On gender movements

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.

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felix felicis: On gender movements

Monday, July 8, 2013

On gender movements

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.

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