This is the second See-ree-yous Entry I've posted in a row! It must be stopped. Following this, I promise we will return to our regularly scheduled programming.“On occasion,” as Mark Twain once said, “I have been accused of literature.” It has even been said--these are not my words, mind you--that “Nikki Alfar continues to explore gender issues.”
I never set out on a quest of gender-issue-exploration, though of course I’m aware that I tend to write ‘strong female characters’, as they’ve often been described. I don’t know about the word “strong”, myself--certainly I’ve written characters that are flawed, even some that are victims. So perhaps a better term would be ‘multidimensional female characters’: women who are more than just ‘the love interest’, ‘the ingenue’, ‘the mother figure’, or ‘the femme fatale’. Among our little creative group, I’ve become sort of the watchdog for the treatment and depiction of women in writing.
“But that’s the way women are seen in Filipino society,” some have responded to my watchdogging efforts. “I’m showing the current reality; so if women are marginalized in my fiction, it’s only because that’s the way it is.”
This is such an ‘excellent’ line of reasoning that if Jose Rizal had followed it, he would have depicted Filipinos as lazy and stupid; because, well, that’s how they were seen in what was then the current reality, wasn’t it?
My point is that art has power. When we present a creation--be it fiction, poetry, film, music, sculpture, painting, comics, or what-have-you--for public consumption, we are proliferating not just craft, but ideas. However limited or widespread our actual reach may be, we, as creators, have some small power to either cement or challenge notions and viewpoints in the minds of our audience. Therefore we have a responsibility to consider not just the text, but the subtext of what we create and disseminate.
This is not to say that we are constrained to depict nothing but an idealized society in which all members are created and treated as equals--definitely not! The problem lies not in showing the ugly side of human existence, but in appearing--whether by intent or accident--to accept it; even to celebrate it.
In our very meager way, we are creators. We are neither gods nor monsters, but we are capable of spawning them. Is it so much to ask ourselves to err on the side of godhood?