Monday, April 2, 2007
What's a woman got to do ha
. .“Thank your grandmothers and mothers who have lived and paved the way for you ladies to have a better life out there.” That’s something I said to a class some months ago. Y’know, the fun part about teaching is that sometimes you get engaged in this impromptu soliloquy where instant insights lead to sudden outbursts of authentic talk–”me” talking. I’ve recently turned thirty. While age really has not become an issue for me in terms of being more and more aware of the expected wiles of physically maturing, read: hormonal imbalance, living with the fact that at 30, your skin starts aging, etc, I’ve become more highly aware of the question: Do I count? Have I made my life count?I live for stimulating conversation because of the way I probably was brought up. The women in my family have all set a precedent for the women in my generation– from the daughters to now, us, the grand daughters. At this point, I’m short of saying that yes, I came from a matriarchal family. Therefore, when I got educated in UP: as to the fact that women have always been placed in the disadvantaged binary opposite of man, it was then only dawned upon me that the social world I actually live in is not in my favor. At this point, when I learned about this, confirmed it in my life, saying, “Yes, yes, that is all true . . . Ah, no wonder. . . — Ironically, I was already married. See, that’s what I get for not pushing through with a UP undergrad education — and later just to go to UP for grad school. Yes, I’ve studied feminism and most, if not all, the isms in school– but if you ask me if I’m a feminist– I would say that even before feminism was brought to my consciousness, I already had built-in chips on empowered womanhood. I was raised in a family where women took on a strong voice at home. And so, absolutely clueless I was to the expected subservient behavior of women. My mother worked, she employed maids; she drove; she went to the parlor; she got herself into the habit of continuing education; and she managed all these by being the woman of the house. And so my dad, who also worked; also drove. Why am I stressing on the driving thing? here’s why: Sometimes, when I’m behind the wheel of my car and I get to pass by the streets with children– boys and girls alike, going home from school, I get to hear them say, “Tignan mo oh, babae nag-dra-drive?” I feel good. I say, “good, I count”. Seeing a woman drive extends the synapses of a girl’s brain into at least even hoping that it is possible. . . dreaming that it’s possible. My mother and her sisters total to 7. (They had one brother who unfortunately was murdered). All of them have lived the life preceded by my grandmother who lived as strong headed as both her husbands (taken one at a time mind you– Lola was widowed twice). I’ve one time felt trapped as soon as I’ve gotten married. Suddenly the patriarchal expectations of a wife set me in a depressing mood: Before I got married, I was confident with how I looked, how I was as a person– specially, my inner me. I thought I was ready for the world and that I can take on whatever it was to be a “wife”– not that I even really thought profusely about it. Oh well, but yes, I didn’t know– I was totally naive about the fears set at bay–standards of beauty: One had to have big boobs, the super bod, the obedient puppy, a woman who knows her place— in the kitchen, in the room, even in the toilet. Woman must stay at home kind of thing. . . I wasn’t made for that. I always seemed odd when at parties, all the men would bunch up together and all the women would bunch up together— it seemed odd to me, and I was odd to them. Why couldn’t it be mixed? I found myself level-headed and apt to speak out in any conversation regardless of being aware of my gender. Well, thank goodness, I truly truly truly thank my lucky stars: My mother in law is as empowered and as head strong as the women in my family are. As soon as I’ve realized that, I had a special bond with my mother in law. It’s not that we ganged up on the men in the family including my husband, but she was even one of the first ones from the side of my in-laws to support my resuming to work after I have given birth. I knew what it was like to be a homemaker and at this point, I totally put in high reverence women who have opted, women who have been ordered, women who had no other choice but to bear the equal boon and bane of staying at home– because I couldn’t. I just couldn’t. Besides, realistically, our household needed the support of two incomes. When I found out in the ultrasound that the baby I was carrying was a girl, my first silent-kept-to-myself reaction was– Oh no! Would she survive? Grow up to be a stronger, wiser woman than myself? Will she get hurt? Will she be happy? And while Kahlil Gibran says such, please look to the bold-marked words,: Your children are not your children. They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself. They come through you but not from you, And though they are with you, yet they belong not to you. You may give them your love but not your thoughts. For they have their own thoughts. You may house their bodies but not their souls, For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams. You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you. For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday. You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth. The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite, and He bends you with His might that His arrows may go swift and far. Let your bending in the archer’s hand be for gladness; For even as He loves the arrow that flies, so He loves also the bow that is stable. I do believe, to this very day, that women and men set ripples, set precedents, of whatever sky we set our children to as we cast and string our “arrows”– what sky is it? what hands have set the arrows in motion? WE WERE ALL ONCE ARROWS TOO. You may ask how my husband is? I am sure he is fine. He gets to have his Yamaha R1– he’s living his passions while I on the other hand am likewise living my passions: studying, writing, traveling– it is a daily reconciliation of what marriage and friendship should be. . . despite differences– one learns to choose to be happy.