Walang Hiya: On Sexuality and Shame
via Tagalog Dictionary
I’m sure most (if not all) Filipinx/Americans are familiar with the word hiya. The direct translationis shame. Disgrace. Embarrassment. Then there is mahiyain = shy/bashful. Hiyain = to embarrass/shame someone. And walang hiya = no shame. No respect. To be cruel, rude, inappropriate, and despicable. I’ve had walang hiya thrown at me by my angry parents. I’ve heard other Filipinx/Americans remark on a womxn’s lack of hiya if she was showing too much skin. Learned that someone was walang hiya if they engaged in premarital sex and explored their bodies at an early age. My friend Kristin already touched on the concept of hiya in her blog post, but I thought I would take the time to further explore the topic. I have read many stories and articles about hiya, but I have yet to look at it from the perspective of Filipina sexuality. I touched briefly on it in my college thesis, “Redefining the Dalaga: The Representation and Transformation of Filipina Sexuality in Literature,” and explored howhiya contributed to the suppression of Filipina sexuality, to the disorientation, disconnect, and dislike we feel towards our bodies. I am thinking about how hiya has affected me personally. How has it contributed and altered my perception of myself? Of my body? Of my sexuality and romantic relationships? How is hiya manifested in my daily experiences?
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