Although I wrote this on International Women’s Day last year, I’m posting it on Valentine’s Day. Today, many men go to great lengths to please their woman. Thank you! Women are not high maintenance. If you can see how much a woman’s heart carries and the things that fills her mind, you will understand why they deserve to be loved and adored not only on this day. Women carry a bigger world on their shoulders and juggle too many roles with their two hands. They get tired but they press on. Because that’s how a woman loves. Take the time to know what the women in your lives really want.
Do I know what women really want? Who ever does? But I thought a twist to a Mel Gibson movie title would be catchy. What I’d really want to share are my thoughts on what asking for gender equality really means.
When we ask for equality for women, what we really mean to ask is Freedom. Freedom from violence, from domestic abuse, from workplace harassment, from rape, from fear of walking alone or traveling solo in places where men typically don’t feel fear. Freedom from abuse, physical or otherwise. Freedom from human trafficking, forced prostitution, sexual slavery and all other forms of gender-specific violence. #VAW
Freedom from unnecessary gender-oriented pain, like female genital mutilation (circumcision) . And no, it can’t be justified by religion, tradition, culture or a “similar” practice for men. #FGM
Freedom to be born and to live, even if we happen to be girls. Freedom from sex-selective abortion and infanticide. #gendercide
Freedom to choose who and when to marry. Freedom to say yes or no to our life partners. Freedom from child marriage, forced or arranged marriage. Freedom from being sold to marriage. #childmarriage #childbrides
Freedom to choose among many life options normally accorded to men, basic but essential life choices. Freedom to choose for our education and career. Freedom to choose a male-dominated course without being the discriminated minority in the class. Freedom to succeed in a male-dominated workforce. Heck, just freedom from gender-selective compensation programs, i.e. fair and equal pay for women! Freedom to choose whether to be a working mom or stay-at-home mom, without having to prove that one is better than the other. #equalpayrights #womenintheworkforce
Freedom to succeed and to break away from the shadow of men. To be recognized for our own unique greatness. To be called intelligent and not to be described as “having a man’s brain” (yes, sadly, I heard this from 2 American senior executives). To be encouraged to use our female instincts and not to be told to “think like a man” to win (yep, also heard this).
Freedom from Size 0, Coke bottle shapes, supermodel standards, photo-shopped cover girl expectations. That we’re beautiful in whatever form or size we come in. That we’re not solely our boobs and our butts, we’re also our brain and our character.
Freedom from age-old stereotypes and labels, double standards and social stigma. That we’re not bitchy when we’re just being confident and assertive at work “like men”. That we’re not nagging when we ask more questions. That we’re not selfish when we decide to not have kids or to be working moms. That we’re not high maintenance just because we like certain things more than men do or we simply like to look impeccable. That we’re simply not dismissed as “babae kasi”. That we’re not subordinate to our husbands just because they happen to be the breadwinner (seen this, too). That we’re not whores when we’re raped (that no woman “deserves” to be raped or abused).
Freedom from gender-discriminating laws. That we’re not mandated by laws on decisions involving our own body. That we decide whether we breastfeed or not, and no law should force us to do so.
Freedom to be a woman, to embrace our uniqueness, our inner goddess. To enjoy being a woman (hormones and all), and never to feel sorry that we are.
When we ask for equality for women, we don’t really ask to be treated like men. We ask that we are simply given access to basic human rights and respect, just like men. That we are not restricted to options just because we are a woman.
//I wrote this in observance of International Women’s Day 2014. IWD is an annual event that is dear to my heart, more than Mother’s Day if I may boldly claim. Am I a feminist? I’d like to think I’m a women’s advocate who is raising a mighty girl and wants to make a better world for her daughter.