Barako Mama | Yeah, Women!

Today is International Women’s Day. With the recent issues surrounding the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements, women all over the world are being recognized, empowered, and supported. So much so that we all have to take a step back and see how far women have come.

The History of Sexuality

We know that when God created the Universe, he created order and balance. There was this equality of the duality in this world: Yahweh and Shekhina, Adam and Eve, good and evil, order and chaos, light and darkness, yin and yang, action and reaction, positive and negative, and the list goes on. The Law of Equilibrium was established.

If we study the past, we could see that men and women were equal since the beginning. But through the course of history, we see the radical shift towards male domination when men started wars when the stronger men won over the weak.

Another factor that influenced the shift, was how we depicted the fall of Eve in the Garden of Eden. History saw Eve as the symbol of man’s downfall compounded by how we interpreted nudity as something to be ashamed of. Thus, history put women in boxed stereotypes: sinful, object of man’s desire, obscenity, man’s subject, slave, etc.

The Exemplary Women

But there were women in history that stood up to what they believe in. They made their mark in history either in politics, entertainment, and society. These were the women we heard about. These were the women who became inspiration of others.

There were women who were known for good and bad reasons. But they all made our history more interesting because of what they did. Not everyone knows Pharoah Nefertiti but everyone knows Cleopatra. Nikita may be a fictional femme fatale and spy but we had a real life Mata Hari. We may have heard Pocahontas and Mulan as Disney princesses first before knowing their real life stories as heroic women. And if we’re going to list the world’s enigmatic women, the list may be endless.

Lady Godiva

Lady Godiva The first time I heard of this name was in a Queen’s song, “Don’t Stop Me Now“. Lady Godiva was the wife of Leofric, Earl of Mercia. According to legends, Lady Godiva took pity on the people of Coventry, who were suffering under her husband’s oppressive taxation. Lady Godiva appealed numerous times to her husband.

The earl said that he would grant her request if she would strip naked and ride on a horse around the town. He thought his wife will not do it.

But Lady Godiva took his word, and after issuing a proclamation that all persons should stay indoors and shut their windows, she rode through the town, clothed only in her long hair. Just one person in the town, a tailor later named as Peeping Tom, disobeyed her proclamation.

She is just one of the enigmatic women in the world that walked through the face of this Earth.

I returned to pencil sketching and Lady Godiva was my subject. (see photo) Sorry if the photo is not too clear, but my pencil sketch is still visible.

Sex and Violence

Speaking of art, women are often used as subjects in all forms of art — painting, sculpture, dance, music, literature, photography, and film to the point that women equate to sex and violence. Just look at how artists depicted women in their art.

I myself am guilty of making women my heroines and victims in my novels. But that is how artists see the world’s reality especially in crime fiction.

So the contest launched by London-based writer and educator Bridget Lawless may be challenging to all crime fiction writers. She offered to pay $2,800 USD as a reward for crime novels in which no woman is beaten, stalked, sexually exploited, raped or murdered.

Although there were mixed reactions to this call, I think it could make sense. If we’re anti-crime, can we not be pro-heroine? I see this as an opportunity to put women as heroines more than victims.

Let’s Celebrate Women

There has been many issues associated with today’s celebration — equality, harassment, violence, abuse, exploitation, discrimination, etc. But on top of these issues, we celebrate the strength, the resilience, the power, and the love of women in our lives.

Happy Women’s Day!