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Pia Besmonte

is back

Here are some female links

I lost NaNoWriMo, but the challenge to write everyday led me to my next writing project. For now, here are some female links:

My opinion is that we can’t use the master’s tools. At the end of the day the artist’s intention is lost in perception, and it will still be put through the male gaze. But these artists are so good they’re changing my mind.

  • And lastly, this study on motherhood regret struck a chord with me. I need more time to digest the insights before I express them. After all, I have yet to write a story of birth.

 

Writing is Righting

pia Besmonte mike check writing righting

“Your message is important,” my fiancé hugged me as I got in the car this morning. I was on my way to Cavite. Another talk. Today I told young people: writing is righting.

The Power of Female Friendships

I dropped by Buku-Buku Kafe around lunch time to drop some more books for consignment. Buku Buku Kafe is owned by my friend and fellow UGRAD alumna, Jess. I wasn’t expecting her because she told me of her schedule, but she was there when I arrived. We had lunch together and caught up.

It is such a privilege to have people with whom I can check in. It has been a year since Jess and I last met in person. I performed at Buku Buku Kafe for an open mic. Jess and I come from different life circumstances, and that enriches our friendship because we can see things in the same light.

Jess has a space where she features upcoming artists like me. I perform at Buku Buku and tell my friends to drop by the cafe.

Pia Besmonte Jess Santiago

Book Talk at Statefields School Cavite

May Anne picked me up at Buku Buku. She was ecstatic that I agreed to speak at her school. Of course I am too, and I asked for more information about her school and the audience. She sheepishly warned me that I might have to dilute my message a little bit for their comprehension level. They are junior high school students.

pia Besmonte statefields school

They were the best group of students with whom I have shared my work. The Grade 11 Stallions (I called them Statefielders, it was a hoot) were responsive, empathetic, and encouraging. If they represent the next generation of Filipinos, I feel assured that we are going to be okay. Also because they don’t have finstagrams.

Writing is Righting

Liz Gilbert once said, do not abuse yourself for the choice that you made when all you knew was what you knew today.

There is something about self-forgiveness that is very visceral. I need to forgive myself many times a day to stay focused on my purpose in this world. I cannot be my own enemy while trying to write to save a hypothetical someone out there in the world. I cannot stop flailing my legs to keep afloat when I am trying to rescue those who are drowning.

I cannot stop and I will not stop writing.

 

There’s no guarantee

This is a message to all sexual assault survivors: there’s no guarantee that it will not happen to you again.

You may have gone through the stages of grieving your before self. You may have found a good man who loves you and understands that you lash out when you feel threatened or hurt. You may have rebuilt your life. You may have bid adieu to toxic people who use your story of struggle for their own (financial) agenda. You may have developed defense and comfort mechanisms for your trauma.

There’s no guarantee

Wherever you are in life after surviving sexual assault, it can still happen to you.

And you will be surprised, just like the first time. Maybe even more so than the first time. You will be taken aback by who it would be: men are wising up and donning the clothes of allies.

They will praise your courage. They will use the language of political correctness. They will beat their breasts and apologize for being born male.

But they will also look at you from head to toe, grinning lecherously. When they lead you to the stage, towards the platform you are crafting for yourself book by self-published book, they will touch you in the small of your back. They will hog your time after your “wonderful performance” (translate: your advocacy is a branding stunt), and ask stupid questions like

What are your thoughts on abortion?

To them, abortion is a Rorschach test. They will try to gauge how radical you are. How cruel to fetuses. How selfish.

Worse, it’s that lake/virginity test in high school, where boys will see if you will give them access to your blossoming breasts and other orifices. If you will let them stick their tongues in your mouth. If you will be “open-minded”.

There’s no guarantee

That you will know that you’re being harassed again as it is happening. That you even know how to respond better, defend yourself better, fight back better.

You will review the scene in your mind again and again, wondering where you started lowering your guard.

You will try to remember your words, whether you said something that admitted an opening to your more fragile selves. The way vampires in film can enter the house once the owner invites them in.

You will be angry. You will regress, go back to the time of darkness and rage. You will dissociate. You will want to shut down.

But when you do, you let them win. All without them even knowing the gravity of their action to your psyche. You let them defeat your spirit.

Then truly, there is no guarantee.

That there will be continuity. Of storytelling and coming out and being brave and creating a safe space for yourself and for others.

If you stop, there is no guarantee that they will stop abusing their gatekeeper status.

If you stop writing, there is no guarantee that the next generation of writers will not inherit that male hubris of getting away with things because they are men and good writers.

If you let them win, your message won’t reach other girls who are hiding secret stories of shame inside armors of romanticism and self-hate and aggression.

So breathe.

Make peace that it happened again, even when you think you have reached a place of strength. Especially when you think you have reached a place of strength. There is nothing you did, or could ever do, that would make you deserve to be hurt by men. It is still not your fault.

Be done with carrying the guilt meant for the harasser.

Don’t stop, and keep spreading this message.