,” is a pretty powerful place to start.

I wonder, though, what she has to say, Ms. Cosmo chick. And amidst all this criticism, I wonder how it is possible to find affinity with her, how sisterhood is possible.

popping our own bubbles

What ultimately scares me about theorizing on the existence of that Bubble (with a capital letter B), within which we all inevitably fall as women, is that it brings us back to a capital letter P-atriarchy.

That bigger Bubble makes victims of all of us, and puts the blame of our divisiveness on an all-encompassing power that has made us wary and critical of each other. To have that bigger Bubble to fall back on, is to be dependent on Patriarchy and its view of us as a collective of women.

I would like to think that we are here talking like this precisely because we have burst that bigger Bubble.

Because we now have the capacity to speak to each other and be critical of what we do as women, regardless of what the men think. Because we can now have as premise the assertion that there is no sisterhood among us all Pinays, that we are not required to find affinity with each other just because of our biological make-up. When in the onset, feminism was about coming together with ALL women across race, class and religion, we meanwhile grew up in a Pinoy society that points to anything but unity. And it has become every Pinay for herself in the face of each other; not all of us against that one Patriarchy, or that one big Bubble.

I would like to think that as we delved into the difference between "us" academic chicks and "them" cosmo chicks, or "us" loyal and romantic wives/girlfriends/mothers and "them" career women, that we were aware of the fact that we were asserting stereotypes and choosing one over the other. That we were making those stereotypes, and seeing ourselves within and beyond them, is good enough for me. That we know of women who will continue to be oppressed because they don't have the material conditions to be anything else is powerful enough as it is.

I would rather see many bubbles created by different/differing Pinays, then believe in that one big bubble created by that man who purportedly oppresses us with his mere gaze.

We after all, can already look back. And win a staring contest -- with a man, or woman. And then prick their bubbles as we go along.

Sunday, December 3, 2006

Them and Us ( or Too Many Questions)

Do these women really have the kind of choice they appear to have? Do they make this choice fully aware of what its implications are? Perhaps they themselves are victims of the condition that they help create. Perhaps there is actually a bigger bubble within which they create their own bubbles, the Bubble they have no control over, the Bubble that makes women look with disdain and contempt upon other women. And really the “choice” that they have made is just a coping mechanism, the same way that the choice that WE have made may also be just our own way of surviving with some dignity in this Bubble that so indignifies us. Can we really fault these women for all the insecurities they breed in those of us who do NOT choose fashion and makeup and magazines? Or is there something bigger at work here that makes pawns of us all? Is it possible that we the “educated” ones are actually making matters worse for all of us women by antagonizing Ms. Cosmo? Are we antagonizing Ms. Cosmo? And is there even such a thing as “all of us women”?

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

on women and bubbles

Bubbles ended a recent conversation about two types of women: the ignorant and the politically incorrect. The theory is that these two women live in bubbles – the first, because she doesn’t know any better and the second, because that’s the only way she can get the fame and fortune she obviously enjoys. Somewhere between these two types of women, are those who just find insecurity in the fact of living with burst bubbles all around.

It is an insecurity that many women of the middle class live with in this country.

It is after all, infinitely easier to be a ditz. Worrying only about make-up and clothes, the engagement ring you long for, the fantastic first date and walking down the aisle. To be in that bubble, where everything can be bought and then had, and all happiness can be fulfilled is the easiest thing. Pinays who don’t know any better but to believe in this bubble and make it into a fortress are forgiven. They are after all products of a condition that kept them from being educated in schools that would allow them to spread their wings and realize that there are many alternatives to the life that they watch on American films and television.

But then, in this country, the more educated version of the ditz becomes the editor of women’s magazines, the commercial model on TV, the actress who stars in movies, the TV host with nothing but a twang to be proud of. These women, unlike the ill- or mis- educated, have one all-important thing: choice. The careers they end up doing, the things they end up selling, the whole ideology and image of the Pinay that they engender, are choices that they have made. And they must be taken to task for creating false images of the Pinay as someone who insists that she needs to be whiter than her morena skin, that make-up is the only way to feel better, that the salon is a haven, that we are all capable of becoming women of the world by saying no to everything from education to marriage to children.

These women, when they speak so unapologetically about what they believe is the Filipina of the millennium, when they sell their make-up and clothes, their magazines and television commercials, when they make Filipino women all over the country – and the world – believe that they are living the greatest of lives and everybody else is insufficient, must be criticized time and again. Those bubbles they create for themselves need to be pricked at every juncture.

Those bubbles after all, are the most destructive kind. Within it are women who are aware of the falsity of the choices they’ve made, and yet are slaves to the money that this brings. These are the Pinays who oppress other Pinays everyday, by pointing out how the latter’s lives are imperfect compared to these bubbles that bring in the cash and allow for a certain amount of fame. These are the Pinays who make the choice to sell sell sell, instead of enriching other Pinays’ lives and encouraging them to become individuals in the choices that they make – from life decisions to the clothes that they wear.

These are the Pinays who make it difficult for many of us to be happy with what we have, and come to terms with that which we lack. Because at every juncture, with every magazine and TV commercial, we are shown how we – the real-life Pinays – are not enough.

That these Pinays, we are told, are not so bright is beside the point. They after all become the representation of a whole generation of us who continue to struggle with the battles that our mothers tried to win. Who continue to traverse that thin line between oppression and power, martyrdom and love, sometimes with success, but most of the time with tears and anger. And yet these Pinays in our magazines, TV screens, and movies do not know enough to even see themselves as part of the life of great Pinays before us who fought many battles from the right to vote to the right to wear jeans.

And when we assert that they are not as intelligent as we are, don’t we really only end up creating that bubble within which we find comfort in the fact of our intelligence?

But then again, our difference is that we prick our own bubbles ourselves. If only to find better answers.*