A Love Note to Sisters in Struggle – The Feminist Wire

A Love Note to Sisters in Struggle

By Leah Sicat

March 31, 2013

Dear Sisters,

I have learned, over time, that it’s a man’s world in which some men hate women, some women hate other women, and some women hate themselves.  And, for every 365 affirmations, there are at least thousands of years of documents, wars, and industries bombarding the ether with the otherwise.  I believe in the strength and love women carry – not in the spectacular sense of misogynistic amusement nor the reproductive capacity of binary biochemical relations but in the regenerative and productive politics and possibilities.  Sometimes, the first inclination is to mistrust or deny this power.  However, how often has that been done and to oneself?

I have also known for quite some time that manners are nice, but being polite isn’t always necessary for survival.  Rather, being competent is.  I have been grappling with the idea of competence.  How to see, listen, and feel what is right in front of me?  When to believe it?  To know what is necessary and to do it?

Several weeks ago, I experienced a moment of clarity: Love is my reason; learning is my lifestyle.

It was Tuesday morning, March 19th.  Having just woken up and still laying in bed, in the middle of finals week of the 2nd quarter of my 2nd year, I questioned my place as an Education doctoral student.  I realized that I am not supposed to be here, and I realized that I am supposed to be here.  Then, I remembered that I needed to call my sister and greet her a happy birthday.

This time is of both personal and political significance.  It has been 10 years since the invasion of Iraq, 60years since the armistice halting the Korean War, 115years since the Anti-Imperialist League was founded in protest of the United States’ growing militarized, imperial sprawl into the Asia-Pacific region.  Women and land are neither for exploitation nor invasion.  Decolonization: it has been over 500 years of occupation, over 500 years of struggle. And, we won’t stop.

I would like to pause on the idea of war.  War affects education not only through budget cuts but also in terms of curriculum and actions.  Speak or stay silent?  Act or acquiesce? New mappings and alliances within and across nation-state borders and academic disciplines, then, become necessary.  We open up possibilities for alliances with peoples addressing indigeneity, misogyny, coloniality, racism, and violence.

In my work, I explore regenerative ideas and tools to uncover stories that have been structurally and historically silenced by heteronormative, misogynistic, and colonial narratives. As an education researcher-in-apprenticeship, part of this process includes reflecting on what I value in relationships and how values ground my movements. The move toward values was not only a step toward ethics but also methodologies – ones that value voice over further violence and fetishization.

At the same time, what are the possibilities of decolonization from within the belly of the beast?

Lately I’ve been thinking about love.  I still believe in its regenerative capabilities in healing the many effects of colonial violence.  I still believe in the possibilities of decolonial love.

Grappling with what the layers and temporalities of love might feel like, I’m drawn to the idea of waves.  Of feeling and pulses washing over me.  Feeling an urgency to connect.  I think about communion.  Not the kind when I wore a white dress in 2nd grade for a church ritual, either.  I’m talking about the communion I feel when I share a poem.  It’s that moment and that process and that feeling when I’m calm but focused, vulnerable yet strong, fierce, open, and ready.  When my whole being, starting from the crown of my head, feels bright.  When my heart feels warm.  When my eyes feel open and emanating with light.  When I feel free and know no fear.  When I know that I’m on my own, standing with others but not alone.  It’s the conviction that one’s freedom from cannot be at the expense of someone’s freedom to and freedom as.

The Ivory Tower is cold, I’ve been told.  And, it is.  Knowledge for sale.  People as discrete chunks for analysis.  But, we are not cold specimens nor coded anecdotes.  If we objectify and fetishize each other and our stories, we risk the danger and violence of not seeing each other as human beings.  However, I have learned to believe in people again – or, at least, certain people – when we took the risk of choosing love as our hermeneutic, our lens, for not just our work, our relationships, our research, but our selves.



Leah Kabigting Sicat is a Pilipina American educator, writer, and feminist.  She is currently a Ph.D. student in Education at UC Santa Cruz with a focus on critical pedagogy, transnational feminism, and decoloniality. Her sites of inquiry are within and around the Philippines and South Korea.