Thursday, August 24, 2006

Kiwi's Response

Kiwi (member of Native Guns who appeared in the video) responds:



Let me say first of all that I completely agree with the letter. Filipina/o pride aside, I don't think anyone can justify the way Filipina women (and women in general) were represented in those videos. Sadly, I anticipate many folks responding with "you're making a big deal out of it" or even going as far as attacking the folks who wrote the letter. But the fact is, we still live in a sexist society, and Pinays are still the ones most impacted when we talk about struggle and injustice in the Filipino community here, in the Philippines, and worldwide. So, I really don't feel that we have the luxury to poke fun at or depict Filipina women in a way that perpetuates this oppression. Instead, we have a responsibility to create spaces, in even the most minimal instances, where women can be empowered and recognized as the leaders and contributors they truly are.

So why was I in the “Bebot” video? Well, it was a personal invite by a good friend involved with the video, and the same company is also working on a video for Native Guns (for FREE), so I appreciated the gesture and felt obligated to go. In their defense, from my understanding (don't quote me on this) Xylophone originally turned down the offer to do the video, and finally negotiated a deal where they were able to mellow down (yes, mellow down) the hoochie-ness, as well as do a second version (“Generation One”) that had more of a community awareness/historical concept (Little Manila/Stockton). My general observation is that Xylophone has, on a few occasions, demonstrated an effort to do videos & films that reflect community issues as accurately as possible. That said, gender awareness and women's empowerment is still something that seriously needs to be taken into consideration and addressed in creation of these projects.

On a larger level, I feel that there (still) needs to be questions raised to the entire Filipino community about gender issues and patriarchy. Filipino culture, at least from my perspective, is patriarchal on all levels, so what has our progress been with that? What else are we doing, beyond just reacting to high-profile stuff, to continually raise awareness about and really challenge the gender issues that occur within our community on a daily basis? Within social justice and “activist” organizations even? What are we doing within our own circles, amongst friends and family, to end sexism and male supremacy?

I would like to hope that I am doing as much as possible to challenge patriarchy through my music, my political work, and my personal interactions with folks. I also want to acknowledge organizations such as babae and Gabriela Network for being at the forefront of the fight for Filipina women's rights. I really feel they have been laying the groundwork for us to be even having this discussion. I hope that we can continue to have dialogue, but more importantly, begin to create that space for us all to be able to challenge our own thinking and conditioning around gender, and strategize ways for us to be true allies to our sisters in the struggle.

Kiwi (Native Guns)


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