I am riddled with guilt. Mom guilt tops the list, then there’s plastic guilt (you know, that shameful feeling every time I use and improperly discard plastic waste), and the feminist guilt. Dealing with the first two is quite clear cut to me. I know my daughter and the ways I’m supposed to rear her, it’s the discipline to do so that I’m constantly beating myself over. God knows I’ve been trying to be more environmentally conscious. Feminism I embrace and hope to push for and challenge forces that surround it. But the path to those goals is where it becomes murky. I usually ask myself, “Is this thing I’m doing contributing to the cause?” And, “Am I exemplifying the ideal feminist to my child?”
Being a mother and working woman affected by the issues’ repercussions, I know that I should have an internal compass that’ll help me act accordingly, but the movement’s voices I’m bombarded with make me second guess myself. On one end, there are the Kardashians of the internet dictating how to express my sexuality, embracing the norms of beauty and fashion as self-expression rather than conforming to sexist notions. And then on the other end of the spectrum, you have the warriors that go to the extent of shaming women who do what culture perceives as feminine and call men “f*ck boys” for these supposed gender stereotype preferences.
So you can imagine the battle I have with my shaver and makeup. Every freakin’ time I line my brows I have these opposing voices in my head.
“Do it because you want to, not because you’re out to please a man!”
“But if I perceive it as pleasing, isn’t it because I was conditioned to think so by the patriarchy?”
“Good luck walking around Makati with no eyebrows then.”
But god do I love my cleanly shaved vagina. I dislike my pubes just as much as I hate them on my hubby.
“That is not your natural state. You must embrace your imperfections and stop conforming. And stop wearing heels. Wait! And go vegan, too.”
“But… but…. I’m itchy down there! It’s 30 degrees outside!”
I know that these are menial, but I do believe that every action counts. I have a daughter to think of. My child is a sponge, a canvas who looks up to me to help her define her norms and beliefs. It’s sad that even within our own movement and circles we’re faced with passionately opposing views. We tend to shame each other at times, judge without looking deeper, and can be dead set with our principles that we forget another important yet lacking human quality—empathy.
It’s easier to relate when we put faces behind the words when we acknowledge the person in a noisy crowd. We have our general stance against the patriarchy and that’s good because it’s affecting change. And then we have our individual standards and understanding based on the men in our lives. Our partners, fathers, brothers. The same goes for each other. We judge the women belonging to different groups, but meet them and get to know them, and we find commonality and even learn from each other.
We are all different; we can agree to disagree. But we need to empathize, to dig deeper, to stop the judgment that only furthers stereotypes. Educate then act, fight for the good and acknowledge the different ways we can get there. We can’t lose sight of our common goal. And that’s to establish gender equality in the political, economic, and social realms.
Art by Tricia Guevara
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