Growing up near Field(s) Avenue (the sex capital) of the Philippines back in the day has molded my perception of what a woman’s identity is supposed to be. I wrote many poems and memoirs on my experiences growing up there, how I internalized the societal messages and the garbage coming straight from the sex-trade industry, to how I rejected them all to even now — still evolving to a stronger, independent, radically-thinking woman.
Although I was told that using my Body is the way I can get what I want; my body was in turn, my captor. It wasn’t until I found sports, playing basketball and volleyball, that I found strength in my physical being and realized that my mind and body are indeed connected and not separate. I was still bombarded with the messages about my body by external sources — that femininity was powerful, yet dirty at the same time. I don’t know if my sexual preference towards heterosexuality was more an external influence than of my own choosing. Either way, I found myself being heterosexual.
However, the thought of androgyny comes often to my mind. Finding sports and realizing my athleticism during my teens led me to some sort of epiphany that I was an individual. Later that idea evolved to knowing that I had a mind of my own and that I had a voice of my own.
Androgyny, to me, isn’t a sense of choosing to have masculine traits or female traits, or wanting to look like either/ or in a neutral, nondescript sense — but to not have a set cursor under me that defines me as “just” female. With this in mind, I am not rejecting my femininity either.
Being in the Army also solidified this belief of physical capabilities and prowess is a part of me — always has been. I am capable to run, do push ups, dismantle and shoot an M-16, if I was showed how.
Everything that was piped into my psyche at an early age limited me. This connection between my mind and body was tantamount to my growth. I can cultivate my physical strength, athletic skills and intellect without having to hike up my skirt, looking like a sex-drenched profesora or having to wear a red lacy lingerie under my BDUs to prove that I am still a female and not a man. Believe it or not, these images are what you mostly see when you search for pictures of “women in the military” on Google or other search engines.
How many women right now are walking around not realizing this connection? How many women recognize and reject the notion that their bodies are not Walking Pornographic billboards or walking pornographic or erotic internet ads?
Therefore, when I see young girls and women emulating the hyper-sexuality culture that has been blaring in their faces since Nickelodeon and Cartoon Network; yes, ironically, as far-fetched it may seem at first, like the red-light districts of my youth, I hope one day we can break away, as women, from all the false notions. Our bodies are not simple throw-away things as you move on to the next image to size up and lust over, little pawns in the whole de facto male-dominated society.
Can we look at a woman as a whole, not always sizing her body and looks, chopping up her worth into rating her segments that she has no control over — fragments of breasts and buttocks dressed in frills for mere display, or some evolutionary biological theory about how a symmetrical face, flat stomach and big breasts equates to good genes and fertility?
We are capable to move past all that — yes, indeed, let’s EVOLVE.