As an alumna of an all-girls school, I have war stories of how cliques bullied and made fun of me for no good reason. So when I looked over the social media pages of Grrrl Gang Manila, I was wary. Here’s a place where a bunch of women plan to gather. God knows what women in batches can do.
It’s time to change that outlook. With the rise of feminist thought in the wave of alt-right sentiments, women banding together should be feared by only one group of people: misogynists. The record-breaking Women’s March should show you that along with the many other campaigns that encourage women to unite against the things that are pulling us apart.
Grrrl Gang Manila got its start when Paris-based designer Mich Dulce was getting her eggs frozen in Belgium and joining the marches against Trump. She realized that she wanted to do more. “On social media, lately, there’s a lot of frustration over what we can do about [women’s rights],” she said. She then called up a couple of friends and bandmates for her idea. “Abroad, I am so active in these groups that just help women group together and talk about things they usually can’t do with people around them.”
Yes, it’s a group. But it’s not a members-only, we-only-wear-pink-on-Wednesdays type of group. Mich insists how she doesn’t want to be seen as the founder of it, taking away the notion that there is a leader to serve here. What Grrrl Gang Manila envisions is to have a community to empower all kinds of women, to create a space for women to relate with others outside their usual sphere. “It’s one thing to relate to your friend, it’s another to be able to share something to a complete stranger and find out that you have an experience in common,” she says.
Mich’s story on how Grrrl Gang came to be is reflective of the connections she was talking about. Preen.ph’s Momhood columnist Marla Darwin was one of the women Mich called with the idea of Grrrl Gang Manila. Marla was frustrated how there was no successful Manila Women’s March. Marla liked how Grrrl Gang could be a vehicle to push abstract beliefs into concrete action, “I realized that there wasn’t enough effort to push our advocacies out in real life. I try to do my part by using my platforms (social media, my work as a graphic designer, my written columns) but I wasn’t really going out in the real world to seek other people to do something,” says Marla. “We have a thriving feminist scene here and their focus has been on poverty alleviation and sexual abuse but we don’t have a community yet for emotional support or a jump-off point for anyone who’s curious about feminism.”
Earnest Mangulabnan-Zabala is another woman who loved the idea of the group. “I was excited when Mich called me because I wanted to form something like this early in 2001.” She’s looking forward to Grrrl Meet #1 this coming Saturday, March 25. Admission is free for all and there will be no speakers. It will be a casual set-up where women can share their experiences, ask questions without being judged. Earnest looks forward to “soak it all in” as the event goes by. She doesn’t want to put up any expectations because “within a community of women, there are other subcommunities.”
On Saturday, Grrrl Meet #1 is the first of the concrete actions Grrrl Gang Manila is spearheading. It’s where the gang is going to meet up. Who is part of it? You! Marla tells us, “Grrrl Meet #1 aims to draw out the causes that matter to the community and to figure out solutions and activities from there. It’s definitely more grassroots and it gives community members more ownership in what they do”
All you have to do now is log on to Facebook and RSVP to the event. From a phone call to one friend to another, to an online community, to an actual group coming together just because we are women. Women are indeed #StrongerTogether.