Let’s Protect the Girls of Tomorrow – #MeToo

January 23, 2018

Dear Readers,

The concept of transitioning into an adult, while still having a youthful soul is a scary thought. How can a girl share her creativity in a world that judges and criticizes too much? How can a girl be creative when gender barriers still exists… and for some reason, a boy’s creativity will always prevail over hers? How can a girl be strong enough to voice her truth, when no one seems to care… when no one seems to believe… when no one seems to take a stand. How can a girl be strong enough to conquer all forms of oppressions? How can a girl finally transition into a woman with passion, strength, and ability to empower others with her beautiful mind and heart?

When I was a kid, I had a strong fascination with balloons. This is my homage to the inner child in me – the child who had always believed in the good. The child whose innocence was not tainted by the sad reality that life is difficult – especially if you’re a girl.

Now, I can start this post by discussing the gender wage gap existing in the workforce, or by criticizing the likes of Harvey Weinstein or Donald Trump. I can tell you how much it pains me to know that male privilege exists in our society… how most of the top CEO’s are men, how the glass ceiling exists to target the female population, and how the opportunities for women to grow their careers are not as significant as it is for men. But instead, I want to narrow the vast oppression of women into one specific area: sexual harassment. 

I want to tell you how much I hate seeing women’s talents being ignored unless they’re ready to bare it their all. To be notice by a crowd, a woman not only has to showcase her abilities and talents, she must also be compliant to male orders and directions. A woman with a talent is nothing if she is not ready to bare herself to a man with authority…. to allow herself to be taken sexually… to be harassed in order to reach her dreams. This is the reality that tainted my innocence and pushed me to stand with the women who demands for equality and truth.

When I was kid, someone once told me to, “marry young and obey your husband”.  We brought up our girls to understand that women must be willing to cater to their husband’s needs, and we raised our girls to become “stay at home moms”. We had gone through generations of male dominance and male leadership, without ever questioning their “male” position as a female. Old traditions of teaching young girls to cook, sew, clean, and look beautiful for a man who’ll take care of her financially is outdated. Our society is partially to blame for ignoring all the voices of women who wanted more… for ignoring women who wanted to tell the truth… and for shutting down any woman who wanted to protest against the dominant male figure.

BUT THIS AWFUL REALITY ENDS TODAY. 

In university, I took a Women’s Studies class that had opened my eyes to the vast inequalities that women face compared to men. Women’s Studies made me understand that being a girl is really, really, really fucking hard. We have to work so much harder to get a job, to be creative, to excel in sports, to be noticed solely with our minds and not our bodies, and to be treated as equals of men. Women are more susceptible to domestic violence, sexual assault, harassment, and negative stigmas. Women role models in politics, sports, business, and religion are not as dominant as male role models. Men seem to have the better road in life… while we are forced to climb the highest mountain peaks, in order to reach what most men can easily attain. IT’S REALLY NOT FAIR. 

Sexual harassment is a term that I didn’t associate myself with before, and that is because of fear. I too, am guilty of being uncomfortable with the topic. I too, was oblivious with the topic. I used to be the person who would much rather talk about the latest Instagram trends than to talk about sexual harassment. Now that I think about it, I should had discussed the issue more when I could have… I should had done it for the sake of the next female generations to come.

What do I mean?

Well, I’ve never been sexually harassed before, but I know people who had been. At the time, their stories didn’t make me ache like it aches me now. Their stories didn’t touch me as deep, because I was uncomfortable and had very little knowledge about the topic. After taking a semester of Women’s Studies class, I can now confidently express my opinions about sexual harassment. That class broke my comfort levels and made me realize that if I keep being quiet about all the sexual harassments existing around me… if I choose to be quiet and not spread the voices of women needing to be heard… If I choose to do NOTHING… then I too, am failing at being a woman.

We need to listen to the women who had been hurt. We need to support them and let them understand that we are here for them… fighting with them… and we are here because we want the next generations to understand that they are safe. The next generation of girls needs to be raised knowing what their rights are, and knowing that their rights are protected. The next generation of girls needs to understand that their bodies are not a sexualized item. The next generation of girls deserve to feel like their voices, opinions, and ideas matter. We MUST obliterate sexual harassment now, for the sake of all our future daughters, and their daughters.

Ideally, we must fight against the men who feel entitled to harassing women and placing our bodies in a sexualized manner – we must defend our rights as women to be treated as equals of men. Ideally, the word “sexual harassment” should be an issue most boys get educated about in order for them to treat their future girlfriends and wives with the utmost respect. Most importantly, we must educate our boys about sexual harassment NOW, in order to protect the girls of tomorrow, and to give justice for the women who had suffered sexual harassment or assault.

SEXUAL HARASSMENT – It is real. It is affecting women’s lives. It is an issue we must address.

As a creative individual/blogger, I feel safe knowing that I have a platform that doesn’t need me to succumb to any male input. I have the control over my blog, thus I have the ability and freedom to release whatever creativity, content, stories, posts, or pictures I want to share. IF my freedom as a blogger was ever taken away from me, that would honestly shatter my spirit and destroy any of my desires to keep on writing… I can only imagine what it must had felt like for those creative women to be oppressed by men. That’s like me losing my blog… that’s like me losing my voice. 

Creativity stems dreams.

We all have creativity inside us. We all have dreams. The reason why I stand with the #MeToo movement (movement against sexual assault and harassment) is because of the undignified individuals who are threatening the dreamers from dreaming… thus threatening the dreamer’s creativity and ideas. If we keep on being silent about sexual harassment, how many more girls will have dreams of making it big only to find out that she must take her clothes off first in order to make it BIG… How many more innocent dreamers will we wake up in the nightmare of being raped, just because they really wanted that job they worked so hard to attain… How many more creative thinkers are we going to kill just because their ideas threatened ours… How many more creative minds are we going to ignore just because we’re scared to listen… HOW MANY MORE?

The #MeToo movement inspired this post. I wanted to share with you all my take and my voice against sexual harassment. The photoshoot in which I had the beautiful honour shooting with Jason May, is my abstract view of childhood and adulthood. In the photos below, I symbolize the adult and the balloons represents the little girl I used to be. As a woman, I STILL CARRY THE VOICE OF MY YOUNGER SELF. My younger self was pure and innocent… the little girl in me always believed in the good… and I still believe in that light, which is the goodness triumphing over the bad. As an adult, I will now carry on my younger self’s vision and pass on that light to the next generation… essentially, I’m passing on these balloons to you. I hope that you stand in the light of the good.

Dear Readers, this is the time wherein we really need to listen and to be more accepting. To the men who are standing with us and listening, I applaud you so much. To the women who are voicing their stories to the public, I hope you keep on talking because you have an audience at your feet. To the younger kids who are scared to be creative and to dream… keep on dreaming, someday your dreams will become a reality.

With love,

Mary Dezleigh Teodosio.

 

 

 

Don’t Doubt Yourself – The E.B.T Notion

June 26, 2017

Dear Readers,

We all have fears; Fear of our dreams, fear of our future, fear of losing people, fear of the uncertainties, fear of death, fear of living life, and many, many more fears. The list of fears can never be stopped. But your state of mind and how you handle these fears can be changed. Lately, I’ve been coming to terms with my own fears too. For the most part, my fears are derived from the fears of others. But, what does that mean? 

In my family, failure is never an option. In fact, this belief is not only persistent in my family but it also exists in other families all over the world. For those of you who may not know me well, I come from a strong Filipino home. My parents being Filipinos had implanted in my head to attain my life goals through being competitive academically, socially, artistically, and/or physically. To be the best, according to my culture one must be one of the 3 things: educated, beautiful, OR talented (Let’s call this the E.B.T notion). If you lack attributes in any of these 3 categories your life is deemed for failure, while having all 3 suggests your life will be better than most. 

I say “FUCK THAT” to the E.B.T notion.

This notion is insanely absurd because it places a limit on an individual. What bothers me the most is how this concept ranks an individual according to their mental capacity, physical appearance, and inborn gifts. Why are we categorized according to the E.B.T notion? How does this lead towards our own self-fulfillment and dreams? I absolutely hate this notion because it implies failure IS AN OPTION IF YOU’RE NOT EDUCATED, BEAUTIFUL OR TALENTED. Instead of influencing a child to be a dreamer, and to believe in his/her own capacity we turn to the E.B.T notion to promote more fears and doubts. We instill the idea of “you’re not good enough” instead of promoting “you can do it”. We tend to emphasize more on the failure rather than the possibility of success. This idea gives birth to fears and doubts in our youths solely because it underlines that if you’re not smart, attractive or talented, then what else can you possibly offer. This notion develops doubts within our youths to the highest extent.

Frustrating. This whole notion in itself is out of shape. I understand that old habits never dies, such as old beliefs never fades. I understand the importance of education, but do we really need a million lawyers, doctors, scientists and businessmen? Being beautiful is a gift, but is beauty really the same in everyone’s eyes? For the women who were not born with a pretty face, does that ultimately mean we are obligated to surgical enhancements in order to be deemed as beautiful? Just like beauty, being talented is also an individual gift. But when we say “talent“, why do we automatically assume that the realms of being “talented” are only defined within musical, artistic, and athletic gifts.

There is so much more to life than just this.

The pressures we place upon the younger generation is too much. We expect too much from our young people, when we ourselves do not possess the ability to meet all these expectations. Due to our high expectations from our own failures, we force our youths to be better than US and the mistakes (or lack thereof) we made. For some, these expectations are influenced by unrealized dreams and goals that were never accomplished. Some, retains the E.B.T notion as mere tradition as it was something implied upon their lives in so they must do the same to their children. Regardless of the reasoning why high expectations exists, for the most part offsprings are often obligated to carry on their parents’ unrealized dreams. The children are expected to be better than the failures of their parents… and to be the next best thing.

This is unfair.

What we want from the younger generations may not exactly be what they want for themselves. We all have different gauges of success. For instance, some may define success through monetary achievements and material possessions. Some may define success through scholastics and knowledge. Some may define success by family intactness and strong friendships. Some will find success in pure solitude. For someone to determine the meaning of success in your life is truly limiting and insufferable. As we age, we will value things differently… some will value wealth more than family, education more than beauty, or talent over hard work. It should be your right as an individual to characterize your own life and develop your own values… it should be your freedom to decide what is truly important for your own good and happiness. For someone to imply the means of “how to live and how to have a good life” in your own life, is not acceptable at all.

You must break-free and follow your heart.

Life will always present fears and doubts in your head. The constant trouble of doubts will never leave your side, and even the most accomplished people have their own doubts too. For instance, let’s consider the situation of new university graduates. Yes, the new grads had definitely fulfilled one of the E.B.T requirements. But does that mean they’re ultimately on their way to a “happy-ever-after“? This question is so difficult to answer, because success and happiness varies for everyone. Some grads will find life fulfillment through knowledge and accomplishing a higher level of education. Some will not find any worth to this accomplishment until they find a job in which they can start acquiring monetary and career fulfillment. To some, this level of education may not be purposeful at all… to them, university education may just be a symbolic piece of paper in which they spent 4 years or more of their life achieving. Regardless of how you value your education, at the end of the day your happiness should only be characterized by you. Let’s keep expanding on this idea… shall we?

To those who value education, their definition of success is shaped by completing their university degree. To those who value money, their degrees is just another stepping stone towards their own definition of success. Lastly, to those who value education the least, their degree may just be a symbol of accomplishment that their families expected from them. That’s not all of it, here’s what triggers me the most…. what about the ones who will never find fulfillment in education… will they find fulfillment too?

If you think about, education is just one aspect of the E.B.T notion. Unfortunately, not everyone will satisfy each category of the E.B.T or to the extremely “unlucky” ones, they will never satisfy the E.B.T notion at all. Will these “unlucky” ones find fulfillment as well?

The answer is: YES.

IT DOES NOT MATTER IF YOU FALL WITHIN THE E.B.T NOTION OR NOT, BECAUSE YOUR HAPPINESS IS BASED ON YOUR OWN AND HOW YOU DEFINED IT FOR YOURSELF.

If living a simple life means the world to you, then go ahead and pursue it. If you want to dance for a living for the rest of your years, then dance your heart away. If you want to become the next Donald Trump and make billions, then go ahead and hustle hard. Don’t doubt yourself just because others have doubts in you. Don’t trap yourself within the false boundaries that other people had created to limit your life. The doubts we have exists within the confines of this imaginary boundary that many doubters had created upon us. These doubters will always doubt you, and you must not let their negativity impact your life. Once you start doubting yourself, then that’s when you truly become a failure.

It doesn’t matter how, when and/or where you’ll find your happiness and self-fulfillment. Life is a journey… and through this journey you will understand more and more of yourself. Life will scare us all. We will find ourselves feeling lost at some point… and our doubts will haunt us from time to time. But the key to overcoming these doubts in our heads is simple: you need to believe in yourself and understand that you control your own life. Never let anyone else dictate your life for you… because once you start listening to the doubters, you will be become one too. A failure’s biggest mistake is doubting their own self.

Don’t doubt yourself. You can fucking do it.

With love,

Mary Dezleigh Teodosio.

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