Some things about gender I’ve been thinking about what I want to write next

“History of Philippine Medicine” by Carlos “Botong” Francisco

Gender is hard. Expectations — from everyone — are shitty.

You can’t be independent; you can’t make your own decisions. You can’t be ambitious. You can’t excel at anything but being accommodating, at placing everyone before you. You have to do everything everyone else asks you to do. You have to do this with a smile on your face. You can never say what you mean, what you really think. When someone fucks you over, you are supposed to forgive, and you are supposed to smile. You can’t have boundaries, especially the non-negotiable kind.

Of course, these are things I have been writing about forever. But what I’m thinking most about now is this: I have never really wanted to mother. And yet, this is all everyone expects from me. Even when folks who think they are progressive say things about how they respect a woman’s right to choose, to be what she wants to be, they equate “what she wants to be,” with “mother.” Even when folks who think they are progressive talk about respecting boundaries, they want to push mine right on over.

Here, I’m not just talking about patriarchal cis-males, though I’ve had my share of them trying to knock over my boundaries. Here, I also mean feminists, WOC, Pinays and Pinxys. I have disappointed a lot of them, with my refusal to nurture and mother, though I have rarely, if ever, promised mothering to anybody. I have always just wanted this about me to be accepted. It rarely is.

There will be people who say my general dislike, really my distaste for mothering is me being cut off from an essential part of myself. My response is that the ambitious and independent, questioning, poetry-making, wisdom-seeking, natural world and solitude loving selves have always been essential parts of myself. My response is that I can practice and embody kapwa in beautiful and necessary ways. My response is that there is something patriarchal about how mothering is the thing that keeps bubbling to the surface in our interactions and expectations and definitions of all women, womxn, and especially womxn of color.

Why people, why other women and WOC need to keep forcibly steering socially divergent folks like myself away from myself, and into a tiny, tiny little convenient box of obedience and compliance is my question for my next round of writing.

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