You know the stereotypical simple girl. You probably adore her. She’s the girl who wears her conservatism like a badge, who won’t be caught dead baring cleavage or pulling her skirt up just a little higher to show more leg above the knee. She’s soft-spoken, mahinhin, and will only order a dainty cocktail while you and your bros knock back one beer after another, lost in a haze of smoke and usapang lasing. When one of your buddies drunkenly taunts the other, “Bakla ka ba?,” she will only smile serenely, maybe even laugh demurely along. She will never correct misogynistic behavior or aggressively speak her mind, because that’s not what simple girls do. Simple girls are yes girls. They’re low-maintenance, sweet, and magaan kasama. They’re the ones you’ve been raised to believe are girlfriend and wife material.
Then there are the girls—the women—who raise hell, and who do it with pride. They pose for sexy photo shoots, ironically taking complete ownership of their bodies and their identity in the process of giving you a peek of underboob or a glimpse of their naked butt. You’ve seen them on the pages of FHM and on this website: sensual, sexually woke women who claim what they want to do with their bodies and give zero f*cks about whether or not you think they fit the criteria of a simple girl, or its close relative, the dalagang Filpina. You’ve read about them online: the most recent example being Beauty and the Beast star Emma Watson, who was lambasted for promoting feminism while showing her breasts on Vanity Fair, as if the two were ever mutually exclusive. “It just reveals to me how many misconceptions and what a misunderstanding there is about what feminism is,” she shot back at critics. “Feminism is about giving women choice. Feminism is not a stick with which to beat other women with. It’s about freedom, it’s about liberation, it’s about equality. I really don’t know what my t*ts have to do with it.”
Then there are the women who won’t take any amount of B.S. from anyone, the ones people have taken to calling bra burners or KSP or “masyadong maraming alam.” If being a “simple” girl means being simple-minded, these women are anything but. Their minds are open and intricate, their will strong and audacious, and their voices loud and unwavering. They’re the ones who don’t tolerate careless behavior when it comes to gender equality and gender sensitivity, even from—especially from—the men they’ve built relationships with. They are bold and wild and free, and they fight for the right of every woman in the world to be so.
They’re the ones who won’t change out of a crop top and a short skirt just because it makes their boyfriends or husbands uncomfortable and insecure, because it might tempt other men or attract too much attention or make them susceptible to catcalling and leering from strangers on the street. On the other end of the spectrum though, they’re also the ones who won’t wear a crop top or a short skirt just to pander to the male gaze, because maybe covering up makes them feel the most like themselves, which is what should matter most. Because they know that the amount of skin they show doesn’t dictate the kind of women, or human beings, they are.
The simple girl, when you define it as a woman who never challenges male privilege and the box it so adamantly wants to confine her into, is a severely outdated standard for the kind of woman who deserves your love and respect. Let women be complex. Let them be confident, strong, brave, independent, interesting, expressive, and empowered. Let them—whether they’re your girlfriends, wives, sisters, friends, or daughters—be whoever they want to be. It’s way more fun for everyone.