Thursday, April 7, 2011

Filipino Women

I woke up this morning thinking about Filipino women. Filipino women are strong. They are presidents. They run businesses. There are a lot of cultures where women are like that. The men don't mind, are not shamed by being bossed around by women. They would rather go hunt, fight chickens, or whatever anyway. And make garden. That is what we say: make garden. "What are you doing these days, now that you are retired?" "Oh, you know, I am making garden." Filipino men are hardwired with the green thumb.

On the other hand Filipino women are known worldwide as sex workers and cleaning women. Is there a conflict in that? Perhaps not. Perhaps it is only a certain perspective that sees sex and cleaning up as degrading. Both arts are, can be, an honest living. Both arts are very much a part of honest living.

Then I realized I'd read this a few days ago from UKL i.e. Ursala K. Le Guin (who I've been mad in love with since grade school) :

…like that woman we all know who's been pushed so far over by cultural bias that she can't stand up and crawls around the house scrubbing and waxing and spraying germ killer on the kids. But even on her kneebones, where you and I will never join her, even she has been practicing as best she knows how a great, ancient, complex, and necessary art. That our society devalues it is evidence of the barbarity, the aesthetic and ethical bankruptcy, of our society.

As housekeeping is an art, so is cooking and all it involves – it involves, after all, agriculture, hunting, herding…So is the making of clothing and all it involves….And so on: you see how I want to revalue the word "art" so that when I come back as I do now to talking about words it is in the context of the great arts of living, of the woman carrying the basket of bread, bearing gifts, goods. Art not as some ejaculative act of ego but as a way, a skilful and powerful way of being in the world.

From: Bryn Mawr Commencement Address, Dancing at the Edge of the World, 155.

There is another kind of culture and another way of being in the world, waiting there in the wings, already there but not easily visible. Already being practiced but without fanfare, without being on the cover of magazines. It is the same kind of thing that gives (Filipino) women their strength.

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