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A Reflection on Feminism and the Post-Colonial Conception of Gender in the Philippine Context

JHOEMAR REY O. ALTOMEA 2002-44428 MMS 111 Considering its various types and philosophies, it would be logical to argue that one of the significant problems that Feminism in totality faces is determining the common standpoint on which its struggle for equality should be grounded. Since every situation or experience is historically subjective, womens status in a political, economic, social, or cultural realm may be interpreted contingently, consequently presenting plurality in meanings. Moreover, it would be rational as well for us to argue that for a novel proposal or idea to be accepted, it should be capable enough to deconstruct established ideologies, if not, is capable to fit in with the prevailing standards. As these aspects could be quite demanding, it is therefore essential for the advocates of Feminism to be aware and actively be involved in the process. In this regard, we may qualify that the movements proposal should reasonably be attainable and generally be beneficial.

Advocates of Feminism are inclined liberate women by defining the essence of a woman as well as her capabilities and role in the society. Ironically, however, the more that the concept is being defined, the more a woman is being contained. Consequently, such process of defining also affects alternative theories in Feminism, for example, Lesbian and Queer Theories. Regrettably, once these concepts are applied to specific ideologies and situations, the movement may indirectly restrict itself to further possibilities, i.e. liberty, equity, reparation, etc.

Another difficulty would be on the methodology on how the movement deals with the problem. We may take the arguments that Jane Fonda presented during the National

Conference for Media Reform. It was apparent that she was promoting womens rights by attacking patriarchy; however, she was aiming for democracy as a resolution. It may have been more appropriate to provide solutions that may promote democracy and human rights instead of introducing isolated cases. Undeniably, Abeer Qassim Hamza al-Janabis case was a testament of violation of womens rights. Nonetheless, we have to keep in mind that this is more than just an issue in Feminism. Abeer Qassim Hamzas family was murdered as well. This may be argued upon the grounds of racism and national identity.

On Social Justice and Equality Various aspects in a society may result into inequalities, especially when we consider things directly related to physiology, class, workplace, and civil rights. These may classify a person through his/her capabilities as a human being, status in the society, status as part of the workforce, and status a citizen. As such, inequalities may be inevitable and we may instead consider these issues under social justice and equality among equals. In his interpretation of the Philippine Constitution, Jose Agaton Sibal defined social justice as the promotion of the welfare of all the people, the adoption by the government of measures calculated to ensure the economic stability of all the competent elements of society, through the maintenance of a proper economic and social equilibrium in the interrelations of the members of the community. As an exception, he also provided that social justice does not champion division of property or equality of economic status; what it and the Constitution do guarantee are equality of opportunity, equality of political rights, equality before the law, equality between the values given and received, and equitable sharing of the social and material goods on the basis of efforts exerted in their production. (Sibal 1994)

As a Feminist movement may introduce various problems on inequality given a specific situation, it would be appropriate to provide a general or universalizable solution that may

accommodate a common need. Nonetheless, given the subjectivity of the situation concerned and given the contingency of factors involved, it would be more appropriate to attack the problem in an isolated manner.

The Post-Colonial Conception of Gender in the Philippines The Filipino women being identified within the bounds of Hispanic colonial ideologies and religious dogmas may be seen as emasculated. On the other hand, we may say that the masculinity of the Filipino men is somehow reconstructed in the sense that it adheres with the Western mindset on gender status. Nonetheless, gender equality in the Philippine society is apparent compared to other countries, specifically, Southeast Asia. Filipinos have traced kinship bilaterally even before the pre-Hispanic period. Filipino women receive rights to legal equality and may also inherit family property. Currently, they even hold some administrative/government positions and some even head major business enterprises. (Dolan 1991)

Filipinos give high regards to their family. The traditional Filipina wife does all the household related chores, while her husband does the heavy works since more strength is required. It is said the Filipino women find pride in their work and their family-oriented attitude give them a sense of dignity and responsibility. (Wikipedia n.d.)

Much can be discussed under Feminism. Nonetheless, I wish to assert that Feminism is only a part of the worldwide struggle for justice and national identity. The issue behind inequality will always surface as long as one tries to compare his/her status to a level which is impossible for him or her to reach, given the incontrollable factors. It would be more appropriate to pursue women rights on how a person is being represented as a human being.

My arguments in this paper may be a testament that I am an advocate of human rights more than Feminism. One factor could be that I belong to a post-colonial society which also gives high regards to women. Nonetheless, may a woman celebrate her womanhood without being compared to men. May we celebrate differences, however, still within the boundaries of being a human being.

REFERENCES Dolan, R. E. (1991). Philippines: A Country Study. Retrieved from http://countrystudies.us/philippines/44.htm Jane Fonda at the NCMR http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xwDJDv0zJvM&feature=channel Sibal, J. R. (1994). The Constitution of the Philippines 1987. Quezon City: Central Professional Books, Inc. Wikipedia. The Social Women in the Philippines. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Women_in_the_Philippines