Why A Feminist Mother Wants A Son

https://www.google.com.ph/url?sa=t&source=web&rct=j&ei=7_vZVOKgOcvj8AXmkICABQ&url=http://m.youtube.com/watch%3Fv%3Dhg3umXU_qWc&ved=0CCMQtwIwAw&usg=AFQjCNEtrUuuiwaiQ7cjDv-30adg_hxnmA

Sorry, writing this on the WP app so I can’t properly show the video. The link above is Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Tedx talk on feminism. You may recognize it as the recording featured on Beyonce’s song “Flawless”. I encourage you to watch it.

I want a son. I want a son more than I want a daughter. The reason is simple: life is easier for a heterosexual man.

It is not that I am not optimistic about gender equality. I still have some hope that the time will come when we will acknowledge that we are all equal. However, clashing with that optimism is the knowledge that life is not fair. And my maternal instincts demand every advantage available for my child.

When my son gets scrapes and wounds from play, he will not be told that his future self will hate him because he will not have flawless legs.

When my son starts to learn how to drink and have fun, I don’t have to worry that he will be date raped.

Should my son have the intelligence for it, he will be welcomed into fields of sciences, mathematics, programming and other related courses with open arms.

My son will earn a higher salary than his female counterparts, regardless of talent and effort.

My son will not be forced to aspire to a standard of beauty, and will not be shamed for failing to reaching it.

If my son does reach that standard of beauty, he will not be called a bitch and a whore if he acknowledges it.

When my son flirts or worse, sleeps around: he will not be called a slut; only a stud, and with a congratulatory pat on the back.

My son will not be shamed for exploring or flaunting his sexuality. Again, pat on the back.

Chances are rare that my son will be sexually assaulted or harassed on public transportation, offices, schools or anywhere, really.

My son can chose to be a feminist and feminist arguments will sound more convincing when they are coming from him instead of me.

Of course, it goes without saying that whatever my child’s gender is, I will accept and love with all my heart. But please, God, should you see it fit, give us a son.

The Summer I Got Summer

This is Summer. My cat.

summer1

Seen here telling me to do a better job of raising him, the wise ass.

I got him when he was smaller than this. And yes, he was still breastfeeding.

IMG_1463I actually didn’t have any plans of getting a cat since-

And just like a cat, he just distracted me right now by typing random characters on the keyboard and showing me his butt. We have three dogs and we didn’t actually know how they’ll react to seeing a kitten.

The fateful summers day we met, was the day I was starting on my new job three months ago. I was jogging and I heard a pitiful meow. Looking down, I saw this thin, dirty and shakily walking kitten determinedly trying to get to the road and I believe, attempt to cross it. I picked up the poor mite and tried to look for its litter mates. Finding none, I decided to leave it on the sidewalk and jog on. However, something stopped me from leaving and good thing too, because I turned around and saw the kitten about to be crushed by an oncoming truck!

I stopped the truck, picked up the kitten and brought it home. I looked into its eyes and couldn’t bear to leave it there! Knowing that the kitten was still breastfeeding, I took some milk from the fridge, heated some milk, and left it for the kitten.

The kitten cannot drink and nearly drowned!

I cleaned the kitten up and did some research on the web. My kitten was around two to three weeks old and needs to breastfeed on milk without lactose, as cats are lactose intolerant.

I called the CARA hotline and got a helpful lady who told me that I should buy pet’s milk from a Pet Express. After work I hurried to the store and bought the cat’s milk. I used a syringe to feed the starving kitten. I was worried it wouldn’t make the night but the kitten was energetic and a lot less shaky the next day.

I told my family that the situation wasn’t permanent. I didn’t want to look after the cat as well, even if I liked the idea. I told them that I will be handing it over to an organization. I called CARA again and I asked if they were willing to take the kitten off my hands. They said that they were so full up, the only accept emergency cases. I called PAWS and it was the same story: both wanted me to adopt the kitten instead.

My brother told me not to name the kitten; when you name a pet, you become attached to it. After two weeks, I gave up. Nameless, he has stolen my heart. And he became Summer. I named him after Bran Stark’s direwolf in A Song of Ice and Fire.

He has been lovingly terrorizing me ever since.

I am not going to fill this post with a lot of cliched BS about how cathartic it is to encounter the pure wonder of owning a pet. Owning a pet is a lot of work, a lot of time, a lot of scratches, a lot of research and a lot of money. However, I feel happy whenever I remember that I, a simple, ordinary human being, have saved a life.

Summer makes me laugh everyday, and nothing can give loving cuddles like a cat. Also turns out, my dogs were cool with cats.

There are a lot of strays out in the street, and in the care of organizations who are at full capacity. Please give a loving pet a loving home. Contact PAWS here and CARA here.

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Feel The Wonder

“May you feel the wonder of those who came before you, and none of the fear.” -Neil DeGrasse Tyson, Cosmos: A Space Time Odyssey

When was the last time you let an idea fly? When you let your imagination grab hold of it and soared on huge wings to the cerulean skies of your mind?

When was the last time you suspended your disbelief in possibilities?

Wonder as defined by Merriam-Webster.com:

noun ˈwən-dər: a feeling caused by seeing something that is very surprising, beautiful, amazing, etc.

In a world in love with gritty reboots, conformity and “keeping in touch with reality,” I think that younger generations are trained to mold themselves to templates set by those who preceded them.

Study hard. Get a good job. Climb the office ladder. Get married. Have 2.5 kids. Buy a house and a car. Live a quiet, non-disturbing life. Save up for retirement. Mold the kids to the template until they graduate. Work and continue the climb until you’re sixty. Retire gracefully and let your kids take care of you until you die. And your kids will follow the same template, and their kids, and their kids.

I fear a time will come when we will fail to build a new world for tomorrow and life simply becomes a process to be completed.

I think it was different for those who preceded my generation. The Baby Boomers, The children of those who survived the second world war, were allowed to go out, build and make their fortunes. My generation and the ones succeeding are entitled and pressured; we are trained to expect leveling up in status and in careers.

But life isn’t a video game. Now, the most creative expressions of wonder I have seen are appropriately humble-braggity posts of food pictures on Facebook. I see a lack of genuine appreciation for life.

I believe in the correlation of wonder, passion and imagination. We are all gifted with immense imagination to pursue our passion, the things we feel wonder for. Everyone is creative in their own way, regardless of where our inclinations; even in science and math! Oh, the beautiful poetry of a properly complex algorithm- if only I could understand them. It is therefore a shame to see people stifle their own callings in order to conform and compromise.

I am not saying that conformity is evil; if that is what makes you happy then so be it. All I am saying is: life is too short to be a robot.

<postscript>And yes, I am a fan of Rage Against The Machine.</postscript>

On Starting Over Again

If you follow my Twitter, and most likely you don’t because I have a whopping 79 followers as of now as I’m writing this (and I appreciate every single one), you will notice that I have put in my description: “A phoenix starting over; soaring soon.”

As I mentioned in my previous essay I am currently recovering from depression and anxiety. Last year has been my life’s lowest point. However, with my now accumulated sackful of salt I take what has happened beyond face value and say that it has been one that has blessed me the most lessons. And since I can’t sleep because I’m a genius and I drank coffee, I’ll share some with you.

1. Depression is not for the fainthearted.

I have to admit that I was once one of those people who thought that people with depression just “can’t deal with it”. Of course, I now have a different opinion.

I read Margarita Holmes’ article on depression and she says, “depression is not a disorder I would wish on anyone,” and I believe the same. Depression isn’t a fun joyride for emo people. It is a hard disorder that makes living, well, a living nightmare.

Learn more about what depression is. Give others your understanding. Trust me, you’d want the favor returned too.

2. Maturity is not the way you appear.

One of the most important things that I learned is that we as a society thrive on appearances. We equate intangible qualities in the tangible way people act towards others and carry themselves.

But I have met people who seemed to be mature at first glace and yet displayed immaturity when they opened their mouths. I think and believe that the true test of maturity is in authenticity. Authenticity is something that we should all strive for. When we are brave enough to always be the real us, that is when we grow up.

3. Learning about yourself is the best weapon you have.

Knowing about you will let you be aware of your shortcomings. And when you are, you then have the chance to show yourself some love and accept them. And who cares if you have them? Everyone does. You are still interesting and likeable. And the fun in knowing about yourself is seeing your awesome parts.

4. Know that some people will never apologize, and you have to be OK with it.

Yup, someone hurt you, made you miserable, or lonely, or angry, and they won’t admit to any wrongdoings.

You have to be OK with it. You can’t make them do what you want, just as no one can make you do what you don’t want. Letting go is tough, but freeing. Also remember: only small people don’t apologize.

5. Nothing feels better than enjoying your work.

6. Negative emotions are barriers to financial wealth.

7. Be grateful, and you will experience joy.

As Brene Brown described in her book, The Gifts of Imperfection, “Happiness is tied to circumstance and joyfulness is tied to spirit and gratitude.

“We need both happiness and joy. I think it’s important to create and recognize the experiences that make us happy. But in addition to creating happiness in our lives, I’ve learned that we need to cultivate the spiritual practices that lead to joyfulness, especially gratitude.”

8. Trust. Not everything in life is out to get you.

In knowing about myself I realized that I have trust issues. Whelp, there it goes. But I think that I am not the only one. I think that everyone has some level of problems with trust. Fear of trusting in happiness. Fears of trusting in people. Fear of trusting in ourselves.

In my experience, the episodes in my life that have punched me square in the gut are the ones that I never worried about. So why bother worrying? Life will always hand out lemons and we will always have to make lemonade. We have to remember that most of the time, life gives us cake to wash down with that lemonade.

Can Mental Issues Be Solved By Romance?

To those who haven’t watched Bride For Rent, this post is Rated S for Spoilers.

spoilers_sweetie

This TARDIS approved spoiler alert brought to you by River Song.

I just finished watching the movie Bride For Rent. I had fun watching it, Kim Chiu is spot on for the perky(sometimes a bit too much?)-funny-yet-normal-girl-next-door character; she seems to be our country’s answer to Zooey Deschanel. Xian Lim is predictable as the McDreamy of teenage girls; he can act well the part of snarling-on-the-outside-yet-wounded on the inside, misunderstood anti-hero that drives girls crazy.

It’s a normal girl gets with rich guy kind of story: Xian needs to pretend to get married in order to get his trust fund and pay his gambling debt, Kim needs to agree because they will be evicted from their home. Pilita (Xian’s grandma) catches Kim and tells her to pretend that her wedding with Xian isn’t fake. Shenanigans, misunderstandings and reconciliations ensue.

The misunderstood hero was all better in five weeks. His issues are gone, forgiveness is given and received, they get married for real and everything ties up into one tidy, pretty pink ribbon. But life is not always so organized. If anything, life is messy; and although some things are quite simple, others are complex. Mental and emotional issues don’t disappear just like that.

To me that myth of romantic love curing mental issues is dangerous. It implies that people with mental problems are simply overestimating their problem. Depressed people are simply “emo” or “cowards”. Bipolar people simply “can’t control their emotions”, and so on.

Let’s talk about Xian Lim’s character for a minute. He parties hard, gambles away 10 million pesos, lies to his grandmother and takes her for granted, disrespects his friends and his wife, fails to deliver ad copies for his godfather who gave him a chance, and is an entitled sonnovabeech. And all these disappear at the end of the movie after a few hugs and tears, and spoken words of love to someone he barely knows.

The movie is not fair to Xian Lim’s character either: their goal is to try and change someone to their ideal instead of trying to understand his issues and help him through them. Yes indeed, he needs to change. But he has deep-seated issues that a therapist needs thigh-high boots to slog through. He was abandoned as a child by his father, who didn’t bother to connect with him after he left and lived his own life with another woman. His mother is dead and his grandmother loves him too much to be able to reign him in and drag him into a psychiatrist’s office.

Trying to change people instead of connecting with them just leaves them feeling all the more alone. How would you feel if someone assumed about your problems and didn’t actually make an effort to understand what you’re going through?

The worst is, he is made to feel inferior because of his issues. He bloody says to Kim Chiu’s character, “You deserve (to marry me again) because you chose to love someone (unlovable) like me.” Way to put yourself down bro.

Romantic love is an illusion. Yes, it feels so good and as they say, if it feels so good then it must be right. But it does not make a relationship. External factors (i.e. having children from a previous relationship, parents not liking you, financial problems, etc.) are easier hurdles compared to compatibility. Do you have the same set of values? Are you friends, and do you like each others’ personality? Do you trust and respect each other? Have you seen each others’ vulnerabilities and not just accepted them, but loved them for it?

[Let me digress for a minute: vulnerability is not weakness. Learn more about vulnerability with Brené Brown’s TED Talk here. She is awesome.]

I tell you now: no, romantic love cannot solve mental and emotional issues.

In order to give credence to what I am saying, I am going to have to admit to experience. I have battled with myself as to if I should reveal something so personal to a blog which, even though it only has a very small readership, any stranger can actually read. But I have decided that courage is one of my virtues, and I am determined to be brave about this most of all.

I have been severely depressed for the past year. To give you a clue: on my birthday last year (2013) I cried for two days because I felt old and unsuccessful. There were times last year when I wouldn’t leave my room to eat or drink for days. (What’s weird is I did take a bath everyday. I can’t take not showering.) With my family’s support, medication and therapy I am doing a lot better, I am a lot happier, but I am still recovering. My birthday was a lot happier this year, I cooked yummy (except for the too salty part) birthday noodles and we ate lumpia ice cream with wansoy and crushed candied peanuts, Taiwan street food style.

There was a time when I blamed and lost my faith in God. Why, what is the purpose of this? Why me? Why would you have skyscraper-tall monsters ravaging me day and night without leaving me any defense? Then He told me, “So that when you recover, you can help others going though the same thing.”

The best solution for mental issues is therapy and a strong support group.

As someone who has experienced depression, I fear that cavalier treatment of mental health issues makes people feel that they have the right to put down people with mental health issues.

Unmistakably, there is a stigma against people who have mental issues here in the Philippines. Most times it is seen as a weakness in character. People who have it just don’t have the mental strength to deal with his/her problems. But you can’t just say, “You are so blessed, you don’t have the right to be upset!” The monsters that plague us aren’t exactly logical.

Let us be tolerant and open-minded, and if we can’t be, let us have the courage and kindness to examine why. Because we all have to admit, our world is full of loneliness and dislike and judgement. As Nikola Tesla once said, “If your hate could be turned into electricity, it would light up the whole world.”

Watch the video the WHO made about depression below. If you know someone who is experiencing depression, anxiety and other mental health issues, be kind, understanding and tolerant. And remember: don’t try to change them. Try to help.

Thank you for reaching the bottom of the page. Let’s all be kind to one another. High five!

The Fear Of Loss

Yesterday my grandma asked me a set of questions about my mom and aunt’s weekend trip to the province over twenty times during the course of the day. I answered them every time as if it was the first time she asked.

She started asking them again today at breakfast and I answered them again as we drank coffee and ate the turon I made. Normal conversation.

As I washed the dishes last night
I saw among them a cracked disposable container. I break it in two before throwing it into the bin. If not, she’ll wash it and keep in her room. “I’ll keep it, you’ll never know when you’ll need it in the future. If you won’t use it, I will,” she always says. Then she forgets about it after safekeeping.

Every time I notice her dementia getting worse I feel my heart beat in dread. I don’t want a time to come when she won’t remember who I am.

My grandmother was a powerhouse of a woman. She almost single-handedly brought up her children, her husband either working or gambling at the mahjong parlors. She managed poverty and family with an iron hand, severely strict, dishing out corporal punishment to disobeying children. After she raised successful children and her eldest daughter’s marriage ended, she did it all over again with her traumatized grandchildren. Serving a steady structure of homely discipline, work (we manned her sari-sari store) and great food.

Now, her eldest granddaughter (me) just turned thirty. She still yearns to be able to take care of us, but everyone is at an age where we are all supposed to take care of ourselves and everything else, and we do. My heart breaks every time I see her feel without use and unable to help. She tries to remind us of things she thinks we’ve forgotten, like dishes left on the table, and we sometimes answer an irritated “we know!” when we’re very tired because of course we haven’t forgotten. Then after a little while she reminds us of the same thing again.

But she is still very important, irreplacable help. I still need her there; to bolster me whenever she hugs me and I see her beam in pride and complete confidence in me. To be told of my stories several times because she forgets. For me to be told of her stories several times so that I don’t forget. I tell her of her importance, but she thinks I am patronizing her.

If only I could keep her always and happy as she is now: in the garden, sewing our torn clothes, the dogs at her feet. Me going over to sit beside her to hear the comforting stories I have heard a hundred times.