There is nothing like seeing your mom disappointed. Because of you. Specifically, your lack of a boyfriend. At the age of 17. Surely, there must be a god-fearing, decent enough man out there to recognize that you are girl of ripe age, bourgeois upbringing and good education, a man that will one day save you from your single, dumb freedom and provide you your maternal purpose. Surely, you will meet a boy that will gain the approval of your parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles, friends of cousins, cousins and second-cousins, maids, your parents’ Facebook friends, parish priests and your drunk, gossiping neighbors. The man is perfect as long as he’s (1) devoutly Catholic, (2) not black, Indian, Arab, and/or pure-Asian, (3) dripping with masculine charm and homophobic vitriol, (4) rich, (5) not bald, (6) emotionally distant except at the sight of failure, femininity and your future children, (7) well-mannered until provoked, (8) a ladies-man as long as he goes home every night and never goes too far, and most importantly, (9) willing to marry you and plant his seed in you before your biological clock stops ticking. Surely, there are still ‘real men’ out there for you (albeit rare like unicorns) but in the meantime, let’s build your dowry under the disguise of your once-braced teeth, your long, jet-black hair, your not-too-brown exotic skin, your shaved everything, made-up everything, your curves in the right places, your legs crossed in right position, your hymen intact, your skirt in between asking-for-it and prudish, your button nose burrowed in a book everyone reads, your hands holding some flowers or a spatula, your feet in the perfect ballerina turn out, your voice in the right decibel, laughter in the right timbre, your mood always cheery never bitchy (unless you’re on your period, but of course that’s a different matter), your head to the sky but nowhere too far, you in your right place. Beside a man. 

Because no matter how you frame it, your life as a woman is in preparation for something else. Marriage. Children. Everything you do now leads up to that walk down the aisle, to meet the perfect man for your perfect life, because you’re a girl, and you aren’t yours, even your name isn’t yours until someone lends his to you. But don’t think about it now. Don’t look depressed, stop frowning, no one likes a girl that’s angry, a girl who fights. Stay silent, stay the right things, don’t try to argue, pray to God and the ultimate He will offer you the world if you ask for it kindly through His virgin mother. Don’t think about it now. Study hard, but not too much that you won’t be open to meeting boys, be kind to all of them no matter what because you’re a girl and you’re supposed to, let some of them break your heart but never take it seriously, because we’ll send you abroad to meet a white French man who will sweep you off your feet in his chalet in the mountains so you can drink wine and have beautiful children, far more beautiful than the ones your friends will have in the future. Or if you don’t meet one, go back as quickly as possible so you can get a job in a beauty company here, build your resume up and work hard until you meet a nice man here, but make sure to seal the deal before you turn 30, or else you’re in danger of our pity. You can be single but looking, or single but devoted to God, or single but chaste.

Never single and free, don’t say that, don’t even think about that, that’s just sad. Because sweetheart, you’re not free until you meet the man of your dreams. Because that’s all you dream about, right? Meeting the man of your dreams. Study all you want but not if you don’t meet someone. Talk all you want until he starts talking. Travel and search the world to find him. Study to find him. Talk to find him. Work to find him. Pray to find him. Exist to find him. Because that’s all you dream about, right?


on diversity, and feminism

To many people who know me personally, I am a feminist. I am not afraid of the label. I wear it proudly because if there is one thing I am sure about myself, it is this– there is nothing I deem wrong about fighting for gender equality. In a still horrifically patriarchal world, there are more women than men but there is always less room for us– encompassing glass ceilings, burqas and bikinis, MRT cars and Indian buses, etc, etc. I believe in equality; I believe in freedom; I believe in respect. 

I almost got into a fight last Friday. It turns out that even in probably the most liberal school in the country, I can still find misogynists and bigots in abundance. It was an English class, and my professor previously told us to write about a moral code we felt strongly about, so I wrote about rape culture. (I’ll post it if my prof returns it.) So on Friday, she picked two papers to share to the class– one being my feminist piece, and the other the total opposite of mine. We had a discussion about it right after. 

I get it. In a fairly conservative country, my more radical beliefs are considered to be extreme. Fine. But the fact that more than THREE PEOPLE (women and men) said very sexist and harmful things was beyond any of my expectations about my own university. I embrace the diversity in the people but I never realized that there was actually room for sexism in such a forward university. I was more than shocked– I was disgusted even, not only by their opinions but also by their frankness and certainty, as if saying that “women should know their place” was something completely ordinary to say out loud. By the middle of it, I wanted to strangle people. 

I’d rather not share any other comment made then because that would just make my blood boil again. I really just wanted to write about what I felt after arguing with so many misogynists– that the fight is still so alive, so vicious. At this point, I don’t think I can befriend any misogynist. Hearing all that patriarchal bullshit and first generation excuses (fucking larger hypothalamus my ass) made me want to shoot myself in the head, while fueling my motivation to fight stronger. 

This is a pledge to fight against bigotry and misogyny for the rest of my consciousness. Fuck the patriarchy.