“The Last Jedi” Does Not Need Another Rave Review

(+++ warning, if you are sensitive to swear words please do not read this)

So I will not make one. But my article today will use Rian Johnson‘s baby as a starting-off point to talk about sexual harassment, creative/artistic efforts and James Damore.

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Picture from Wikipedia

Looking at Mr. Johnson’s facial hair and the fact that according to Wikipedia, he is presently in a relationship with a woman, it is safe to say that he is a heterosexual white male.

Heterosexual white males have traditionally been privileged creatures in Planet Earth. Yes, they still have their own pecking orders as in:  Jewish heterosexual white males are picked upon by  Italian heterosexual white males, who are picked upon by the Irish who are picked upon by the British who are picked upon by the Nords (??) — ad infinitum.

The point is, in the Grand Scheme of things, these guys should think twice first before claiming to be a discriminated minority — BECAUSE THEY ARE NOT. Another point is, I have just had enough of their whinings which they can express in pseudo-reasonable or creative ways.

Then Mr. Johnson came along and created “The Last Jedi” — and it restored my faith in male humanity. To anybody who has not watched that movie, in a nutshell, the takeaway message of TLJ is: “guys, for fucking Christ’s sake, listen to women.”

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Because if you do not listen to us, one day you may just wake up and learn that once upon a time you were a rapist.

Yes darlings, when a woman says NO, it DOES NOT mean yes; and no: yes does not mean anal. If you have chosen to believe otherwise, then you are an asshole.

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Women have been sidelined or worse, harassed in the workplace long before Mira Sorvino agreed to tell her all to Ronan Farrow (Ronan, Mia Farrow’s son, who may or may not have been Woody Allen biological child — yes, Life is Ironic).

I was watching Ms. Sorvino’s performance in “Mighty Aphrodite” just now; and she is wonderful. She carried the movie, despite Woody Allen’s clueless-ness (Allen, by the way, was the one who inspired Rian Johnson to become a film-maker, after watching “Annie Hall”).

A very sad thing that Allen was able to thrive despite his crimes. But as Oprah said in the Golden Globes Awards this year … a new day has come girls!

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Despite Oprah’s speech, I am still pessimistic. It will be an uphill climb for human beings with XX chromosomes to achieve the same respect as human beings with XY chromosomes.

And that is mainly because women will never (or rarely ever, at the very least) kill their sons.

If women are as cutthroat and efficient  (and I say “efficient” in a disparaging way) as men, then misogynists like James Damore will not live long enough to write his fucking memo.

Yes, James, you are a misogynist. And do not give me that “I make reasonable, evidence-based, rational arguments” crap. You do not.

As Cynthia Lee has pointed out — your memo is nonsense.

If you had the reason that god gave a petunia, the first thing you will do is to have a uterus transplant on yourself, carry a baby the full 9 months, breastfeed that baby, raise it up to be a decent human being — without killing yourself in the process.

Then you will have a right to write your memo. Because, James, darling, men like you is the reason why I do not want to become a mother.

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On a positive note (yes there is one as I refuse to end my piece like Nietzsche), all this ranting has made me realize that I do not want to be a male, and thank God she made me a woman.

Who am I kidding? God definitely is not a woman. It would be a different world if god is a she. But then, if alternate universes are possible, maybe in one of those — God is a SHE.        Image from: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-3108477/If-God-woman-Church-feminists-say-God-wittiest-wisest-writers-imagine-world-higher-female-power-helm.html

 

 

 

 

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A Failure of Imagination

This Patrick Henry guy must have been a real macho. I don’t care much about his looks (Alexander Hamilton is more my type);  but his resume would give a girl pause.

Patrick Henry — lawyer, politician, orator, planter, slaveholder, a typical 18th century macho, who had the gall to say these words: “It is in vain, sir, to extenuate the matter. Gentlemen may cry, Peace, Peace but there is no peace. The war is actually begun! The next gale that sweeps from the north will bring to our ears the clash of resounding arms! Our brethren are already in the field! Why stand we here idle? What is it that gentlemen wish? What would they have? Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death.” I am rolling my eyes.

Girls, FYI, Patrick was that guy in the American Revolution who said these famous words: “Give me liberty or give me death.”

Yep, I know … he is the typical guy who thinks the world is only composed of apples and oranges.

I mean, really … there are worse things than death (being tortured out of your mind; a 36-hour labor that results in intrauterine fetal death and genital fistula; seeing everyone you love die before your eyes like what is happening to a lot of Rohingyas, etc etc) … and things that can be preferable to freedom depending on one’s circumstances (i.e if I am on the verge of starving I would probably be willing to go to jail where the meals are assured anytime).

The problem with guys and their  and/or view of the world is a failure of imagination.

But hey, we can’t blame them so much, right girls? It is a very rare male who will ever experience what it feels like to be the minority, the second sex, the one who will be harassed by Harvey Weinstein. For them, freedom is something to fight for above anything …

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Women are the ones who have been trained over and over on how to crouch and wait and endure that which are unendurable. We were trained by our mothers — those women who preferred their sons over their daughters because, what is the point of favoring the daughter who will just eventually turn out a slave? (Our mothers did have a point you know.)

 

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Women can imagine … and we do it a lot.

This is the reason why we are sooo hopeful — because we can imagine alternate realities to our destitute situations.

This is the reason why we fall for bad boys … because we can imagine how he can be a better man (As if! Men NEVER change, not if they can get away with being assholes, what would be the point of changing? … if girls can get the fact of men’s unwillingness to reinvent themselves through our frontal lobes, we would be so much better).

This is the reason why the world has not dissolved into the self-destruction of mass suicides — the fact is  the Universe will end someday, so if women are anything like Woody Allen, neurotic pessimist that he was, then we would all shoot ourselves or fling out bodies into the nearest cliffs by now.

But we don’t do that. Because we are women.

Go figure.

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References

Give me liberty, or give me death!

http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/958077/filipinos-of-the-year-2017-pinoy-ako-blog-and-other-voices-vs-fake-news

http://nymag.com/scienceofus/2017/05/it-is-really-important-to-humanize-evil.html?mid=fb-share-scienceofus

https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2017/06/lolas-story/524490/

Orphans

Image from pinterest

I am ambivalent about the morality of assisted reproductive technology (ART). That may be a reason why, despite being a fascinating scientific area of study, I chose not to go into Reproductive Endocrinology. More’s the pity as there are less than 200 board-certified reproductive endocrinologists in the Philippines, a nation of 120 million.

This article is not about doctor-shortage (although it is tempting to make it about that as I have a lot of rant on that topic as well), but rather this is my ruminations about parenting.

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Image from pinterest

The best and worst thing about having a progeny is being confronted with one’s mortality. It need not be a biological progeny: one can have a Grand Life Project — like maybe, “Giving Women the Right to Vote” (Alice Paul), or  “Ensuring Philippine Freedom From Colonial Spain” (Jose Rizal), or “Ending Marcos Tyranny” (Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino) etc etc.

If the point of living is to prepare us for dying then what better way to spend that prep time than to strive for something we are really passionate about. Life is to foreplay what orgasm is to dying.

Progenies remind us of death because they are what come after us — the orphans we leave behind.

It would be a wonderful universe if we leave our orphans with a situation that is better than what we had. Unfortunately, more often than not, the Universe  is cruel and uncaring. Our orphans are left destitute and scrounging for a place (any place) to exist. How many orphans have perished at the demise of their parents, I wonder?

We are puppies, kittens, cubs, nestlings, fingerlings, tadpoles, caterpillars — left behind by mothers and fathers who did not survive our births.

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Image from Pinterest

Of course, it is a self-defeating attitude to resent a parent for not being strong enough to live. One is never ever ready to face a parent’s death. And a parent will never be able to protect its kid forever. That is Reality, sad but true.

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Image from Pinterest

I was walking along a foreign road this morning, tears streaking down my face, remembering my mother. I would give an arm (the left one as I am right handed) to see her again.

Before she died I asked her plaintively what am I going to do when I have a kid of my own and she is not there. She said that I have my aunts to help me through that.

Well Mommy, that is an unsatisfying answer, I have expected something more Buddha-esque from you. To give you credit though, you have gone through more pain in your life than I can even imagine, so maybe I should cut you some slack for not being more philosophical.

While we are at it Mommy, let me remind you that being a doctor was never the greatest dream of my life. I can save a thousand bodies from dying an untimely death, but that will not satisfy my soul as much as making up stories can. Yes, I would rather be a professional liar than a professional healer. How’s that for a life goal, mother?

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Were you a good parent or a bad one?

(I would think that I have a right to judge you as I am your progeny. And since you are dead, eviscerating you in print won’t matter very much.)

Image from Pinterest

What makes a “good parent” versus a “bad parent”?

Should parenting subsume one’s life at the expense of everything else, the way women have done for centuries?

Why are biological progenies supposedly more acceptable than non-biological ones?

The world is overpopulated with humans so what is the point of having more of us?

Image from Pinterest

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Mommy I don’t want to sound nihilistic (although I know I am), but maybe your biggest mistake was having me?

I keep thinking that if I did not come along, you would have lived longer; the same way your older sister (the one who went to another country and shares my name) is now living her life to the fullest.

What was the point of having me Mommy?

Seriously … I cannot understand. That is my problem.

Image from Pinterest

The Definition of Consent in “Consensual Sex”

 

I am not a guy … and will never be one. (Whether that is a good thing or a bad thing will be for history to decide.)

I do have friends who are males; and my bestfriend in the whole world possesses an X and a Y chromosome. Most of what I know about maleness, I learned from him, so if my ideas are wrong, he is probably to blame 🙂

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This morning, I got to thinking about hazing in fraternities and the morbidities and mortalities that arise of such practice.

Full disclosure: my bestfriend (the one who has the XY chromosome) went through such a practice himself and survived. So, that is my bias.

The thing is:

  1. There is a term called “informed consent.” And while the concept has been originally applied to medical procedures that will be done on a patient, the idea as a metaphor can apply in this case.
  2. People who enter fraternities are assumed to be adults (fraternities are banned in high schools and people below 18 are not allowed to join by the college).
  3. Adults are presumed to know what they want.
  4. It is not a big secret that initiation rites that may/may not involve hazing happen in fraternities. Like, hello, I may have been a naive ignorant virgin at 22 but even I knew that when my then boyfriend said he was paddled, it didn’t mean that they went kayaking.
  5. The adult neophyte was not bullied into joining, not coerced, not forced in any way — at least ideally that should be the case. Systemic factors may come into consideration like, some fields (dare I say Law School?) may have the reputation among undergrads that say “success in later career will be determined by being a Greek or non-Greek”, hence the pressure. But still, hey you are an adult, and a law student at that, and you caved in to peer pressure and allowed yourself to be humiliated and physically molested when you didn’t want to? What kind of lawyer will you turn out to be? I mean, just saying.
  6. This is where my data is hazy: the neophyte, can say “no” at anytime during the hazing process.

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Now if you are wondering, why I kept blabbing about hazing when the title of my article is about consensual sex. Then read this:

Judge accused of ‘victim blaming’ for saying women risk rape by getting drunk

I have never seen, for the life of me, an argument in a hazing case that goes like this: “Neophyte was asking to die by getting into an organization that he knows involves an initiation rite where other guys will paddle him to death.”

Seriously.

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In conclusion: the correct question during a trial investigating hazing where a victim died is “did, at any point in time, he say no?”

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The OFW Life

Dear Auntie J,

Yes now I understand.

Now I get it, the things you had to go through, which my mother (your sister) thought so little of:

Image from plantingrice.com

Image from plantingrice.com… the confusion, the feeling of being lost in a sea of strangers …

… the confusion, the feeling of being lost in a sea of strangers …

Image: screengrab from youtube.com

… the language barriers, a wall so vast and deep because it is not only about words but more about history, culture and  things left unsaid …

al hajar mountains

… adjusting to a different climate whether too hot or too cold, looking  for your Goldilocks-zone and never quite finding it …

Image from gmanetwork.com

Image from gmanetwork.com

… having plenty of material stuff but not having enough, because “enough” meant having someone you love share all that plenty-ness with; unfortunately the ones you love are oceans of miles away …

… worrying and wondering about a distant land you left behind and dealing with the constant question “Did I  do the right thing?”  Leaving was a matter of survival, but still you have your doubts …

…. the feeling that your life is on hold. Because you are neither here nor there. You are not a tourist, but you are not a “resident” either.

Image from pinoyrepublic.info

Image from pinoyrepublic.info

I get it now. I get the allure of wanting to acquire citizenship in a foreign country to get a sense of belonging. Because eventually you feel that your own will not welcome you with open arms. Or the open arms are a sham, was only extended to demand something from you.

I get it now. Why you felt I was wasting my life back home. You see: I still think of it as home. I wonder, after all these years, how you think of it.

Image from minibalita.com

Image from minibalita.com

I get it now. The balikbayan boxes, the infrequent calls,  the seemingly superficial mails (because it really is hard to put into words this feeling of displacement, of  having betrayed something or having been let down, of not knowing who to talk to or how to talk about the deepest fears of your heart, of crying and feeling stupid because, hey, you have all this money, so why the tears?)

I get it now. And I am wondering whether to feel happy for us. Or sorry.

It is masochism, I know … but loving something frequently is.

And I know I love the land of my birth. Leaving was a pain. The pain was (is) palpable, and mostly felt in the wee silences of the morning or before sleeping when the routines of work are over.

Image from thefilipino.com

Image from thefilipino.com

It effing hurts to have left.

But I know … it would have hurt so much more to have stayed.

Queueing

I hate dealing with government agencies in this – my – country. The insensible queuing, the bureaucratic BS, the leech-minded mediocrity that makes up the majority of the staff of  most public offices. Efficiency is an unknown term where I come from; we seem to invent a thousand and one ways to make things constantly difficult for ourselves.

I was in the middle of another serpentine queue one fine day when I saw Helen. Apparently, she was married now, to a man she met in rehab; a politician’s son with his own political aspirations; and Helen was in the agency waiting for her husband who is in a higher-management meeting at “the top floor”.

She motioned  me to follow her with my papers and we went to an office where she introduced me to Willie, a balding young gentleman in a t-shirt printed with the face of Helen’s husband.  After small talk about his family, his work in the agency (Oh he has no plantilla even after 5 years of contractual work? That will not do! Helen will definitely inform Bong about this.), the project that Helen’s husband’s pork barrel has started.  After all that, she sweetly asked Willie if he could please facilitate my papers and we will just be in the canteen and that I am such an old friend she hasn’t seen in a long time. He can come to us when my documents are finished. Willie answers ok madam; and he was smiling but he looked tired.

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When I first met Helen, I have never thought that she will be the wife of anybody, much less a politician. I was under the impression that she would die before reaching thirty-five in a motel room amidst ecstacy tablets and shabu paraphernalia strewn all around; a very six-o’clock- news way to go. She was very pretty even when she was an addict, pale-skinned, small build, east Asian eyes, pearly white and even teeth – she could have been a soap opera star from South Korea. She was smaller than me and exuded a very effective damsel-in-distress aura that even I who was – well – a girl, would have wanted to turn butch and kill dragons for her.

Oh, and she was Jonas’s ex-girlfriend.

Seriously! I don’t know how Jonas managed to find  these girls. (And what kind of fate makes me bump into them without meaning to, or even wanting to).  There’s  Gaia — knocked up at 17 and now married to a half-Brazilian half-American venture capitalist. When Jonas and I saw her in Washington DC, she looked like Kim Kardashian; spangly earrings,  tight halter top, tanned all over. She talked to me in Tagalog with an American slang and  told me that her great dream is to return to the Philippines and put up a home for teen mothers.

And now,  Helen.

Looking back, I realize that I liked Helen when I first met her, a decade or so ago. I went with Jonas to the basement of a very expensive hospital in Makati where they  kept the psychiatric ward. Helen had just gone through  a tweaking stage. When I first saw her, she was very calm, sweet and heavily sedated.

Jonas was Helen’s “Person In Case of Emergency” which was very puzzling to me since they had broken up years ago. That time, I didn’t know him very well yet. Jonas is the kind of boyfriend, the rare kind of man, that manages to be real friends with ex-girlfriends.

(I spent 3 months of internship  in that hospital and I was friends with the Training Director of the Substance Abuse division, Dr. Risa Mendoza. Risa gave me a funny smile when I introduced her to Jonas, those long years ago. She was giggling when she told me that she was under the impression that I would die an old maid. But then, she said with a wink,  miracles have happened.)

What I liked about Helen was that she was a very good liar. A charming babble-mouth. A very good storyteller. I could tell immediately that she was even a better liar than I am. I had to respect that. Or … the person I was had to.

They discharged her from the hospital and she went directly to a rehabilitation facility south of Manila, where the air was cool, traffic was rare and where Helen met her future husband.

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Now here she is (ten years hence) bubbly, sprightly, and seemed  very pleased to have seen me. We are friends on Facebook, but I rarely make status updates so she thought I was still in Connecticut.

“I got back 2 years ago,” I told her. “No more visa, dissertation finished.”

“I have always thought you will settle in America. You are just too disciplined, too smart and bright to you know, stay here.”

“You and your husband stayed here,” I reminded her, bemused at her reaction.

“Yes, but Bong and his family are in politics.” She nodded and did not expound, as if that was explanation enough. “I invited you and Jonas to my wedding,” she said reproachfully. “Neither of you came.”

“I am sorry,” I tried to sound contrite. “I don’t know about Jonas but at that time, I couldn’t get away from the university.”

“Alice, I really feel bad about what happened to Jonas.”

“Yes, well that makes the two of us.”

“What kind of world is it  that horrible things can happen to such good people?” she exclaims.

“A totally crappy world?” I said.

It is a crappy world alright. It is a world where an ordinary citizen like me has to get into a 3-hour-long queue in a government agency just for one fucking crappy piece of paper. It is a world where politicians like Bong and other pretentiously “respectable” goons in the echelons of power lord it over meek/apathetic/frustrated (take your poison) citizens who have long been used to this  feeling of learned helplessness. It is a world where a person I love — a do-gooder tree-hugger of the highest order, who only wanted the best for this country that I couldn’t care less about – now has a PTSD so profound that even I, a psychologist by training, can’t get through to him.

I live in a fucking crazy country … which now (goodbye America) constitutes the sum total of my totally crappy world.

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I stare at  Helen. Once upon a time I really liked her.

Now I say: “Fuck you, Helen.  Fuck you and Bong and all fucking Filipinos like you. And fuck me because I need your help and I don’t want to spend another hour in a queue and I need this fucking paper.”

Helen gave a screech, shocked that I can muster so many f-words in one statement.

That very second, Willie (bless his soul, government bureaucrat that he is), came with my precious paper, a government-issued certificate.

I mumbled a half-embarrassed, half-insincere apology to Helen. And without waiting for her reply, I left.

I know (just like I know that Jonas will still shut me out tomorrow) that Helen will unfriend me on Facebook and that I will probably never see her (nor benefit from her connections) again.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To My Future Self: Seeking Career Advice

(or if you are still clueless 10 years from now, can you just tell me if I made it past forty without dying?)

 

Image from connecticutcatholiccorner.blogspot.com

Image from connecticutcatholiccorner.blogspot.com

 

The past 4 years, I have been working in a public health institution in a Local Government Unit for the following reasons:

1. To augment income from private practice which, until now, is still going nowhere,

2. Sense of obligation to the country whose taxpayers subsidized my education (ha ha),

3.To honor the memory of my mother who gave birth to me in same city where I am currently working (classic example of crass sentimentality and hubris in action),

4. Steady source of income, albeit small (this is almost the same as reason number 1) and

5. I like the people I work with in the facility where I was assigned.

Now I am being offered a job in a foreign country where the salary is 5 times the one I am receiving now.
Should I or should I not go? That is the question.
I do not feel particularly loyal to the institution that currently employs me. There is a culture of mediocrity here that is, I am beginning to realize, the rule in most government facilities.  The problem is I am being sucked into that culture and, let’s face it, it is so much more easier to give in than to fight. My nightmare is that I will be waking up 10 years from now; less a professional and more a cog in the Philippine government bureaucracy — where a lot of things are more wrong than right; but we have to put up with it because it is better than nothing and we do not have the energy, the power or the right connections to make the changes that we want.
I am only Me. And I am lured by monetary compensation much like the next person. My private practice is floundering because I don’t have business sense and I am not motivated to do “customer service”. I know that. Why should I do more when I believe the rewards (the “real ones” anyway) are so much less than what I (or we: meaning, me and my clients) think I deserve?
And also, my present situation leaves me uninspired. Some notion comes into me to upgrade my skills, get another degree, add more words and letters to my resume; and I find myself asking: what for?
I see this offer to work in another country as an adventure,  a change of scenery, or even (with all the terrorist threats looming in that region) maybe a death wish?
Am I too old for all that? Should I settle down now and direct considerable energies, financial resources and emotion to having an offspring perhaps? (another death-wish in another form)
But … but … but …. Offsprings are so overrated! — the bitchy, scrooge-y part of me would say.
So, to my forty-ish-year-old-self-ten-years-from-now: what do you think?