Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Not a Feminist

In a way, I feel that I should not be the one writing this for I am not a feminist and obviously not a woman. Anyway, I am just doing this to give thanks to four important women in my life: my mother, my wife and two daughters. I look forward seeing my girls, Sophia and Anawim, fighting for women’s integral emancipation when they grow old. It’s up for them if they want to be feminists or not. Being a lay worker of the Catholic Church, you can accuse me from this point on of having “anti-feminist” stance and I wouldn’t mind for it maybe true.

March is the commemoration of the Women’s month marking the economic, political and social achievements of women all over the world. Each year round around the globe, International Women's Day (IWD) is celebrated March 8. Organizations, governments and women's groups choose different themes each year that reflect global and local gender issues. Many of them preferred to ‘localize’ their own themes to make them more specific and relevant.

The IWD theme for 2011 as prescribed by the United Nations (UN) is this: “Equal access to education, training and science and technology: Pathway to decent work for women”. The first IWD event was held in 1911 so this year, 2011, is its Global Centenary Year.

I just hope that someday, my two daughters will not join radical feminist groups attacking religious institutions, just like what happened in March 8, 2000 when a group of militant feminists in Montreal, Quebec, set burning crosses on the steps of a Roman Catholic church as a part of a wider ransacking of the building following an IWD march. Burning of crosses is a patented action contributory to the dreaded cult Ku Klux Klan, by the way.

Over the years, feminists have successfully spread their ideology of women’s empowerment through positions of influence in academia, politics, media and the entertainment world. Here in the Philippines, women’s groups, being NGOs and political parties, continue to gain prominence over the decades. Women groups and feminist organizations sustaining to criticize, sometimes mock the Church over issues such as reproductive health. They continue to defy the teachings of the Church by distributing condoms on Valentines’ Day, by cheering on that sacrilegious act at the Manila Cathedral last year. All of those pro-RH Bill stunts were done in the name of women’s rights. Anyone who is not supportive of their stance is considered “anti-feminist”. But in my case, let it be. And taking the risk of getting the ire of some militant quarters, here’s an appropriate quote to drive my point: “Whatever positive image the word feminist may have had, it has been tarnished by those who have made it their own, and I, for one, am content to leave the militants in full possession of the term [feminist].”— Dale O'Leary in her book “The Gender Agenda: Redefining Equality” (p. 23)

Definitely there is no monolithic women's movement and there is no monolithic women's agenda. The current feminism – be it Christian, Catholic, Wiccan, Pagan, Marxist or almost any other kind- is merely a consequence of modern liberalism that demands the replacement of absolute moral standards. Nobody could rightly claim that theirs is authentic or genuine.

Since I am not a feminist (and as I said, some quarters may tag me as “anti-feminist”) I am just wondering, what does a woman can offer to society and to others that is uniquely feminine? For me, it is feminism is when girls demand to be treated better, resisting predatory sexual attitudes and behaviors at home and workplaces and elsewhere. Feminism is when male and female are not discriminated in politics, economics and other social spheres. Feminism is when women say no to being reduced to service counters for men. Feminism is when women whisked off the dirt of self-hatred caused by a society which makes them feel bad about themselves with its emphasis on being famous, rich, slender, fair, hot and sexy. Feminism is also about modesty and decency. But that’s feminism for me no matter how narrow and disturbing are my definitions.

I told you, I have a very limited, weird, and you may put it as dangerous, view of feminism. If I may reiterate, I dream that my two daughters would someday embrace the full richness of their femininity seeing themselves not as jigsaw puzzles to be solved but as hammers and anvils or concrete answers to many hindrance and bottlenecks that beset our culture. That, rather than being ashamed of those qualities that deeply defines it, they would embrace their sensitivity, maternity and receptivity. That in the quest for equality they would not seek to ‘masculinise’ their personality, but rather they would seek a relationship of complementation (‘complementarity’) with men.

During my days in human rights advocacy works, feminism and women’s rights deals only with equality for women, equal treatment under the law, equal education, equal opportunity, equal dignity and respect. But today, based on my following of current events, I discovered that this brand of feminism had been almost totally superseded by the ideology of radical feminism, particularly Marxist feminism. The philosophy of equality-based feminism is a passé already, from my view point. Women rights advocates today no longer interested in discerning the important role of women in Philippine society based on our own culture and tradition, on the effects of contraceptives and abortion, on the complementary role of father and mother in parenting, and all they want to discuss is the total liberation of women. They are more of a revolutionary than a reformist.

If women hope to improve their status they must embrace their womanhood and those qualities that mark their true genius as women. Equal, but not the same as men, capable of bringing something unique, distinct and essential to human relationships and interaction. I repeat, forgive me for I am not a feminist nor a militant and a radical. Not anymore…

(Photo: New Centrist Files)

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