Respecting a person, regardless of their gender and sexual orientation, should be common sense. Sadly, not everyone knows this, especially when they’re talking to a woman.
Women worldwide experience some form of discrimination and harassment in the workplace all the time. A McKinsey study in 2018 found that 64 percent of women experience microaggressions like being mistaken for a junior employee, while 35 percent are sexually harassed in the office. Men also look down on female employees because of their gender. What happened to equality, people?
This was also the main topic during San Mig Light’s latest edition of Mahaba-habang Usapan, and a lot of stereotypes imposed on women were mentioned during the roundtable discussion. Let’s debunk and unpack some of them, shall we? I have to warn you though, these assumptions might make you mad.
If a woman is in a male-dominated space, she’s there because of a man
Ceej Tantengco said she experiences sexism all the time, especially since she’s covering male-dominated sports as a courtside reporter. “I’ve been working in sports for the past five years and no matter how long I’ve been working in the industry, no matter how packed my resumé gets, people are actually surprised to know that I know what I was doing,” she said. “Sometimes I get mistaken for a girlfriend of a player.” When she says no, the people around her would still insist she has a crush on someone in the team.
Listen, guys, this might sound crazy, but women can actually work in such spaces. They’re not there just to hunt for a potential partner.
You are unsafe if a woman is a manning a vehicle
True story: I heard a taxi driver getting mad at a woman’s driving because she changed lanes on the highway. “Ah, babae kasi,” he said, implying that only a female driver would cause such an inconvenience.
Pilot Chezka Gonzales-Garrido told a similar story. “Yung mga passengers, tatanungin, ‘Safe ba tayo diyan? Kasi babae.'” (The passengers would ask, “Is it safe? Because [the pilot] is a woman.”) Wow.
Being a woman isn’t a measure for one’s ability to drive any vehicle. You don’t hear us saying, “Ah, lalaki kasi” when a guy recklessly zooms off in the middle of traffic. Remember two things: 1) Don’t underestimate women’s abilities and 2) If you’re going to criticize someone, base it on their performance and not their gender.
Women are too emotional to work
There’s this notion that men are better workers because they’re more rational and analytical, while women are more emotional. This is a situation that Atty. Alex Castro faces whenever she’s meeting with a client. “For example, pag nakita nilang babae yung assigned lawyer. Paminsan makikita mo na may doubt pa sila na parang, ‘Kaya ba niya ‘to? Hindi ba siya masyadong emotional, masyadong mabait, or incompetent?'” (For example, when they see that their assigned lawyer is female. Sometimes you’ll see they’re doubting, like, “Can she do this? Isn’t she too emotional, too nice, or incompetent?”)
Meanwhile, when a man is getting emotional, they’re seen as strong and “showing their true selves.” In other cases, they’re also seen as weak. Bottomline: Emotions in both genders shouldn’t define their strength because it’s a normal, human thing to experience.
The end goal for women is to get married
Alex noted, “[They believe that] eventually, the real plan is to get married, to have kids, and to stop practicing law.” This isn’t just exclusive to lawyers. Chezka also shared how some airlines won’t hire female pilots because they eventually get pregnant and take maternity leaves, which is allegedly bad for business. They basically think that having a female employee for 100-plus days is a waste of labor. Ugh.
Women aren’t exclusively homemakers or baby makers. If they want to be a housewife in the future, they’re free to do so. But it’s not something that society should impose on every woman, especially who are passionate about their careers. And if a woman does decide to give birth, you shouldn’t look at them like liabilities.
Not true. Men shouldn’t assume they’re better than a woman in a certain field. What’s even more frustrating is when they start “mansplaining” (the act of explaining things to a woman in a condescending manner) to get their point across. Ceej shared that she’s experienced this on the job once when she was talking to a man who about a difference in opinion. Instead of agreeing to disagree, he told her, “Sweetie, you don’t know much about basketball.” (First of all: “Sweetie”? Ew.)
We’re giving guys the benefit of the doubt here because some of them may be clueless if they’re mansplaining or not. Mary Dorothy Jose, Assistant Professor of History from the Department of Social Science at UP Manila, said some of her male friends constantly check themselves and make sure they were asked about something. Tell your male friends to do the same, but don’t remind them constantly because the burden shouldn’t be on us to do so.
If you want a more straightforward call-out, quote designer and Grrrl Gang founder Mich Dulce: “Unless I ask for your opinion, don’t tell us what to do!” Because mansplaining is not only annoying, it’s also undermining a woman and it causes us to feel like we’re not good enough.
Women only get to the top because of sexual favors
Women are just as hardworking as men, and we don’t need to flirt our way to the top. Mary Dorothy said that because men are always CEOs and there’s a glass ceiling in the corporate world, society believes women need to do sexual favors to achieve the same success. Men? They always get the CEO position through hard work—women don’t get the same opportunities even when they exert the same effort.
“Isn’t my hard work enough? You know, the work that I do. Isn’t that enough?” Mich said. Exactly!
Women who report sexual harassment cases in the workplace have an agenda
It’s infuriating when women are told they’re lying about being sexually harassed because it takes courage to talk about it in the first place. When they accuse a co-worker, Alex said the common reaction is the woman is “overly dramatic, very emotional,” and they want to destroy someone’s reputation by making a scene.
Mary Dorothy also emphasized the sad reality that women don’t report because they’re either scared of losing their job, or nobody will believe them. Instead of placing the burden on the women, workplaces should protect them and men should stop sexually harassing their co-workers. Is that too much to ask?
Art by Marian Hukom
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