Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Any Woman Will Do

Apologies for the tardiness of this post. I’ve been watching the conventions, bemused by how warring factions are brought into the fold – always a matter of interest to me, since I belong to an ethnic community eternally wracked by grudges.

Still watching the Repubs and feeling uncharacteristically drained of energy; something about the spectacle is deadening. I can’t even take seriously the debate about Sarah Palin, the shrill outcry of “sexism!” whenever her credentials as a politician and/or as a soccer mom are questioned. Seems to me that there’s sexism in here, all right, but everybody misses what it is, exactly.

The choice was, to put it mildly, totally d**k-brained, classical patriarchal thinking that women are interchangeable, replaceable, disposable. The objective was to sop up all those females left disgruntled by Hillary’s loss and never mind that Palin’s and Clinton’s positions on women’s rights are diametrically opposed; in the patriarchy’s eyes, they are, as one comedian put it, “genital sisters.” Most of the so-called male “pundits” – a word that comes from the Indian pandit, meaning scholar; just as boondocks come from the Tagalog word bundok, meaning mountain, ah, these legacies of colonialism in the English language… in any case, most male pundits ignore or take as normal this assumption in the Repub’s decision to field a female vice-presidential nominee.

Truth is I’ve seen many a cynical and contemptuous decision about women but this just takes the cake, assuming as it does that women wouldn’t notice the difference; that, in that comedian's words, the “genital sisterhood” would flock in support of a woman who’s for restricting women’s reproductive rights.

The view that women are interchangeable is right up there in the mainstream, an undercurrent through a range of political thought and agenda, left to right. In this era of patriarchal resurgence – one undoubtedly partly fueled by the success of the worldwide trade in women in both labor and sex markets – few notice it and many take it as normal, par for the course. From Canada to Africa, women with a combined ten thousands years of accumulated knowledge from lifetimes of engagement in women’s liberation are being disposed of, with impunity, and replaced by often younger, malleable ones willing to accept the thesis that the struggle for women’s rights and freedoms comes last in the pantheon of social grievances that must be addressed. Had they been male, they would’ve been considered irreplaceable, in the tradition of octogenarians who occupy positions of power to their death beds.

Fact is the momentum for a “de-genderized” female leadership has been increasing in the last decade, as various deceptions and arguments are used to erode the little gains in rights and freedoms for women. The small centers of political power that women manage to develop are under constant siege from day one of their establishment, the viciousness of such attacks disproportionate to the power and influence such centers wield. From day one, such organizations and centers for women’s political power are reminded of their “proper” place in the hierarchical universe.

A further irony is that women are complicit in this disempowerment of women, preferring a familiar oppression to the unknown responsibility of a new freedom. And as long as a sizeable portion of womankind refuses to acknowledge the particularities of oppression and exploitation for women, refuses the commonality of oppression stemming from what Engels called “the historic defeat of womankind,” then the task of women’s emancipation is made that much more difficult, that much longer to achieve.

BTW: here’s news from GABNet:


SAN DIEGO, CA, 1 September 2008 – The 10th Congress of GABNet USA elected its new national council and laid down the new focus and direction for the largest and oldest continuously operating all-women's organization led by women of Philippine ancestry. Members from seven cities attended the three-day gathering.

Candice "Kuttin Kandi" Custodio, world-famous hip hop artist, was voted GABNet National Chair-Elect. Her formal oath-taking will take place at an event to be designated by the organization…


Ms. Custodio heads an impressive national council that includes union organizer Jollene Levid as GABNet secretary-general; Executive Director of the University of California San Diego Women's Center Emelyn de la Pena as campaign director; youth organizer Ivy Quicho as organizing director; writer and paralegal Olivia Quinto as education director and civil engineer Laureen Abustan as finance director.

The National Council will have a term of two years during which it will lead GABNet in mobilizing women to intensify the Purple Rose Campaign Against the Trafficking of Women and Children; to protest US militarism and expose its devastating effects on women; and to defend defenders of women's rights and freedoms around the world.

My first meeting with Kuttin Kandi was way back in ‘99, I think. Sockie, another GABNet member, and I were sent to speak to her as she had volunteered to put together an event for the Purple Rose Campaign. It was near Thanksgiving and New York City was practically devoid of people (yes, most New Yorkers come from elsewhere). We entered this building which turned out to be a nightclub with dim red and blue lights, complicated musical electronic equipment and music blaring from mammoth speakers. We walked past a male teenager upside down on the floor, twirling on his head. Sockie bent down to ask, “are you all right?” We searched for Kandi through six floors, feeling like we were in a weird labyrinth, encountering performers trying out what looked like Cirque de Soleil antics (yes, I was a Cirque groupie when it was just an unknown Montreal circus). We finally found her, spoke a little through the eardrum-splitting music and agreed to meet. So a week later, I went – very, very, very nervous – to Kandi’s family’s house in Queens, not knowing what to expect, the hiphop world being totally alien to the Shankar fan that I was. To be frank, I expected bizarreness galore. I walked into this bungalow and laid eyes on a life-sized Virgin Mary in the living room. Ah, well, nothing to worry about, familiar grounds and all that, very Pinoy... Years later, Kandi cracked up when I told her the story. -- #


Anonymous said...

Palin's anti-abortion but pro-killing of animals, including wolves, bears and mooses. Is there a connection between the two positions? Can someone explain to me this discrepancy?

Anonymous said...

Surely, as a writer, you worry about Palin's attempt to ban books from her city's library.

Ninotchka Rosca said...

Yes, indeed.

And I take a dim view of any hortatory pronouncement about country uber alles.

There's a major political difference between country and people.

And it seems to me this is the major difference between the Dem and Repub's speeches -- those I've watched/listened to, thus far.

Not that I believe they mean anything they say.

Okay, call me cynical.

Anonymous said...

Long live Kandi!!!

Will you write some rap now, Ms. Rosca?

Ana Cristina said...