Thursday, June 25, 2009

Accrediting Student Orgs Thru GSTs

Our unit is tasked to accredit students' organizations by giving them a three-hour gender sensitivity. We opened the session by a game called "group yourselves according to". So, I let them group themselves based on their age, colleges, religion, regional location and type of family (with two parents or single parent). It was a revelation that most of the students, at that time, come from Luzon area (only two from Mindanao). All of them are Roman Catholics. Only one from the College of Law, some are from Education, Home Economics, Tourism, etc. I asked them what are the "images" (stereotypes) of their college. It was familiar to hear that HE has the 'motherly' image. But with a male student enrolled in HE, I should have asked how he felt. I delved more on the three students with single moms. One of them said, "matiisin ang kababaihan" or women are persevering so they can perform very well as effective moms. From there, I discussed how women have been marginalized citing statistics on violence, work, empowerment.

One question from a fraternity man united the males in the group. He said, "akala ko gender equality ang topic, bakit ang babae lang ang pinakikitang agrabiyado" (I thought this is about gender equality, why is that only women were portrayed as disadvantaged). So, I encouraged him to mention a men's concern which made them at a disadvantaged position. He said women employing domestic househelp (OFWs) only shows women are 'oppressing' other women; not that men oppresses women (to that effect). So I told them that women's disadvantaged position evolved historically. During the olden days, when women live in a communal structure, every child is taken cared of by the whole community, not by individual women. When industrialization sets in, men were displaced from their families and become workers. So, women stayed at home and did housework. Now that women are in demand abroad as DHs, so the men take on the job as 'househusbands'. And I commend these men who chose or perform such role/s. This is the same solution that most wives advocate: for their husbands to share in the housework.

I don't know if I had convinced them of the necessity of advocating for gender equality, but the fact that they freely shared their feelings about their mothers and their views about gender inequality and lastly asking my name, perhaps that would tell a lot about the effectiveness of making them feel what it means to be women in this society...

Sunday, June 14, 2009

'It was a personal matter', according to VC

I was so frustrated that after 19 years of advocating against violence against women (VAW), a high ranking university woman official still view it as 'personal matter' and she cannot do something about it. This was actually the sixth time I referred case/s of wife-battering to her office. Her response was the same. "It was a personal matter and her office cannot do anything about it". Does she know that wife-battering is already a crime? How come she cannot do something about it when in fact six of her men employees are battering their wives? She can employ meta-legal actions to curb those incidents of wife abuse. She can request sessions on RA 9262 and VAW Orientation. She can even talk personally with her men workers on how to treat their wives fairly. That is if she believes in women's rights.

Though the university has more women workers and officials at present, it does not amount to gender-fair treatment of women. Maybe because some women officials themselves do not see that "women outside of the university are worth fighting for". So, physical females as leaders do not amount to progressive environment for women in the communities. They too are short-sighted. They are made limited by their work. Their vision of a gender-fair community is dictated upon by their work. They do not truly envision a society that is violence-free for all women and children.

Perhaps, because the law says that one has to file a court case to be able to have justice, some of them think that because their office is not a legal office, they can easily turn their back/s from the abused women saying "they are not the proper authorities" to mete out justice. How can a woman official turn her back to another woman in need of her help? How can inaction lead to attainment of justice?

I don't know...perhaps, the educational system must also hone golden heart/s among its officials that they can give time to people, especially to women and children, so that in their 'high' station, they can help people attain justice in the here and now...

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Advocating RR and LGBTQIC Among Aeta women

I had a three-day training lately with 30 Aeta women of Zambales. Some of them were not indigenous-looking anymore because there had been intermarriages (some with Bicolanos). (And these 'new' generation looked like 'latinas'!) My session began with me drawing two naked women on the board. Then, there was a remark that the breasts were not of equal size. To the delight and laughter of everybody, one woman named Indon Pusarit (mother of Pusarit) raised her blouse and curiously looked at her breasts if they were really unequal. Yes, the woman was totally uninhibited with her body. Then, I asked them to name the part that they liked most and that which ached most. Another indigenous woman pointed to her vagina as the part she liked most and so the group laughed even louder...But the part which ached most for most of them was their "puson" (near the vaginal area) because of UTI. So, I found out that it was due to 'unsafe' intercourse with their husbands. Another interesting revelation was they have a sambal term for 'clitoris' (the most pleasurable part of our body), they call it "tenden". Another important idea was they have 'divorce'. They can separate from their husbands if they want to even if there is no 'grave' reason (e.g. battering, non-supportive, etc). The only condition is to return the dowry that their husbands paid to their parents which ranged from P50,000 to P100,00 (installment). Aeta women's sexuality proved to be exciting. Though most of them marry early and had more number of children at an early age. Lastly, a gay teenager (who is one of our facilitators and a product of intermarriage) showed me pictures of their Youth Camp. There I saw her "barkadas" of IP gay teenagers. She said she was 'out' to them but not to a bigger group. Last year, they held 'Miss Gay' activity with a twist by depicting issues in the community. But four years ago, their leader boldly said that there are no gays among their tribes. Truly, continuous advocacy really made a difference!

Monday, June 1, 2009

Physical Therapy (PT)

The physical therapist told me that my posture (head tilted to the right and forward) caused the sharp pain at my left scapula. I realized this was the same posture I had every time I listened to a counselee. His diagnosis was not encouraging. He told me to watch my posture and see to it that my head is straightly aligned (not leaning to the left or right). During younger days, one's youthful strength can compensate for "mis-alignment"; but when one is not getting any younger, the muscles tend to solidify every time it is mis-align.

So, he applied the "trigger point therapy" and taught me a set of six-step isometric (contraction) exercises. Trigger point therapy started by checking the alignment of my scapula. He told me to push against the wall while he was grasping my scapula one at a time. He turned it left and right. My scapula proved to be a little inflexible and the muscles surrounding it are hard or tensed. So, I laid down on one side then he put pressure around the scapula, detecting which point/s are tensed or tender. The mid-point of the left scapula proved to be the most painful. He pressed it then released or relaxed the point. This is to allow the blood to fill up that painful portion. He explained and demonstrated through his fist that my muscles are tensed so it can only move a little unlike relaxed muscles which can move very flexibly.

Isometric therapy begins with the head. I will move my head downward with my hands on pressing it until I feel the tensions in my back neck muscles (10 seconds each count for 10 counts). Then, relax by getting to the head straight position. Second exercise is to press my hands on my forehead, with my hands putting pressure on forehead and the latter resisting my hand pressure (1o seconds each count for 10 counts). Then, back to relax position. Third exercise is to press my right hand against my right head (opposing pressure) (10 seconds each count for 10 counts). Back to relax position. Fourth exercise is similar to the third; on the left side. Fifth exercise is to place my hands on the back side of head putting pressure on my head while the latter resists it. Then, back to relax position. The last exercise is to place left side of my body against the wall with my left hand pushing my head to turn towards the right, looking down and feeling the tensions at my back neck muscles (10 seconds each count, 10 counts). Back to relax position. Do the same exercise on the right side of the body (10 seconds each count for 10 counts).

Those set of exercises actually released the tensions I had at the left scapula. Hope I can do it regularly. The therapist reminded me that the upper portion of the body affects the lower portion of the body and vice-versa. This is in reference to my complaint of numbness on my right foot. He hoped that those isometric exercises will ease my right foot numbness if I will religiously conduct those exercises. Though he noted that numbness usually means there's some nerves affected. He also reminded me to stand up and walk after 30 minutes of sitting which I have to be reminded of because a counseling session usually lasts for an hour or two. I realized that the body is somehow affected no matter how I relax it or debrief my self after a day's work.