In this interview, we talk with J & E, the masterminds behind the Instagram activist account @thefilipinafeminists
- What do you consider your biggest accomplishment?
J: This blog is actually one of our biggest accomplishments as it embodies the fruits of our year-long passion project.
E: I agree. There’s really nothing more fulfilling than activist work, even though it’s also exhausting most of the time.
- Have you always been a feminist?
J: No, in fact, I have been a problematic girl growing up. But various learning environments and people I came to interact with me helped in discovering my inner feminist.
E: Not really. I think it wasn’t until J and I became really close friends that I started to identify as a feminist. We’ve really helped each other unlearn internalized misogyny, although we still have a lot of learning and growing to do.
- What are the some problems facing Filipina women that we should be aware of?
While the Philippines have been dubbed a country of hospitable people, we have our share of problems growing up as Filipinas. From being taught to hate anything outside of Eurocentric beauty standards to knowing the “limits” we have as girls.
We are given less opportunity but more responsibility to be the more mature person. We are always judged for our decisions especially when it comes to our bodies; slutshaming and bodyshaming are served to us like snacks on the daily. And although there are progressive groups and loving communities for LGBTQ+ folks, we still experience discrimination in multiple forms.
Just thinking about these problems take a toll on us but it also fuels us to do more for the country even if it’s just a small platform like our blog (for now).
- What are your goals for your platform? We really want to use our platform to encourage Filipinas all over the world to love and be proud of our roots. Colonial mentality is such a huge problem here in the country and internalized racism is deeply embedded in our culture. We grew up hating the color of our skin, our features, our accent—through The Filipina Feminists, we want to make the public aware of these problems and, hopefully, to inspire change that celebrates who we are and where we come from.
- Who are some Filipina feminist women you look up to? E: I really look up to Antoinette Taus. She was a popular actress and host here in the Philippines during the 90s and I loved her then, but her activist work today is what really inspires me. She is the founder of Communities Organized for Resource Allocation (CORA), which creates sustainable programs that aim to solve social issues such as inequality, poverty, and hunger in the country. She also launched Planet CORA that addresses climate change and, together with the UN Environment Program, started a campaign called Clean Seas Philippines. On top of that, Antoinette Taus is an ambassador for the UN Development Program.
- What was your inspiration in starting this platform? As stated in the introductory article of our blog (J&E, The Filipina Feminists), it all began as a joke, that we wanted a podcast to air out our usual rants as women. What ignited this idea was a heated argument with our guy friends on sexual harassment and how the media covers such cases. We argued that the name of the accused should be published even though there’s yet to be a trial or verdict because we want to protect other people from potentially being victimized. Both of them said “I get it but…”—there was always a but! Even when we told them that only 3% of accusations are false—and that’s when we knew that this really had to happen. The podcast became an idea for a blog, and then the idea for a blog started the Instagram account where most of our followers come from.
- Sum yourselves up in one word.
- What is your go-to coffee order? We’re both hardcore Gilmore Girls fans and we are serious about our coffee. Each TFFs meeting demands a caffeine dose! J’s favorite drink is an iced latte while E’s is an iced Americano with two to three pumps of white mocha and a splash of breve—no water!
- What do you consider the biggest problem facing all Asian women to be? It’s being objectified. Society puts us in a box – fetishized, obedient housewives, and traditional – and whenever we attempt to break free, we are judged and discriminated against (even by our own friends and families). As women, we have the right to be treated as humans, with respect and dignity.