Exploring Identity Outside of Patriarchy

Posted December 2, 2016 from United States
Vietnam market crowds
Vietnam market crowds (1/5)

Traveling through different countries and cultures has opened Goldy's mind to ashared struggle for humanity. In her writing, she embodies eco-feminist ideals and examines gender roles within the patriarchy.

Goldy’s quest for independence and search for global equality was spurred by her supportive and encouraging mother. “She’s helped me become an independent woman and made me feel confident to do that.” When Goldy was just twelve, her father died unexpectedly in a car accident. She has since come to terms with how fleeting life is by following his advice to travel, see the world, and get educated. “He told me, ‘don’t stay in Costa Rica it’s too small. When you are born with privilege, you have to use it for good.”

“So,” she says, “I feel like traveling was a way for me to see the world and be respectful and critical of other cultures.” What inspired her the most about traveling was figuring out her future as a writer.

Since graduating from college, Goldy has traveled to Vietnam, The Philippines, Hong Kong, Cambodia, Japan, and Thailand to get a better understanding of the world around her. She is currently in Tel Aviv, Israel on an extended birthright trip, writing for the Israeli news source Haaretz.

“When I broke up with my ex boyfriend, I knew I was a feminist. In Costa Rica, gender isn’t confronted. It’s accepted as a patriarchy, but I had never heard that word until getting to the states. I accepted a lot of things without giving them necessary thought.” Meeting with fellow gender fluid students at college in the United States helped sculpt a new sense of identity. Finally she was able to gain perspective on the patriarchy that governed her existence. Gender fluidity refers to the quicksilver dynamics of gender identity; the complex associations of cultural norms in men and women are repudiated.

Meeting people who identified similarly, beyond the typical gender binary, opened Goldy up to new perspectives that had been suppressed in Costa Rica, “My education in the US, although a flawed in many ways, was valuable in showing me the importance of safe spaces for discussion where I was able to have an open dialogue about gender for the first time. There are so many things wrong with racial dynamics in Costa Rica, but it’s not systematized like in the states." Goldy’s fresh perspective on gender and racial politics has opened her eyes to other injustices around the world.

She keeps a blog of her travels and updates it constantly, each post a portrait of place. For example, in one post from Ha Long Bay, Vietnam (known for its emerald waters and towering limestone islands), she asks, “How can a country develop but still keep its natural resources intact? How to find a balance between ‘development’ and caring for the environment?” Her post was a remark on how industrialism and tourism have infected the natural beauty of this landmark.

In another post from Hoi An, Vietnam, Goldy takes on a more poetic tone about the matriarchs who come to sell their goods at the market while raising a family, “These are the women who crouch on the sidewalk and sit in plastic chairs, the ones that wave at you to buy their fans, their bananas and pineapples. These are the women who travel miles from their village, carrying their business on their backs (be it fruits, vegetables, souvenirs for tourists) to come into Hoi An. The women who leave children at home and come home every night to feed and bathe their own, the women who wake when the sun rises and sleep when the rest of the house is quiet. The ones that want their children to get an education, the ones that fill the gap when their husbands don’t make enough.”

Throughout her travels, she has seen the hardships and chaos caused by oppressive regimes and genocidal governments. “Cambodia is a country that’s messed up because of how the government is. There were so many children working and so many kids would try to sell you bracelets. It was so heartbreaking and made me realize how much a government can ruin a people. It all goes back to the Khmer Rouge regime and it’s still happening. That was very striking.”

Goldy has also visited countries ruled by fearful capitalist technocracy and capital punishment. “Singapore [appeared] like a utopia it was so perfect. [Yet] people have to give up certain rights, like freedom of speech.” A friend from Singapore told Goldy about how his grandpa wrote a history of a Singapore that was critical of the government; he was arrested and his history book was censored.

Swimming through the “crystal clear lagoons surrounded by limestone” in Coron, The Philippines, Goldy reflected on how these pristine, natural places could exist in the same world as “traffic jammed cities.” “The Philippines was so beautiful. There was something so special about the Philippines – people there don’t have much but live very happily. Everyone greets each other even in the [most populated] cities like Manila.”

Now, centered in Tel Aviv, Israel, Goldy’s writing has taken on a more political tone. She reaches out to her readers in a recent blog post, asking them to question her, to tell her their point of view and engage with her because life in Israel is, “Not at all how the media painted it. Politics crossing swords with identities, stories of oppression, stories of privilege, stories of genocide, stories of diasporas and moving bodies, and the whole world’s convoluted history of regrets, and mistakes after mistakes.”

Goldy’s travels have set her on a path towards enlightenment – helping others through her journeys and discoveries. “In the near future, I want to be more involved in grass roots volunteering. I want to write stories of human interest, and use my writing to bring out stories and voices that aren’t heard. Sexual rights are very important to me and they can often be taboo. I realize how much more I need to travel and learn and see. The past few months I’ve been traveling, there is still so much more I need to learn about life.”

This story was submitted in response to 2016: Looking Back, Moving Forward.

Comments 2

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Yllang Montenegro
May 17, 2017
May 17, 2017

Dear Sycamore_May,

Wow, your article is so beautiful, that I am like watching in national geographic scene while reading.

I my self never been to so many countries but i am reading some issues most especially here in southeast asia, by the way, thank you for appreciating Philippines, yes the country side is really beautiful and clean, but living in urban is different thing.

Thank you for sharing this story, its a great impact and an eye opener to more readers about the issues and realities of every country.

May 20, 2017
May 20, 2017

Thank you so much for your feedback, Yllang. I'm so glad it resonated with you.