Words by Marilou Lorzano
One troubling reality that I am constantly reminded of as I grow older is that women will have no place in a male-dominated society—but that is what they say, and I believe otherwise.
I have lost count of how many times society yells a scream of bigotry, hatred, and disrespect at me for being a woman. It is as though I have committed a grave sin by having no control over being born with a gender that most people look down on.
Growing up, I was conditioned by the people around me that women are always expected to submit themselves to men and that my value as a woman only revolves around motherhood. This has been what haunts me every time I feel like resisting from the shackles that bind me. The feeling of frustration goes over the moon—no one is willing to listen, and no one wants to hear a word from a “mere” woman.
“Babae ka lang”, was what society tried to instill in me. It eventually became a whisper working to build fear inside of me. This phrase’s uncanny sound followed me everywhere I went—at home, at school, and even inside the church. I became exhausted from trying to remove the loud ringing within my ears, so I succumbed to its sound and gradually resonated with it.
The faint fire within me to carry on the struggle that we, as women, have been fighting for so long has finally died. It was after I have fallen victim to numerous sexual harassment and was repeatedly blamed for it. The fight had left me, and this is the very fear I still carry with me until now.
But as cliché as it may sound, the fire that had been doused has been rekindled. The place in which I grew up may have trampled and fooled me once, but falling for it twice is impossible. I also realized that despite the fact that we are largely dominated by men, there are still women who will fight for the rights of every woman, no matter how long it takes. This became a defining moment for me. It somehow reminded me that even though a voice is stifled, it still produces sound, especially when joined with other voices that cry desperately even while restrained.
The likes of Senator Leila De Lima, Reina Mae Nasino, Amanda Lacaba Echanis, daughter of slain activist Randall “Ka Randy Echanis”, and other women political prisoners demonstrate how, in a male-dominated niche—politics, in particular—progressive women are viewed as a threat to men’s fragile masculinity.
We are progressively claiming the title that women have made significant contributions to and have been a part of our history, far from what society has deemed us to be. We do not exist just to behold men. We do not exist just to bear a child. Most of all, we do not exist just to be objectified. We exist to illustrate that women can also do the things any man can do. We have long been breaking the fragile glass of gender division, proving that roles cannot define what women can or cannot do.
Everything could have been in place if the world we live in tried to open its eyes to the truth that women have so much to offer to the world. Our femininity in nature is not what genuinely characterizes us, and this is what we have been trying to tell the world—that our physical appearance does not limit us from what we are capable of doing.
In fact, women have been starting to establish their name in fields where men have largely taken space. We are not to be confined in a high-walled house, struggling to sit a crying baby with our shirts hanging loose, unkempt hair all over our faces, and sweat dripping down our bodies. We are also meant to excel in sports, STEM, academe, and even politics.
The incessant prejudice being thrown at us becomes our driving force to even prove ourselves, and there will come a time when our society will one day learn how to eliminate the double standards imposed on women, and to treat us equally as how they have embraced men for their nature.
And just like the saying goes,“Babae ka, hindi babae lang.” [P]