I am not any poet’s girl

Posted: June 1, 2008 in commentary, Rants

Old established male poet: “Oo nga pala noh, taga Dumaguete ka.” Gives me a nod and a smile.

Me: “Yes.”

Old established male poet: “Girlfriend ka pala ni Sawi noh..” (referring to Cesar Aquino, the Dumaguete-based poet)

Me: (confused, insulted, astounded) “Ha?”

Old established male poet: “O di ba, one those girls ni Sawi…” laughs a loud

Me: (speechless)

Then I just laughed it off. I wonder if it was the Laugh of the Medusa. But it wasn’t enough. Sorry Helene, I am a third-world postmodern feminist.

*I really don’t want to rant here so I guess I just have to show you the kind of stupid conversation (insulting enough to make my feminist fangs grow out) I had with someone (one of those literary gods in Manila) last week. I don’t know what his intention was, perhaps it was said in jest, or maybe he was trying to be cute. But still, I found it really crass, sexist and mean. I don’t care if he’s a “god” and if he can make or break my literary career (it’s non-existent in the first place), because I’m not really afraid of him and never was. Goodness, so there’s some truth to the JOKE then that this circle of literary gods actually think they’re god’s gift to literature, and that if you’re female the only way to get in is to be either a “slut” or a “virgin.”

Poor Sawi. He has nothing to do with this angry entry. For the life of me, I was NEVER any poet’s girl. Sawi was my teacher in Creative Writing back in college and I am very fond of him. I still even believe that he is one of the best poets in this country.

But to be subject to such distasteful joke is so traumatic, it makes me wanna just lash out. Perhaps, women writers who are truly truly interested in breaking the cycle of silence do have to problematize this whole idea of forever kowtowing to the desires of this “established” circle. I am not saying it is really a phenomenon, but the more I observe, the more I can see how “licking assess” is such a everyday event for literary writers.

Enough said.

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