Tuesday, November 16, 2010


This past week we discussed the different values that children place on their parents. It was interesting to learn that, despite her multiple accolades and accomplishments in law- especially in feminist jurisprudence, Professor Pruitt's son still thinks that his father, who is a doctor (which, granted, is arguably as impressive), is in fact more impressive. From his point of view, she is "just" a teacher, while his father is a "doctor."

I can't say this shocks me. As discussed in an earlier post, at a young age boys may already feel the superiority complex over girls. But, this also deals with the different roles and values that society has placed on men and women in the household. Similar to Professor Pruitt's son, I once perceived my dad's career as more important than my mom's. My dad had a Ph.d, worked for the governor, and owned his own consulting firm. My mom "only" had an M.A. and did social work for the county in child protective services. Growing up, I hoped to be like my dad. Since then, I have realized that people are important in many different ways. I still aspire to be like my dad, but I also aspire to be like my mom.

At first glance, you wouldn't assume very much of her. She is small in size, 5'2" and about 130 pounds. Unlike my siblings and me, she doesn't talk very much and is often overshadowed by the people around her. Most people would consider her the typical, loyal Filipino daughter, wife, and mother. She cooks (banquets, daily), cleans (until her house is immaculate), and is devoted to her family. My dad would describe her has a "sampaguita," a native flower of the Philippines. It is also a term used to describe Filipino women who are modest and reserved in manner and behavior. However, do not let looks fool you. My mom is a powerful and strong woman. She has given birth to and raised four kids. She has experienced the loss of losing her best friend and greatest love- my dad. And now takes care of my grandmother.

Before this class, I didn't fully appreciate all the things she'd done and all the things she is capable of. Growing up, I never questioned how difficult and unfair it was for her to work full-time, especially as a social worker, and then have to come home for a "second shift," that involved cooking, cleaning, and taking care of my siblings and me. Also, although I am dealing with similar pressures today, I never thought of the pressures my mom had, and still has, to deal with as an Asian American woman closer to the generation that still highly values "tradition," which requires full and complete devotion to family instead of self.

Reflecting on all I have learned and taken away from this class, I realize how important it is to understand the concepts and themes presented over the semester. Formal equality and sameness, cultural feminism, dominance theory, radical feminism, essentialism, anti-essentialism, and the study of rural women are invaluable to living in and understanding the world around us. On a more personal level, however, this class has helped me grow and appreciate the women in my life, especially my mom.

1 comment:

Betty said...

This is a very touching post that rings personal to me as well, as I adopted a similar viewpoint while growing up. My dad was the one in our family to attend college at Cal with an Engineering degree while my mom stayed at home and raised her kids, worked a full-time job to support my dad, and on top of that was solely responsible for the upkeep of the house, which is a LOT to handle. While my dad is definitely someone I admire more than the world can handle, my mom is a force to be reckoned with just as much, if not arguably more. Not only because she rocks at more traditional gender roles, but because she exceeds the expectations that anyone's ever set for such roles. Even while my dad's the one who attended a University in this country and has the degree, my mom is the one who assimilated faster and with more ease into American culture as an immigrant, she's incorporated both traditional Asian AND American values into the process of raising my brother and I, and on top of that she still manages to play out "stereotypical" gender roles like a superhero.

While there are many other deep-seated implications that come with the fact that in a heterosexual (and ethnic and between two immigrants as well, in this case) marriage, I think it speaks much more loudly the fact that so much has been overcome and fought amongst these amazing women, in spite of and on top of having to fall into traditional roles. It's still very much celebrating feminism, in my eyes.