MANILA, Philippines – Females have come a long way. For better or worse, they have done their fair share in influencing the planet. If that’s the case, then why write about the state of womanhood in the 21st century? Aren’t we there yet? Sad to say, Beyoncé’s prophecy on “Who run the world?” has yet to become a reality. It may be 2015 but certain stigmas about this gender are alive and present. The Philippines is no exception.
Although we could be considered a matriarchal nation, society still deems females as being bound by tradition. Holding onto the beliefs that this tradition upholds has hindered females of today from achieving their full potential. Before they were born, before their mothers were born — this nation had already decided on a mold for them. It goes: petite, nurturing, conservative, family-oriented and the like. If you have all of these qualities then you are “It.” You’re the ultimate Filipina. But is this the only “It” there is?
Let’s take our cue from Blondie and play a game of Picture This. Picture an officer of the law. What gender is she, or rather, he? Picture an engineer. Man or woman? Let’s try for something smaller. Picture a tricycle driver. What sex? Now, picture your future president. Same question phrased as a statement. Being a bit of a smartass, you might’ve answered female, woman, or other variations. But would you really answer the same thing if the context were different?
Seeing these jobs being taken by someone other than a male is a rarity for the most part. Honestly, few would have a female or other variations of such as their first thought when imagining someone as an engineer or officer of the law. No one dreams of being a tricycle driver, sure, but would you readily imagine that person to be a female, a woman? Not exactly, right? And as for women running this nation, it’s only happened twice. You know what the problem is there? It’s only happened twice.
In this nation’s defense, it’s not like we downgrade women much as they do in other parts of the world. Two commercials are a great example of this: Pantene’s “Whip It” campaign and Nestlé’s “Women’s Month” campaign of 2015. They portray the power that a woman is capable of. With Pantene’s campaign, they showed the trials that women have to go through due to double standards. With Nestlé, they used this country’s statistical data to show how women are valued in this country. Great! What’s the problem then? One word: motherhood.
Both ads show how a woman is trying to balance their work while raising a child. Nestlé explored this more by showing a woman (or as they say, a “superwoman”) working her routine. They show many stereotypes about the gender. A woman prioritizing her children and husband is one of many. There is nothing wrong with being family-oriented. What’s wrong is that you can’t separate the concept of a woman being strong without motherhood. It’s not like it’s a lie. Mothers are among the strongest people out there. It’s just that our society would rarely associate a strong woman apart from being a mother.
Well, maybe they would with a beauty queen or an OFW domestic helper of some sorts, as we are represented outside of this country. There is nothing wrong with women that are these things. There is nothing wrong with all the types mentioned earlier. It’s just that not all women are about that life.
Women are more than their beauty, love and tender care. When we think of women, especially here, we associate them with softness. Going with the local lingo, the words mayumi and mahinhin are adjectives associated with females. Those words pertain to femininity or rather the softness and grace of a woman. If women go beyond these words, however, they are dubbed bitchy or frigid. Are these definitions the only “it” available for us? Are we only limited to two possibilities?
Our complexities could put a diamond’s myriad angles to shame. We can be kind, ruthless, soft, rugged, out there or not at all. We know what we want, sometimes not at all. Some want to rule the world, some want to just stay at home with the family that they have, maybe even both. We are a lot of things. We are capable of so many things. We are so much more than what is expected of us. So why are we so caged by these outdated ideals in the first place?
If you’re going to take advice from a fictional character, Agent Peggy Carter gets the job done. (Spoiler alert!) Take her groundbreaking statement in the season finale of Agent Carter to heart: “I know my value. Anyone else’s opinion doesn’t really matter.” This could apply to anyone really, but sorry folks, this one’s for the ladies. They are in need of this. Be a Peggy and know your worth. There’s nothing wrong with embracing the mold given to you. If this is the “It” that you want, who are we to stop you? But there is absolutely nothing wrong if your “It” and society’s “It” are not a perfect fit. Don’t let expectations, tradition, society, or anything else get in your way of reaching your potential. Whatever your “It” is, if this constrains you — shatter it mercilessly. It doesn’t matter if you’re the meek type who’d rather not or the rebellious type who’d definitely rather. No one should hinder you from getting where you need to be.