Thursday, January 3, 2008

Deconstructing the Feminist-Filipina

Is Feminist-Filipina a socio-political construct that will eventually evolve into this uber-being or just a soapbox for empty materialism as a corporate byproduct of Corporate Manila?

By: Vanessa Uy and May Anne Uy

The Feminist-Filipina: What a curious beast? Do they define themselves by pledging allegiance to cause oriented groups currently in vogue like “Gabriela?” (Aren’t they always in vogue?). Or are they collectively taking a stance –however unpopular- against a part of our heritage that we should not have been proud of. Like the 500 or so years of the Catholic Church’s hegemony on our nation that has managed to keep the genocidal acts against the native peoples of most of the “New World” and the destruction of these people’s way of life from becoming common knowledge. We –the writers-wonder if the concept of “self determination” and “human rights” means something to The Vatican back then? Is the Feminist-Filipina in essence a stillborn ideology due to preceding historical events? To find out, first let’s take a look into the past.

Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel saw history as a “dialectic”-a process of constant change brought about by the inevitable clash of opposing ideas. According to this theory, the tension between conflicting ways of thinking caused a struggle for power/control. Out of this struggle came: new ideas, new solutions, and the process cycles back again. Hegel’s “idea-centric” view on the dialectic should make our present day information society a “Dialectic Nirvana” for him. While Karl Marx’s view on this “dialectic” was to us more pragmatic because humanity doesn’t live on ideas alone. Marx’s view on the “dialectic” was not limited to opposing ideas but rather humanity’s ceaseless desire for material self-improvement. In other words, everyone want’s to get rich by any means necessary. To Marx, the “dialectic” was actually a struggle for coveting material goods and the control of the means of producing them. History was the record of this struggle.

If you think both of Hegel’s and Marx’s view on history sounds like a book report on Nicolo Machiavelli’s “The Prince” to you, then you are not alone. Many an enlightened scholar subscribes to this point-of-view. Like the “ideas” extolled by Sun Tzu’s “The Art of War” or Miyamoto Musashi’s “The Book of Five Rings” are practically a handbook on how to deal with conflict within the ever-changing socio-political dynamic in a manner that’s still acceptable in our contemporary supposedly-politically-correct-pluralistic society. And just because these works are old, it’s very important not to undervalue the ideas and lessons contained in the writings of Machiavelli, Sun Tzu, or Musashi. We are not talking about abstract philosophies here that might be discussed in the corporate meetings between TV moguls and the “Focus Groups” on how to boost the viewer ratings on upcoming “Pinoy Soap Operas.” There are human ramifications on what the general population perceive, as correct and how these people conduct themselves in our society while harboring their pre-conceived ideas. Believe it or not, the responsibility has fallen upon us-like manna from heaven- to enlighten everyone. Even those who are out to get us feminists!

The Catholic-centered Philippine society has a perception that feminism is much like Darwinism-determination without strategy which they have a disdain for being a Godless ideology. On why after all this time they can’t declare d├ętente is beyond us. Even though the Philippine society in general are somewhat complacent on the issue on the necessity for women in general to learn noble traits which are traditionally reserved for men like militaristic-style honor and self-sacrifice. Is this a holdover from our Victorian past? Gene Roddenberry’s Star Trek like the works of Friedrich Nietzsche isn’t exactly curricular requirements on this part of the world.

Are the glory days of the Feminist-Filipina still yet to come, or does it “suffer” from being viewed as just a passing phase or a fashion statement du jour? Must we be at the mercy of the Holy Bible toting folks who continue to confuse their maps for our territory? That’s a shame though since the most interesting parts of the Holy Bible are seldom discussed like Genesis chapter 19 verses 32 to 34 or that Iron Maiden song about Revelations chapter 13 verse 18.

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