cafe public intellectual

Home » Uncategorized » Featured Post: Regina Calzado of GENDERS A55 on Insiang and Filipino Feminism

Featured Post: Regina Calzado of GENDERS A55 on Insiang and Filipino Feminism


Excellent work!

Journal Entry #2

“Feminism is the radical notion that women are people too.”

– Cheris Kramarae and Paula Treichler


            Women, Filipinas in particular, experience oppression in their everyday lives. It may not be noticeable to some, but Filipinas are bound by a gender trap that is formed by today’s society. According to Goldberg, all of us are still bound by the “psychological undertow of traditional sexual conditioning.”[1] The traditional notion of what a woman should exude—submissiveness, sweetness, and naivety, to name a few—is a compartmentalization of the human psyche and is not “natural.” Apparently, there still seems to be a lingering problem on freeing our own sexual inhibitions.

            In the movie Insiang, Insiang was portrayed to be a very obedient and helpful daughter. It was expected of her to go out of her way in order to satisfy the whims of her mother. She was neither promiscuous nor flirty. She was the epitome of a traditional Filipina woman. However, her disposition took a complete U-turn after she was raped by her mother’s boyfriend. That mindset of being a daughter who was so sweet and caring suddenly changed. She became a different person altogether. She sought for revenge, not only to the man who assaulted her, but also to her boyfriend who left her hanging after he got what he wanted from her, which was sex, and also her mother whom she deemed was the cause of her sufferings.

This kind of change in Insiang is just one of the many examples of effects to women who were oppressed in one way or another. The article “I am Angry…” discusses how this expression of anger, or any strong expression for that matter, is a sign of the ability to grasp reality. The reality that is neither beautiful nor carefree. It is through this sense of anger that Insiang recognized her incapability as a woman living in the slums with no one to turn to but herself. Moreover, this change brought about a sense of revenge for Insiang and a certain conviction to become even stronger. There is still another way, however, that Insiang might have taken in order to become aware of the fact that she is not everything a man is not.

The article further explains that this kind of realization involves 3 steps, namely: invitationremembering, and recollection. Insiang, through invitation, could have searched for a support group to be her shoulder to lean on to help her get through the times wherein she just wants to give up or just when she needs a confidant or someone to open up to. In this way, she would have been able to lift some of the weight of her heavy heart due to the assault and maltreatment that have happened to her. Then, in the second stage of remembering, Insiang could have embraced the misfortune that happened to her and not use it as a cause for revenge. She could have deeply studied the way her body was forced into something unwanted and from there use that understanding to know her needs. It in this stage that Insiang would have learned from the abuse that happened to her, which eventually leads to the third step: recollection. Through the pain that accompanies the prior stage, Insiang could have learned how to use that pain into learning how to draw power from it. Remembering the pain and not denying it all entails a lot of strength which ultimately leads to acceptance. This in turn could have made Insiang not too drawn into deep sadness because of the abuse that happened to her, but instead took that it as an opportunity to grow as a person. A change that does not entail deceiving her abuser into almost killing by beating her boyfriend, or beguiling her mother into stabbing her abuser to death which led to her mother spending the rest of her life in jail. She could have used the experience of abuse to uplift the spirits of other women who have experienced the same thing, therefore creating more good than bad. Moreover, she could have used that experience to teach women how prevent it from ever happening to them.    

But, what can also account for this change? How does poverty affect the lives of women? Poverty is one of the factors of the gender trap hounding Filipino society. According to Amnesty International, marginalized women are discriminated because they are poor. They do not have the same benefits like men do – they are paid less in work, have less access to justice, protection, and resources such as land, credit, and inheritance rights – even if they are the breadwinners of their families.[2]A case in point is the case study in the article “I am Angry…,” wherein the woman in Tondo, even if she was the breadwinner of the family since her husband was laid-off from work, was still suffering from all the hardships of thinking where and how to get money to be able to feed their children. She was not accountable for any benefits when her house burned down due to a fire. She and her entire family were then forced out. In addition, violence is both a cause and consequence of poverty for women.[3] They are forced into situations wherein they need to make difficult situations, which put them into a vulnerable state and open to chances of violence. The previously mentioned woman, before meeting her husband, was forced to move to the city from the province because of financial matters. This led to her being harassed by her boss in the house that she was working in as maid. And despite her efforts to seek justice, she was just thrown out of the house and was not duly compensated. This situation is an example in which poverty is linked to violence and is a reason why women are not able to freely make choices of their own and take a hold of their own lives.

      Nevertheless, there is still a way forward. Successes in different divisions have been apparent in the Philippines nowadays. According to Geneva Global Aid, Filipina women are breaking cycles of poverty. Filipinas are now able to qualify and avail for larger loans and repay them entirely through the Center for Community Transformation.[4] Furthermore, non-governmental organizations in the Philippines that protect the rights of women, build up necessary political will relating to different concerns, and spread awareness regarding feminism are growing in number. These in turn show that feminism engenders innovations and creativity that is productive not only for the Filipinas but also to the Filipinos as well. It opens the mind of people who are not the keen to accepting the independence and strengths of a Filipina, void of any traditional notion or compartmentalization.

[1] Herb Goldberg, “The Gender Trap,” Context Institute, Summer 1985, pageNr., (accessed February 24, 2013).

[2] Amnesty International, “Women, Violence and Poverty – Breaking Out of the Gender Trap,” Amnesty International Annual Report 2011, 25 November 2009, pageNr., (accessed February 24, 2013).

[3] Ibid.

[4] Geneva Global Inc., “Filipino Women Break Cycles of Poverty,” Geneva Global Inc. Reports, 2005, pageNr., (accessed February 24, 2013)


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: