Pia Besmonte, a 2011 Global Undergraduate Exchange Scholar alumna, released her first poem anthology entitled “Manic Pixie, Depressive Gremlin” at the PAEF office last Thursday, August 18.
As a Global Undergraduate Exchange scholar in 2011, she got accepted into Barnard College, a liberal arts college for women in New York. It was also through her American studies that she was admitted into a writing fellowship, enhancing her literary skills. She was mentored by Ninotchka Rosca, a feminist, author and human rights activist, during her internship in the U.S. She graduated from the Philippine Normal University with a degree in Literature.
On August 18, Pia prefaced her poetry reading by sharing: “On a personal level, I had to write something for girls like me, something I couldn’t find on the bookshelves but that I think I need. There are not very many books in the Philippines for adolescent girls and young women that discuss experiences that we go through, from PMS to body issues and even street harassment and rape,” Besmonte continued, “so I wrote my book to tell girls and young women that their experiences are normal, and that we all go through them together…that there is no ultimate standard of beauty, of being acceptable or attractive, of being a woman in the world. We are all beautiful, strong, flawed, and in repair.”
According to the author, the title of the book stemmed from the term “Manic Pixie Dream Girl” coined by Nathan Rabin on women being portrayed in films as bubbly, shallow creatures who only serve men to be happy.
She explained: “We see girls going through physical bodily changes and shame or sexualize them for it. We see them struggling with their emotions, sometimes online, and we make fun of them for it. We see girls romanticizing and sexualizing themselves to be attractive to boys, and instead of seeing that they merely mimic what their idols such as Taylor Swift and Kim Kardashian do, we get angry at them.”
Pia told her audience that the book is dedicated “to girls, whose contradictions are beautiful.” She advised people to help troubled teen girls online who have been greatly affected by inaccurate media representations of themselves. “When you see a young teenager, an adolescent woman who’s struggling, guide them instead of guiltying them; supporting them instead of shaming them. Listen to their stories because a lot of people here listened to mine and it turned out really well,” she said.
Present during the event were PAEF Board Chairperson and Public Affairs Counselor, US Embassy Manila Carolyn Glassman, Fulbright alumni, students and faculty from the Philippine Normal University, friends and members of the Besmonte family, other guests and the PAEF Secretariat.
Her book priced at Php300.00 can be ordered by completing this form: ttps://goo.gl/forms/WBfcLx41WCsxQvLw1.