My mother raised me to believe that the love stories that came out of Hollywood were true. She raised me to expect a knight in shining armor to come and sweep me off my feet and bring me to live in his castle, where he’d take care of me forever.She also raised me by example and her example was one of strength and of doing things independently,quietly, with resolve and inner strength. My mom was simultaneously a hopeless romantic and a ball-buster.
So I carried that around with me, from when I was young into my teen years. I remember that when I was in high school I had a boy classmate who constantly called me a “Nazi lesbian women’s libber.” He wasn’t bullying me because I’d actually laugh at his words and his caricatures of me—dressed in leather with a Nazi hat and an angry face. As an immature teen, I felt like it was a compliment.
Truth be told, I’m not a complete feminist. I don’t agree with abortion and I don’t believe that because it’s my body, it’s my choice, but I do believe that whatever a man can do, a woman can do. As simple as that.
Ironically, I ended up having not one, but two daughters.
The challenge for me was raising them in a country where although the woman is “the light of the home” (ilaw ng tahanan), the man is obeyed, revered even. I’ve known of some men who’ve told women how to dress, allowed her to do things and forbade her to do others.
Some married men are allowed to wander with the “boys will be boys” excuse. Men who sleep around are called “playboy” or “chickboy” like they’re admirable; while women who sleep with more than one man are called names such as “pokpok,” “slut,” “cheap.” I overhead one man remark, “Well, I hope she doesn’t get herself pregnant” as if women are capable of asexual reproduction. Or when asked how many kids they have, they reply the old fart way, “One…that I know of!” (with his friends laughing loudlyas if he made the funniest joke in the world). Like, “Rawr, aren’t I a stud?”
Don’t even get me started on trends likescantily-clad twerking women at political rallies, rape jokes, the DOM President of the Philippines, the DOM President of the United States—let’s just say inequality and misogyny is all around us, now more than ever.
But thankfully, my two daughters won’t take any sh*t from anyone. First of all, I’ve taught them that anything—and I mean anything—a man can do, (except maybe pee standing up) a woman can do, too. I’ve taught them to believe in themselves and be strong, no matter what happens, with or without a man.
I’ve taught them they can play with toy cars the same way they can play with dolls; they don’t need to wear skirts, dresses, or frills to be considered feminine; they can like blue as much as they like pink; they can wear a t-shirt, jeans, and rubber shoes without being judged for looking too masculine.
There is no difference between what is “for boys” and “for girls.” We are equalto men and yes, there are times when we are even better.I’ve taught them all this by example and the things I’ve not been able to show them, they’ve seen for themselves as being true.
I look forward to the day when someone tries to tell my girls that they are of the weaker sex. I have their bail money ready.
Disclaimer: The views expressed here are solely those of the author in her private capacity and do not in any way represent the views of Preen.ph, or any other entity of the Inquirer Group of Companies.