In 2012, I published Of Love And Other Lemons, a book that’s deceptively about love, but which is really about growing up Pinay in a country like the Philippines, where womanhood is difficult and painful and confusing, and feminism is not a word I use thoughtlessly. In 2013, in a talk with the Unyon ng Manunulat ng Pilipinas, I was asked if I considered myself a feminist. I said no, not because I do not believe in the principles of feminism, but because I know my place in the context of Filipino feminists who are out on the streets, organizing on the ground, talking to real women who represent the majority who are impoverished, and fighting for their basic rights to live decently just as human beings. I had said then: nakakahiya to call myself a feminist given what they do, dahil para sa’kin sila ang tunay na peminista.
Six years after, in 2019, and I still believe much of what I said then. I still think that the form of feminism that is most important in a place like the Philippines where class and privilege are the crucial markers of difference, is feminism that’s out on the streets, that is in touch with the lives of the majority of women on the ground, that is fighting for basic human rights, that demands justice for the oppressed and disenfranchised, that seeks change and development that includes the majority who are poor, that refuses to see them as burdensome, as collateral damage, as charity work. The task is simply for people’s basic rights. And that can only be women’s rights, too.
What has changed though, is this: I dare call myself a feminist now. (more…)