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I'm Proud To Be a Woman

Marlene riding a rocking horse outside
Me and my mom when I was little.

I come from a family of strong, independent women. My maternal grandmother was a teacher in the Philippines about 80 or so years ago during a time when most women didn't have careers outside the home. Despite only being four-years-old when she moved back to the Philippines and seven-years-old when she passed away, I have memories of watching the People's Court with her and being told that she wanted me to become a judge. It's hilarious to think about that now because I didn't come close to taking that career path, but she instilled this level of ambition onto my mom and my aunt and in turn, to my sisters and I. We all have feisty, "take no bullshit" personalities that we got from my grandma.

I am the type of woman who has no tolerance for sexist, misogynistic behaviour or remarks. Even though I'm a generally quiet person, I will usually speak up when someone is being sexist or if I feel like I'm being spoken down to because I'm a woman. For instance, a few years back I got quite upset when one of my personal support workers said: "women can't be managers." I ended up telling her how sexist I thought the comment was and told her I was offended by it because not only do I know many women who have taken manager-type positions, my sister has run her own business for several years. I feel like comments like these have no place in our world today.

I've stated in the past that I identify myself as a female before anything, including being disabled. It might sound strange, but the reason why I feel this way is that I believe that the root behind everything I am as a person and my beliefs come from being a woman. This might not be a popular opinion amongst disabled people, but I truly believe that before we can discuss full equality for disabled people, we need to fix the inequality problems within other groups, particularly women. The way I see it is that women have been fighting for basic equality rights (i.e. free speech, the right to vote, equal pay, etc.) for hundreds of years and it's still far from perfect. If we can't get things right for women, how can anyone expect equal rights for people with disabilities? Don't get me wrong, I fully support equality for disabled people, but we need to start from the bottom and work our way up to that first.

Marlene as a baby with her sisters.
Me with my sisters Katherine and Mary.

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