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April 21st, 2012

thinking aloud

aliettedb interviewed Fabio Fernandes and Djibril al-Ayad on their peerbackers project to raise money for the We See a Different Frontier sf anthology. Interview is here. Link to the project is here.

Jeff and Ann VanderMeer have launched a peerbackers project for a Feminist Speculative Fiction Anthology. More details on that here.

The objectives of these two projects speak to me and I want to contribute towards these projects even if it's just a little bit. Since I'm not rich, I hope spreading the word through whatever means available to me will help towards making these projects come true.


I've been thinking about narratives since Eastercon, and I have to say that a lot of the discussions I come upon seem to circle around the subject of narratives as well. Narratives coming from insiders, narratives coming from outsiders looking in, narratives from the dominant group, and narratives coming from non-anglophones. It's an interesting subject and one that we could keep on discussing...so it's wonderful that people come along with concrete projects meant to address the questions of narratives that are rarely given space.

I have to think of Barbara Jane Reyes's essay at the Poetry Foundation blog where she talks about Filipino American writing and how our voices are made invisible by our absence from the mega bookstore shelves. We talked about suppressing women's voices and about the need for diversity in the genre--and I think Barbara Jane makes a great point there which can be applied to the suppression of women's writings and the invisibility of non-anglophone voices.

The challenge for us, extends beyond translation. In an ideal world, translation would be a two way street. We translate from English and English translates from us. Our thinking and our knowledge of other cultures and other lands would be shaped by hearing the diverse voices coming from each culture, because no one voice can claim to be the authentic and true story of a culture. It is the diversity of voices within a culture that give us a clearer picture of what that culture is really like.

I find myself enraged when I think of stereotypes because the Filipina is often subject to stereotyping. A recent television program featured three Filipinas and their Dutch partners and I found myself growing enfuriated by the blatant sexism and the obvious persistence on depicting relationships between Filipinas and Dutch as one wherein economics and sex (not true love) play a huge role.

It's true that there are Filipinas who enter relationships with white men because of economics, but these are not the only kinds of relationships that exist. To imply that these relationships are typical of Dutch-Filipina relationships reduces the Filipina to a commodity--an object that can be bought or tried out. I wonder how aware program makers are of the messages they send out and whether they are conscious of the role they play in contributing to false expectations and the rise in incidents of domestic violence between couples of mixed races.

It pains me, it grieves me and it enfuriates me because I have known a good number of women whose partners treat them as objects. Exotic objects (sorry for the E word) bought and paid for and put on display as proof of their superiority. Is it a wonder then when such marriages/partnerships often end in divorce or in domestic abuse?

That the media opts to present only one type of story, is an injustice because it paints all mixed race relationships with the same brush. The message such stories project is often this: We are all in it only for money or because we do not have a future back home.

As if marriage were not already a fraught experience where partners need to adjust and accept each other's flaws and foibles, the media insistence on stereotype adds the pressure of having outsiders looking at the partnership and judging it based on the story media has presented.

Memo to all: Not all mixed race partnerships are brought about by economic need or because we don't have a future back home. The majority of successful mixed race partnerships are brought about by mutual love and respect and by meeting of minds and true understanding of the sacrifices made in order for the partnership to work.

Someone told me that presenting the story of equals in mixed race relationships is just not sensational enough for the networks...and that is really, really sad because it relays a message of: we don't really care about presenting a diversity of stories because as far as we're concerned one story is enough.

I thought of this as I worked on this post and I thought of how important it was for us to read, not just the one story written by the one writer from said culture...it is important to read more than that one story...to read more than that one writer...to see not just through the eyes of the well-researched outsider, but to see also with the eyes of the insider as she or he reveals to us the country and the culture that is familiar and dear to their hearts.

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