These days, we have a lot of Filipinas from different fields—from politics to entertainment and everything in between—who we can look up to. Moreover, Filipinas can vote, drive, get an education, pursue different goals and careers, and choose their own spouses. Some people think this means that sexism in the country is over and that gender equality has finally been achieved. Studies would say this is so; the World Economic Forum (WEF)'s Global Gender Gap Report 2016 says that the Philippines is the world’s seventh most gender-equal society among 144 economies and number one in the Asia-Pacific region.
But if we look closely at how people think about women, what they say about us, and what they expect us to be like, we can see that misogyny remains a sad reality that holds us back and limits not just what we can do but also how we are viewed and how we should behave.
Misogyny is defined by Merriam-Webster simply as "a hatred of women," but the concept is more complex than that. Misogyny doesn't just involve a person saying "I hate women and girls." It also shows in what people say about how a girl should look, behave, wear, and think, no matter how innocent or well-meaning they intend it to be. It manifests in insidious ways that might seem like irrefutable beliefs, but which actually should be challenged—and we witness such behavior practically on a daily basis.
Misogyny is defined by Merriam-Webster simply as "a hatred of women," but the concept is more complex than that.
Here are some everyday examples of misogynistic thinking and remarks that you might have encountered in the company of friends and family or even in public spaces, and how you can handle them.
Assuming that you won't understand or that you're bad at something because you're a girl.
Fields such as engineering and science are generally thought of as the domain of men, and people consider that there are only some occupations and hobbies are more 'appropriate' for women. This attitude even extends to everyday situations. "Babae kasi eh," some people would sneer if they see a car being driven slowly or less aggressively.
Handle this by: Pursuing your interests and goals—and excel at them for your personal fulfillment. Also, refrain from making comments that suggest that women have to be in "their proper place."
Holding women to very high standards of behavior.
Women are expected to be much more courteous, polite, calm, well mannered, and morally upright than men. That shouldn't sound like a bad thing at all, but the consequences are pretty severe if a woman makes a mistake and fails to meet such expectations—and then she ends up being more vilified than necessary. A study by Mary-Hunter McDonnell, an organizational sociologist at the Wharton school at the University of Pennsylvania, found that women lawyers were punished more severely than male lawyers for the same infractions. "Kababae mong tao, bakit ka ganyan?" is a harmful idea that puts unnecessary pressure and doesn't allow women to be human while letting men get away with their mistakes.
"Kababae mong tao, bakit ka ganyan?" is a harmful idea that puts unnecessary pressure and doesn't allow women to be human while letting men get away with their mistakes.
Handle this by: Knowing that women behave differently, have varying experiences, and make different choices, and accepting that mistakes will be made—without judging each other for them.
Praising one type of girl while tearing another one down.
Some people say they like simple, conservative girls, while others say they like girls who are more fun and adventurous—and they end up criticizing the girls who don't fit the image they prefer as well as the ones who fit neither. Either way, doing so reduces girls to mere stereotypes that we're under pressure to conform to, and it pits girls against each other, too.
Handle this by: Being whatever kind of girl that you want to be, and recognize that there are other girls who are different from you—and that it's not a bad thing at all.
Recognize that there are other girls who are different from you—and that it's not a bad thing at all.
Telling girls to accept bad behavior from guys because "boys will be boys."
A lot of guys' bad behavior, such as catcalling, sexual harassment, and teasing, are just ultimately telling girls that what they feel about the shoddy ways guys treat them doesn't matter and that it's normal for guys to be jerks.
Handle this by: Knowing what you will not put up with from guys and putting your foot down if they step out of line.
Telling girls how they should look and behave just to attract guys.
It's normal to want to look your best to catch the eye of someone you like, but you shouldn't change the way you are just for a shot at winning his heart. Your life goal is not just to get the boy or to look good for boys, after all.
Handle this by: Simply being happy with yourself and knowing that you don't exist to be eye candy for boys.
Misogyny isn't the easiest enemy to combat because it's pretty commonplace and even ingrained in our minds; even women are guilty of being misogynistic toward themselves and other women. But recognizing such behavior—and being able to call it out or change it—is a good step toward eliminating it and will help us become better able to stand up for ourselves—and other women.
How do you handle misogyny in your life? Share your experiences with other empowered Candy Girls like yourself in the comments!