me, the anti-woman

Me, the anti-woman (à lòpposé femme). Hippolyta before Persephone. Athena before Aphrodite. Kriemhild before Helen. Medea, Electra, Countess Ellen Olenska, Alice Munro, Anna Karenina, Emma Bovary, the decadent destroyer of men – Nana and Viola of the Twelfth Night before the virginal suicidal Ophelia – no, am not praising the adulterous nature of some of these women, but I find it remarkable that they dared go against the grain of conventional society even if it led to their ultimate destruction. The murderously jealous Medea over the fair queen Desdemona, who, in all her goodness and loyalty perished at the hands of her own husband Othello. 

23Medea

When I was about 13, my dad asked my mom in earnest: Is our daughter a tomboy? The term being the (mild) Filipino counterpart for a girl with boy-like mannerisms – “tibo” on the other hand is more of an ascertainment of a fact that if one is “tibo”, one is most definitely a lesbian. My mom laughed it off and wondered why he asked such a ridiculous question. Dad shook his head and said: It’s coz of the way she walks.

Indeed, when my breasts started to grow, I developed a stooped posture (presumably a way to hide my developing “assets”) and, as a consequence, developed a rather manly gait that was the reason my dad began to worry about my sexual orientation. Little did he know that the latter part of my childhood was marked by little romantic tragedies chronicled in my tiny little diaries.

Anyway, you must wonder why I call myself the anti-woman.

Not that I have anything against women, in fact, I am a staunch supporter of women’s causes, women’s rights – am against all forms of abuse and believe myself to be a Marxist feminist. I am just not your typical feminine woman that’s all.

I am not your coy little angel with fluttery lids and pouty lips (well, I pout sometimes, but in displeasure). I won’t wear thigh high slits or show off my cleavage to attract a man’s attention or get a job / promotion. I avoid make-up as much as possible (my cosmetics usually get expired – I purchase some, just in case, then they end up moldy). I do not make eye contact anywhere except in business functions and interviews. I do not smile at everyone I see. I do not say “good morning” to everyone. I do not look around as I walk. I look straight ahead and walk really fast. To some, I’d look like a snob – actually, am myopic. Can’t see clearly beyond my nose. 😉 I don’t walk with a deliberate swaying gait or let my butt and breasts jut out to look better. I am not wont to ask a man to buy stuff for me to tip the already imbalanced scales of power (ah, power, yes – there is a power struggle even in a relationship involving just two people). I don’t go running in the park with my hair loose and cosmetics on, wearing the latest trend in running clothes and matching trainers. I don’t grow my nails and never have foot spas and facials. And what is a Moroccan bath by the way?

When I was three, I witnessed a bridge a few meters away from our place collapse as water lilies, carried by the strong currents of that great flood, piled at the foundations and pulled the structure apart.

I have seen members of the New People’s Army pass through our neighborhood, asking for new slippers, some water and a little food.

When I was around seven or eight, I smelled the stench of death as a carabao plodded on through our barrio with a covered cart … it carried the body of a man (an informant of which side I cannot remember) and his seven-year-old son who was tied to him with a rope and shot in the grave that he was ordered to dig up himself.

I survived a major earthquake and a catastrophic volcanic eruption. I’ve scaled mountains and groped my way in the dark on my stomach through caves.

I’ve been hit by a 4WD, got a little bruised and had to have an X-ray, went to work and was sent home anyway.

There have been regrettable episodes in my life that I would not care to mention except maybe in an autobiography which I have no plans of writing just yet. Things I wouldn’t wish any human being to have to go through. All the bad that has happened to me and the misery I witnessed in the lives of others weakened me… temporarily. Enough to sometimes make me wish I were dead, but never, never enough to kill me.

I guess that is why I’d rather not dilly-dally. Have no time for BS.

I hate pleasantries and small talk.

When someone asks: How do you do? OR How are you? I usually feel a strong compulsion to say: Bah, humbug (ala-Scrooge)! What a stupid question..! Do you really wanna know? I feel shitty. Do you wanna hear about my shitty life? Of course not. Just trying to be pleasant, you might say. Sorry, but I am a lost cause. 😦

Yeah, I can be nasty sometimes 🙂 … I can be blunt to the point of no redemption. Well, at least, you will know I consider you my friend when I give you uninhibited responses – my frankness towards certain people is a gauge of my degree of trust. If you find me all pleasant and nice, then you must not know me that well and I don’t trust you that much either. I am myself (real frank me) to those of whom I feel closest.

You can imagine how many fights I had with my mother and how much I teased my brother… made him cry when he was small. My mom used to ask my dad to give me a good spanking sometimes because I was a hardheaded kid. I would fight with anyone… my aunts, my uncles and even my grandma Rosita (we called her Ima)… so the neighborhood kids were nothing to me, hahaha! Once, I had a fight with my boy cousin. They tied us upside down by our ankles on the star apple tree (please, no social workers – I had fun!) because we wouldn’t stop bickering. Well, I didn’t play fair I guess, coz my cousin had boils on his head, I started hitting him there. He was a bit older than me, but I made him cry.

When I was in fourth grade, I got into a hair-pulling episode with a playmate of mine, who, incidentally, was also our neighbor. I wouldn’t call it a fair fight either coz they shaved off all her hair (she had lice) and I had shoulder length tresses. Still, it was good fight. Everyone, including the cheering spectators, was given a good hiding by our otherwise good-natured class advisor. Why? The fight was held on the school grounds, right behind our homeroom. 🙂

I do Pilates to improve my posture. I run, not to be sexy (is that all people obsess about when they exercise?), but for health, strength and stamina – and to have a running chance in the runs I joined and plan on joining. I wear what I want when I want to. I am more comfortable in jeans & running shoes than anything else. I find wearing heels a nuisance (but they do give the butt a nice lift ;-)). I like body bags and backpacks / satchels and find tiny bags unsatisfactory – have you seen those teensy weensy bags women carry around in bars? Oh yeah, that’s just for the compact and the lipstick right? I don’t bat my lashes, except when I’m around my guy – and I end up looking gay as a consequence. And I will NEVER… like NEVER… will ever shave my legs or get myself waxed (not even when I can afford it… :-)). I don’t mind being the joker or the butt of jokes (I can always turn the tables around – can’t do without wit!). And the possibility of falling flat on my face anytime, anywhere is always a challenge, not a possible failure. I will bawl, I will cry, for a moment – I’d feel like dying, when I get dumped or even when I do the dumping… oh well, let the Phoenix rise from the ashes. Forever the optimist.

Oh, but don’t get me wrong… I love the male kind of the species. I appreciate what they have done – what great philosophers, builders, politicians, scientists, artists, businessmen, soldiers, gentlemen they are and what they can still accomplish for humankind. I also like it when a man offers to carry my bags for me and opens doors. Nice to have a guy who would help me take my coat off and pull a chair for me… sigh. Chivalry. Good times 😉 — well, partly… don’t like to be the damsel in distress though. Even when I am neck deep in shit, I wouldn’t admit it to my guy… not if I can help it.

A strong woman is a real woman. If man still lives in caves like the troglodytes we were about 2.5 million years ago,  he has to have a woman with the wit and the strength to defend hearth & home from invaders while he is out hunting for food. Alas! Some men would prefer a pretty face above all else… while some of us do resort to using our feminine wiles to have our way. Play the coquette and manipulate.

I cannot play such games and I cannot tolerate a man who plays the same way.

And men, do you know that the gene for intelligence is passed on from mother to offspring? Think of your future mate and your children. Choose wisely. 🙂

How glad and fortunate I am then, for my mother was of the strong and intelligent kind… for surely, if not for her, I would not be “I”.

I do not belittle women viewed as average. Like Forrest Gump’s mom said: Stupid is, stupid does… hehehe. There IS education to help challenge our minds and develop our abilities.

How sad it is then, for the countless number of women who, by stroke of misfortune (realistically, because of social stratification), find it hard to get out of the mire of poverty – simply because of decreased life chances.

It is up to you and me then, to help them out and give them a fighting chance.

Yes, I am the anti-woman – more accurately, the anti-feminine Marxist feminist woman.

Not your cup of tea.

It’s okay, you’re not mine either.

© Lovely Claire Dangalan, 2011

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