Saturday was awesome.
Our Theory Class in the afternoon had an interesting discussion on women
studies, LGBT issues and other matters related to gender. Ok, so I was close to
dozing off at the first twenty minutes of the class. I guess because I hadn’t
had enough sleep. Anyhoo, the class discussion took a better turn when one of
our classmates gave us the basics on Sexual Orientation and Gender Issues.
SOGI, he calls it. He said it’s a seminar usually given to college students by
LGBT orgs, we’re getting them inside the classroom. Hehehe.
The more interesting
part was when we we’re asking ourselves why the rights-based movements, i.e.
feminism and LGBT, do not gain much ground on Asian societies. Some of my
classmates said that it might be because of incorrect comments coming from the
media. Some said that it’s too focused on the white middle-class struggle that
it forgets that there are other members of the society that has to be included
too. When asked for my opinion on this, I premised my insight on GMA News Blogger Leloy Claudio’s article, In defense of the parlor gay. In the article,
the writer had often observed that a lot of “burgis” gays are distancing
themselves from the “parlorista” gays— the former consider themselves “the modern incarnations of the homosexual”
while the latter “reflects a version of
homosexuality that Philippine society finds hard to accept: he/she is loud and
threatening to straight men,” hence, a clear barrier to further promoting
and mainstreaming gay rights. He furthers the discussion by quoting a friend’s
argument: “The parlor bakla is not
global; he/she is lower class and performs a backward homosexuality; he/she is
a bothersome reminder of the fact that queerness in the Philippines is
different from the desired queerness of the West.”
I told Prof that such
an observation in the Philippine gay community cannot be more different if
applied across Asia or discussed parallel to women’s rights movements. We rally
for equality and acceptance in a larger scale but along those lines we also
create internal cleavages or discriminatory classes that divide the cause that
we’re trying to move across. We tend to forget the fact that in certain
societies, differences exist. Ignoring them will essentialize the cause—we might
end up oversimplifying things while fighting only for causes that we can relate
to or we think will improve the image that we’re trying to forget. But recognition
and positive action on these pluralities might just broaden the perspectives we
have. Nuances are needed to better define the causes we’re trying to advocate
and the rights we’re fighting for. The women’s rights movement, if only focused
on the Anglo-American or French perspectives, will really not reach a global
audience. The experiences of American and European women are way too different
from those in Southeast Asia, India, China or even in Africa. A closer look
then on their culture might just be of help.
The class ended with
all of us gushing over GMA’s primetime show, My Husband’s Lover. The show
tackles the issues that affect gays having a hard time coming out. We all felt
that it was something fresh and really bold. After class, I went to UP Film
Center to catch the remastered version of Lino Brocka’s opus, Maynila: Sa Mga
Kuko ng Liwanag. Insights on the film are on the next entry.
Labels: 2013, 22, acad stuff, class discussions, gender movements, LGBT, one billion rising, school, women empowerment