The title of this post comes from a protest banner I saw at my first anti-imperialism rally. It was in the late 1980s, I was in my first year of college in Manila. I had already began thinking about feminism and social activism, but what these concepts meant exactly were not yet fully worked out in my mind (hey, I was sixteen).
But these words by women’s rights advocate and Gabriela organizer Fe Arriola provided my starting point:
Women do not form an isolated category that can be placed apart from society as a whole. Women are distributed across the class spectrum, and it is this, their different class positions, rather than their shared sex that finally determines their basic and varied political allegiances. Thus, there can be no single women’s movement in the Philippines united solely on the basis of gender, to the negation of class. The women’s movement must first take up the needs of the most oppressed and exploited among us. Thus the struggle for the freedom of all women in inseparable from the struggle of the working classes and from global struggles of peoples the world over fighting racism and imperialism. (p. 311, The Philippines Reader: A History of Colonialism, Neocolonialism, Dictatorship, and Resistance, Daniel B. Schirmer and Stephen R. Shalom, eds.)
Since then, my own feminist analysis has expanded, to include issues such as race and ethnicity. But since my research interests center on gender and globalization in Southeast Asia, the socioeconomic class analysis remains central. I can certainly see how a race-based analysis would be likewise central for many social activists in a country such as the US.
The IMF and WTO. Mining in indigenous lands in the Cordilleras. The growing militarization of Muslim communities in the southern Philippines. All these struggles are interrelated. And I am forever grateful to the brave Filipinas who continue to take their place in these struggles.