Order in the Court!
Photo by Garel Sison
Chaotic chatter engulfed the entire courtroom as an irritated voice bellowed out, “Order in the Court!” acting as a mute button. It was Judge, sitting tall and regal on his throne as his ivory crown of curls perched peacefully on his head. He signaled the prosecutor to begin his yapping and deliberately welcomed loose discord for the umpteenth time that day.
“As we all know, the Law of Stereotype states that as a member of society, each individual is subjected to a pre-determined title and backstory if they happen to act a certain way or display a certain characteristic. With that said, I call the accused to the stand!”
A resentful-looking figure stood up and shuffled to the front, shadowy beads narrowed bitterly at the one who summoned her.
“Miss Deffinne Dant, am I correct in saying that you refuse to accept and use the official titles given to you by society despite you clearly displaying and possessing the attributes present within those titles? Therefore you are knowingly breaking the Law of Stereotype, a law so embedded in the foundation of today’s society, correct?” claimed the prosecutor.
With aggravation painted on her face and an expression that screamed: triggered, the accused replied: “Well technically yes, but –“
“Ah! And there we have it! She admitted, she agreed, case closed! Man, I’m good!”
“I wasn’t finished! I have a reason why I haven’t been using the so-called official titles!” she exclaimed, “Your honor, if I may explain?”
Barely paying attention, Judge threw a nonchalant wave of approval.
Deffinne took in a determined breath of courtroom air and began whole-heartedly, “First and foremost – NONE of these titles are anywhere near accurate summaries of who I am as a person!”
The prosecutor rolled his eyes as if to say: here we go again.
“Yes, I often wear crop tops and ripped shorts. Yes, I often show my legs and arms and occasionally a raunchy bit of collarbone, but that doesn’t make me deserving, or anyone else for that matter, of being labeled as a floozy or any other variation of the word. Nor does it automatically mean I sleep around. I wear what I wear because it’s in style, because it’s Philippine weather-appropriate and because I feel and look good in it. None of my reasons make me qualified for such a title.
I have my fair share of tattoos, different designs that depict different stories. And because of this I am awarded the title of rebel. But did anyone stop to think that maybe my tattoos are a means for me to connect with my heritage? In the days before the Spanish and the Americans came waltzing in, native Filipino women were graced in tattoos. Their tattoos depicted their beauty, their self-expression, their fertility, yet today, I am labeled rebel and assumed to be irresponsible for merely wanting to express the essence of who I am on my own skin.
As for the assumption that I am lazy, irresponsible and as the ticket issued to me stated: walang future. I say: if only you knew. I will admit, I may occasionally hit snooze more times than I should and I may every now and then stumble into class looking like I came from an alcohol-drenched bachelorette party the night before, but I’m proud of those habits! Because I know WHY they occur! I spend my nights at the local 24-hour Jollibee to make ends meet, serving Chicken Joy – spicy and not spicy whilst sneaking in a quick review for my 7:30 a. m. class. I abuse that snooze button not because I am for domestic violence, but because maybe giving myself just 10 more minutes of sleep might increase my chances of staying awake during the 2 hour lecture later in the afternoon. So why have I become nothing but a title that gives me no justice?”
Glancing a sneaky peak at his watch, the prosecutor sighed. Eleven-fifty. Better get this one locked up in time for lunch.
“Miss Dant, I hear you and you tell a moving story. But the law is the law. And you broke it! Therefore, you should be found guilty of refusing to use the official titles vested upon you by society! Judge, your verdict?”
With a sigh, Judge announced: “GUILTY! Like the rest of ‘em.”
The courtroom became an inferno.
“No! You very clearly did not hear me! I refuse to accept these titles because they are not true!” a flaming Deffinne Dant thundered.
As he inspected the crack in his nail, the prosecutor calmly countered: “Whether or not it is true hardly matters. Society has decided. You act that way and you look that way – therefore you are exactly what the label they give you describes. Now, run along into those pretty handcuffs so we can all move on with our lives.”
The dams let loose, and water came trickling down her outraged face. “No way! No! This can’t be happening! I did nothing wrong! I’m innocent!” the accused cried hopelessly. “This has to be a dream! Arrested for not succumbing to a fabrication? Ridiculous!”
A monster appeared beside her and presented her with silver coated bangles, one for each wrist, delicately joint together on the inner side.
Deffinne Dant closed her eyes with vigor and determinedly repeated to no one in particular, “I wish this wasn’t true! I wish it changed! I wish this wasn’t true! I wish it changed!”
“Keep telling yourself that, honey. Click your heels together too, you might end up back in Kansas.”
There was chaotic chatter once again as the subjugated woman was lead out the doors. Judge then bellowed to the courtroom: “Order in the Court! We shall commence with the next an hour after lunch. Let’s just hope it won’t be as loud. Shame, Deffinne Dant would have made a good lawyer.”