What makes you a woman?

By Patty Sue

Note: This post can also be found in Patty Sue’s blog, thenyannyanadventures

You will all burn in hell. Mwahah! (Image via whynotcoconut.com)

”Homosexuality is not a sin, it is a lie from the devil. Do not be deceived. God loves gays and wants them to know the truth.”  -Miriam Quiambao

This is a tweet from the former beauty queen, Miss Miriam Quiambao. At first, I could not believe that she thinks this way of the LGBT community. I thought beauty queens are chosen not only for their beautiful appearance but also because they represented what is beautiful in humanity. But, what the heck, who am I kidding. I hate beauty pageants in the first place. Even if most people in society regard this as a significant event that seeks “true beauty”, I think it’s just a venue of parading women who live up to society’s expectations of beauty. In short, it’s more of an imposition of beauty rather than a discovery of one. My art studies professor once said that beauty pageants are no more  than sheep contests, wherein you pin a blue ribbon to the most attractive and well-bred sheep. You can’t really realize genuineness through a bikini, vital statistics, or long gown contest. The question-and-answer portion won’t suffice either. (I think we have been witnesses to that so many times.) So this makes me really frustrated and angry to hear such statements from a beauty queen.

Now, what was the issue that, Miriam Quiambao had to say things like this? Well, it all started with Donald Trump’s announcement that in 2013, Miss USA will allow transgenders to join. This decision was pushed to a finality after it was revealed that Miss Canada 2012 was actually a transgender. Although the it is still deemed to be problematic, LGBT sees this an important step to assert their identity and empower their community even more. Let’s face it, LGBTs are discriminated against in every social institution there is. They’ve been called demons and social deviants. They are stigmatized with stereotypes that are far from which they truly are. There have been several incidents of abuse and hate-crimes against the LGBT in the country. One case describes the burning of a gay person then stabbing him to death. All of these happen because of reckless words and unjust actions.

Now back to Miriam Quiambao. Okay, she has her own opinion on this issue. I respect opinions but I abhor imposing your opinions on everyone else. Aside from her tweets, she also had a number of interviews on TV where she was seated with transgenders. Of all the arguments which were laid in the discourse, Miss Miriam used one of the ‘most used’ and rather ‘misused’ of them all- religion. Roman Catholicism to be exact. I am Roman Catholic but I don’t persecute or humiliate others using my religion as a front.

Miss Miriam Quiambao should have been careful in choosing her words. Although I understand where she’s coming from since she is a former beauty queen and tradition has also been a huge and great wall to break in our country, it still does not justify her saying that homosexuality is a lie from the DEVIL. She should have realized that she is an icon in the country and very much part of the media so anything she says will make a great impact or influence on the audience. And to use biblical passages to defend this, if I must say, is insulting to those like me who loves LGBTs and GOD. I have to be honest by saying that since I was little, I didn’t mind interacting with LGBTs, considering my father is a homophobic. I guess it has a lot to do with my mother who’s always fair in treating people (that’s why I love her so much!) I studied in Christian schools and I’ve met with the most stern and horrific nuns and school administrators. Posing a question in class that leans on going against the Scripture was actually a taboo. You questioning their authority (and assumingly God’s) will either make you a troubled child to be sent for counselling or a real troublemaker that needs to be silenced. I was a ‘good’ girl back then and I basically conformed to everything that my teachers said. There were a few mentors whom I can confide with and few friends who share my sentiments.

Everything changed when I went to college where I befriended beautiful and wonderful people who aren’t straight. most of them are my best friends now. And I tell you they’re not any less lovable or respectable as any of my straight friends. When you attach labels, you create a division that isn’t supposed to exist. Furthermore, if it’s reinforced in institutions which are supposed to protect you, it creates an atmosphere of hate based on opinions which are strengthened through force and enculturation and without much enlightenment. I mean, really. Hearing Miriam Quiambao hurts my ears so much and makes me think how the hell does she deal with gays in her everyday life? The most talented fashion gurus and stylists are gays and considering her line of work, she must have dealt with a lot of them. Does she judge them while looking at them? Does she bat her eyes and say thank you whenever they make her look beautiful, while deep inside she thinks that they are lies from the devil?

Aside from her tweets, (which now turned to apologies with matching biblical quotations) there was one particular interview that also got on my nerves. It was when she asked a transgender, “What makes you a woman?” Well, it could have been just an inquiry for the sake of shedding light in the issue but I recognize a malicious tone when I hear one. So what did the transgender say? She told Miriam that she knows herself probably more than anyone and that being a woman is not only determined by your biological characteristics. ”Beauty is not in the vagina,” said JC Tejano, former chairperson of our college student council. I wished I could have shoved this statement right on Miriam’s mouth.

Well, what makes a woman, a woman?

In beauty pageants, one of the most popular question would be, “What is the essence of a woman?” A lot would say it’s having children or when you have an education or do things that men could do. These could be valid answers but I think it all boils down to having a choice. In other words, whatever you choose to define yourself with, people should respect that and recognize that you are empowered in what you’re doing. In fact, I’d like to take this to the extremes by citing that some Japanese porn stars find pornography empowering for them since they are in control of their bodies. I won’t go far from home and say that my mother, who is “just a mere housewife” for some men and women alike, take pride in being at home and taking care of me and the rest of the family. Our society will always have the notion that successful womanhood entails only those women who have a high-paying job and a prestigious career. In lack of a better reaction to this, I’ll just say that it’s completely BS. :)

How do I end this blog? I guess, I’ll conclude it by saying that Miss Miriam Quiambao is irresponsible and insensitive in her statements. To apologize on how she said it but not on what she said is an even greater insult to the LGBT community. To say that she didn’t expect that her statements would cause an upset is a presentation of complete ignorance of the dynamics of human discourse and ethics. To limit womanhood and beauty to a biological woman is a grave assault to the LGBTs out there who live and express their lives, their whole being, to what they believe is right. To use religion and to preach in God’s name to spread animosity instead of understanding is a sin against the basic commandment of God that all “preachers’ tend to forget: love one another.

People are people, Miriam. You’re crazy to judge others just because they’re different from you.

6 responses to “What makes you a woman?

  1. discoursehungry

    I understand that what she did was offensive to many people, to LGBTs and advocates of their rights, however, I do not think she deserves to be attacked like she was. She was not saying that only those who are biologically female have the monopoly of beauty. All she said was that they should not crossover to women’s territory. Do transgenders/sexuals own up to being women? Or to being transgenders/sexuals? Also, and I think we’re on the same page on this, beauty pageants are really nothing but objectification of those in it. So if what we want for all genders is empowerment, why fight for their right to join pageants that would only subject them to vulnerability and objectification? Yes, we, as people do have power to choose our own paths and perspectives. But we cannot choose the world we live in. It sucks, really. But I think saying that the LGBT has the freedom of choice and empower them with it while attacking Miriam for speaking her mind, for which she definitely exercised her choice, is a double standard. Anyway, interesting piece. I hope there could be more discourse about it in this site towards wider and wiser perspectives for you, me and those who read 🙂 Thanks.

    • Hello discoursehungry,

      Thanks for taking the time to read and opening up a way for discourse.

      I’m not the one who wrote this post, but I’ll try to put my two cents in as I pretty much agree with what Patty has written above (at least to the extent of what I know of the matter). First of all, I’d like to comment about your statement: “But we cannot choose the world we live in.” I’d like to think that we can still do something to make this world a better place, even though there are people that prevents progress. We cannot choose the world we live in, but I firmly believe that we can change it for the better.

      I don’t think Patty’s post is an attack at Miriam at all. Rather, she writes a critique about Miriam’s beliefs. And this is not just HER beliefs, but the collective beliefs of the homophobic Christians in the world — as explicitly exemplified by Miriam at that particular time. I am openly lesbian. And yes, her tweet did hurt. I mean, imagine being insulted for being what you fundamentally are. But I only shrugged it off as “another homophobic comment” at that time. However, you can call me as one of those lucky lesbians who don’t get tormented everyday for being gay. Persistence of homophobic ideologies like her prevent LGBTs to live a happy, peaceful life — let alone to live at all. A lot of LGBTs have experienced torture and even death around the world — which is why you shouldn’t be surprised that many gays lashed against her (though I’m personally against lashing out to another person, but dig deep and there’s a reason).

      As for the issue regarding the transgenders/sexuals and the beauty pageant, Miriam’s insult was in questioning their femininity or the “woman-ness”. I guess the trouble lies in the fact that we still have a name for them, rather than calling them just woman. In her comment, she denies the transgender/sexual to ever have the female beauty. Interestingly, this view has always been part of the cultural baggage brought forth by the west. Many cultures don’t have this problem and I don’t see why there should be. Live and let live.

      Peace be with you.


      PS.. I’ll inform Patty of your comment so she can respond. 🙂

      • discoursehungry

        Hey Kert, I certainly get your points 🙂 Thanks for responding. It’s just that, lately I have been stressing over the differences people have in the world. I myself used to be a homophobic Christian but after hurting a lot of people and growing out of that sort of faith (choosing to, of course) I realized my perspectives sucked ass. In my mind, I am just hopeless that the world is ever going to be a “better place” for everyone in it. See, a “better place” for the LGBTs, for instance, will not be a “better place” for, say, Christians like Miriam here. Ugh. Christians are also being insulted for who they are and what they believe in, btw. Like the rest of the world is insulted by the rest of the world :(( In light of this, do you think individualism is an answer? Or maybe it’s just a safe position.

        Also, I was not saying that Patty was attacking Miriam here, I was saying that the world was. She really does genuinely love gays. And mainly, love is a good thing, unfortunately, Christians love in a different way–in a way that accepts you initially for who you are but will eventually change you into a “new being”. (Saying this btw, as a concept I learned and not as a belief I subject myself to).

        But yea, since I normally don’t have peace with the rest of the world, I like to take it when someone offers it. Peace be with you 🙂

    • discoursehungry,

      I personally don’t really care much about Christians. And the rest of the world would too, if only Christians would stop shoving their beliefs down people’s throats and meddling with other people’s personal lives.

  2. Hi discoursehungry! Thanks for reading my post!
    I agree and would pretty much elaborate on Kert’s points.

    This is not an attack at Ms. Miriam Quiambao at all. I am merely recognizing and reacting to the statements she had for the LGBT community with regards to not only joining beauty pageants but also in defining them when she used descriptions such as ‘lies from the devil’. I agree that she has every right to express her beliefs and opinions and I am not against that. I took her beliefs and opinions and criticized her for saying something so explicitly hurtful for LGBTs out there. The fact that she expressed her disapproval of letting transgenders/sexuals to ever join a beauty pageant was too much of an imposition and discrimination for me. And just like Kert said, we choose ways and means in which we want to be empowered and I would pretty much respect any transgender/sexual or gay who wants to join a beauty pageant because she feels this is her way of asserting her identity as a woman since we live in a society that often denies this. I still don’t like beauty pageants but I believe that transgenders/sexuals who wish to join these do this as act of rebellion. I guess more than wanting to be on the stage to be judged, they want society to recognize their femininity. They want people to accept them as women. They are and they’re so beautiful. 🙂

    We cannot choose the world we live in but we can try to change things for the better. A lot of people are born into poverty or discrimination and they’re experiencing this every day of their lives but simple acts of resistance, constant questioning and having discourses like this would mean so much. I am a 100% dreamer and I’ve been accused of being idealistic but I believe ideals are ideals unless someone actually does them.

    I apologize if I used words which are too extreme. But my post does not take interest in Miriam as a person but more on Miriam saying those things to the LGBT. I cannot help to share the sentiments of some of the LGBTs out there and I just cannot let Miriam slip away with her words. 🙂

    Again, thanks for taking time to read this! Meow. 🙂

    • discoursehungry

      Thanks for responding Patty, I pretty much don’t really care about Miriam as a person, I mean, i don’t really know her and I don’t feel so strongly about the what happened to her. It’s just that these conflicting ideas that are considered fundamental by the individuals who employ them to his/her life is bringing the world down. I guess it would just be easier to pick a side, don’t you think? In this case (and in many other disagreements among sectors in the society) both sides feel that they are right and they are insulted because of that which makes them stand up even straighter and sturdier. It’s a never ending battle. That’s it, I’m going to stop trying to be an objective spectator and pick a damn side.

      Your words have the ability to inspire. Sometimes idealism is contagious. Keep writing Patty 🙂

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