Monday, May 21, 2012

Catching Up with Princess Nemenzo

Back in 2004, I met Princess Nemenzo through a series of referrals from the NGO network. She was invited to speak at a small, hastily organized feminist rendezvous of several Ateneo students called Mulieris Day.

Excavated the announcement from the Mulieris e-group.

More than being former UP President Dodong Nemenzo's other half, Ma'am Princess is one of the most-respected women in the NGO sector, being a pioneer in the country's feminist movement and having advocated for political freedom since the 1960s. (Read more about Princess Nemenzo's contributions to the sector here and here.)

From her talk, one statement caught my attention and haunted me throughout the trying years that followed: How can women fight for their cause when they sleep with the enemy? Expounding the statement using Ma'am Princess own words out of my memory is now a challenge so instead, allow me to quote Scott London in The Future of Feminism: An Interview with Christina Hoff Summers:

This is another problem with feminism. Women think they form a discrete tribe. But we are intimately connected with "the enemy" — with men. They are our brothers, our fathers, our sons, and their fate is our fate. So I think the movement has a problem from the very beginning. Women will always be found sleeping with the enemy and making alliances with the so-called enemy. So there are fallacies there too that we will unite in sisterhood. (Emphasis supplied.)

I took the opportunity to bring up this particular memory from eight years ago when I saw Ma'am Princess at the Health Justice Media Briefing where she served as a panelist on behalf of Women's Health Philippines. As a way of fulfilling our unity in sisterhood, I also shared some of my own experiences as a young woman that put my feminist ideals into test.

Catching up with Princess Nemenzo was something I've always looked forward to, especially after three years' worth of failed attempts to blog something about women's strange relationship with the "enemy." Circumstances considered, I would have to say that meeting her again is more a product of fate than chance.

Two generations of feminists -- a lovely picture indeed!