this story originally appeared in the philippine daily inquirer on April 10, 2001.
I am a feminist. As rabid as Rina Jimenez-David who writes a column in this widely read newspaper. I don’t, however, share her views on the role of women, motherhood and marriage. Let me explain.
Marriage and motherhood are indeed ordained goals in a woman’s life, inasmuch as marriage and fatherhood are those of men. They are simply part of the natural law and supernatural law. Marriage and parenthood, however, are not the only goals in women and men’s lives. As Ms David at one time pointed out, nuns may be defying a natural law. In fact, I think in the case of nuns and those who choose to remain single for God, supernatural law supersedes the natural one. Those people, in pursuing their call, have made a better choice.
This is not the case, however, with women who make what Ms David calls “unconventional” choices. By “unconventional” choices I presume that, among others, she refers to the following: going into a relationship with a man to have a child but with no marriage contract attached; or getting married but not wanting to have children; or going into same-sex relationships. Women who make these choices are indeed going against the natural law. This time, however, it is not in favor of a supernatural one. Perhaps it is in favor of their own selves. They say they are merely exercising their own rights. Does choosing in favor of oneself make an action unnatural? Yes, if it means defying God’s laws. A woman who defies God’s laws is not being true to herself. She is ruining herself. Media, and some media personalities, on the other hand, make us believe otherwise. God does not star in MTVs or in the movies. He is often out of the picture.
There is also often an open defiance of His laws. Of course, we always have the choice to obey his laws or not; but there are consequences to our choices. In the natural and physical sphere, the consequences are usually obvious and come almost immediately. Like, if I decide to defy the law of gravity and jump out of a 10-story building, the consequences are predictable and obvious. This is not always the case in the moral sphere. If I decide to defy God’s moral laws, the consequences are not as quick in coming. In fact, I may even get into a complacent delusion that there is no God to reckon with my moral decisions, twisted or otherwise.
The book of Proverbs says: “Who shall find a valiant woman? Far and from the uttermost coasts is the price of her. Favor is deceitful and beauty is vain: the woman that fears the Lord, she shall be praised.” Obviously, this kind of woman puts God first in her life. If she is single, she will always make sure her relationships are at the very least a triad: God, herself and the other person. If she is married, a God-fearing, or maybe better put, a God-loving woman always mindful of her duties to her family. Being a good mother and wife does not become an “oppressive expectation” of society but a loving duty. In fact, this kind of woman may end up realizing that motherhood, too, is a vocation. God calls her to serve him by serving her family well, even if this means going through many different sacrifices.
When I think of a God-fearing woman who embodies the Bible passage I just quoted, I automatically think of my mother. She gave up her ambition to become a lawyer after she married one. She not only had to take care of his needs but also those of five children who came after. The man she married proceeded to become a successful lawyer, ending up as a justice in the Court of Appeals. She, however, satisfied herself with an eight to five job. She has not pleaded her case. She has not regretted the decisions she made in the past. Judging by the way her children turned out (myself, included), I would say that she had done an excellent job as a wife and mother. She continues to do so, and is always trying to supersede her past achievements in “mothering and wifing.” She never had the “oppressive-expectation-of-women-by-society” complex. On the contrary, she always fostered her love for the home and domestic concerns. So naturally, this love passed on to me. Moreover, when I encountered Blessed Josemaria Escriva’s teachings on the role of women in society, I understood them perfectly and decided to make them part of my life because I had a living example to look at in the person of my mother. Blessed Josemaria Escriva provided the doctrine and my mother had long before practiced it.
So, guess where I ended up? For the first seven years of my working life, I taught underprivileged young women in a domestic technical-vocational school. Schools of this kind are directly inspired by Blessed Josemaria Escriva’s teachings. In materiality, working there wasn’t exactly like what my mother did, but in essence it was the same. I, too, decided to put my legal ambitions on hold in order to do some domestic-related task. This is why I call myself an alternative feminist. Domestic work is not glamorous or as materially rewarding as other jobs done in this country. I think, however, that the remuneration is simply out of this world. Some of my friends say “sayang.” I say, “If only I had seven more years or maybe a lifetime-to continue doing it.” Circumstances change, however. In any case, I want to thank my mother and Blessed Josemaria Escriva for making me see what a woman should be. Thank you for inspiring me to be a feminist-of the kind you can be proud of.