Wednesday, October 24, 2018

You don't need ovaries to be a feminist

Last weekend, the book club gathered for its monthly discussion on two books, which tackle the very relevant issue of feminism. First, we talked about Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's essay titled "We Should All Be Feminists," and then followed by the Filipino translation of Liv Strömquist's nonfiction Fruit of Knowledge, which was brilliant translated by Beverly Siy and given the Filipino title Puki Usap. I love both books and found them engaging.

Deep into the discussion
I love Chimamanda. Her novel Americanah is one of my favorite novels in recent years. The essay "We Should All Be Feminists" is written in the same accessible style as her novels. You don't need a dictionary to be able to fully appreciate what she's saying. Her writing speaks to you directly, and this essay speaks from the heart. I agree with her 100% that we should ALL be feminists. If you believe in equal rights for all, then you're a feminist. If you acknowledge the history that led us to this unbalanced treatment of the sexes, then you're a feminist. If you respect women and transgendered women, then yes, you're a feminist. Chimamanda makes it clear that anti-feminism is so ingrained in our culture that we most often don't pay attention to these instances. It's about time we shake things up, no?

I'm not at all familiar with Strömquist's works. So after reading her nonfiction work (which was in comic/graphic format) that tackles the vagina and how it was unfairly treated and represented throughout history. Why should be we feel iffy talking about the vagina? One-half of the world's population have one. And also, what's the deal with not discussing the clitoris and the female orgasm? Goodness, how prudish some people could be! I say let's all bring these issues on the table! Let's throw away our shame and guilt when we talk about those parts of the female anatomy.

I fell for Strömquist's voice on her subject matter. It's both angry and snarky at the same time. And Beverly Siy's style in the translation complements the tone of the book. I imagine that translating this controversial work is challenging, but Siy made it look effortless. I laughed at the use of everyday Filipino phrases and words injected into the work. I think I just found the perfect Christmas gift for many of my friends. They will be shocked, for sure, but they will be smarter for it.

The two books we talked about during the discussion
I mentioned during the discussion that the reason I fell hard for these two books is that they start conversations on feminism and other issues such as gender vs. sexuality and diversity. People need to raise questions about things that confuse them. And if we don't talk about these things, then how else can we acknowledge our differences and have respect for the people around us. How can we even begin to agree with one another if we don't even understand what the other party is going through? How can we effect change to make sure that everyone is treated fairly? What can we do to ensure that future generations wouldn't live with fear, discrimination, and shame, like so many do now?

As usual, I don't have answers. But I have loads of questions. #StoryOfMyLife

Requisite group shot
Oh, I don't think I've told you yet that I've started doing yoga. Today marks the 3rd week I've been attending yoga classes in the morning every day at 6.45 am. I still have a long way to go to get to the stability and strength that I want. I know because I'm quite shaky in some of the poses that are held for a long time, and I sometimes fall during one-leg poses. My yoga teachers are my inspiration. They look so fit (even though they aren't muscular) with bright faces that don't seem to need any product.

I'm not doing this for weight loss or to become toned. Well, losing a few more pounds of fat wouldn't hurt. But my main motivation for doing yoga is that I don't want to turn into those people who can't seem to do a lot of things because of their age. I want to climb stairs without being breathless. I wanna reach my toes comfortably while I keep my knees straight. I want to be able to hold my head down without getting dizzy. I wish to remain flexible when I reach my 50s. And I think yoga can help me with these.

I love the feeling every time a yoga class ends. It's as if all my joints are loosened and I feel a certain lightness in my step. Also, I get that pinkish glow after a good workout. "Workout? But aren't you doing yoga?" you might ask. Yes, I never thought that yoga can give someone a good sweat (I sweat buckets in the hot core class), a satisfying cardio session, and loads of exercises that build endurance.

The bf and I I attended a yoga session just before the discussion.
We were actually invited by Anne to join her class as part of her practicum,
as she's been training really hard to become a certified yoga teacher.
With Anne, after her kick-ass beginner yoga class