Hardwiring gender parity (2)
In physiology, hardwiring is the process of making a practice or belief become instinctive in an individual—turning it into a habit, a regular feature, or a function of one’s thinking or behavioral traits. Hardwiring gender parity means that the practice of gender fairness in everything we do will become second nature to all of us, women, men and other gender identities included. If this becomes a habit, every day is a day to honor women and their contributions to society; the practice or celebration of women’s day should not be limited to one day only (March 8). When gender fairness is hardwired into our social and political systems, we don’t even have to remind everyone through messages on huge tarpaulins or streamers that we “make change work for women” or that “women make change.”
And legislators didn’t have to pass laws like Republic Act No. 11313 or the Safe Spaces Act, the law that defines “gender-based sexual harassment in streets, public spaces, online, workplaces, and educational or training institutions, providing protective measures and prescribing penalties therefor.” We don’t have to campaign vociferously against the commodification of women as sex objects in both social and mainstream media, especially in movies and television dramas. Teachers do not need to instill among their students that gender roles are not rigid dichotomies of male and female sets of expected behaviors and tasks; where men are seen as the default breadwinner and the women as the “natural” keepers of the hearth and home. Parents do not have to repeatedly teach their children that household chores are a joint responsibility of both sons and daughters. RA 11313 is popularly known in the Philippines as the anti-bastos law — it prohibits degrading, upsetting, and sexually suggestive acts and remarks against women and other gender identities. “Bastos” is the Filipino catchword to refer to actions or words that are downright insulting, repulsive, and revolting against women. It was signed into law on April 17, 2019, by the current president, known far and wide for his “standard” misogynistic remarks, open sexual misdemeanors and foul words that seem to be hardwired into his thinking and behavioral systems. We can’t help but wonder how his rather compromising behavior toward his female kasambahay during his latest birthday celebration qualify as a blatant violation of the law that he himself approved almost two years ago.
Unfortunately, patriarchy, or the practice of valuing the contributions of men, still prevails and seems to be hardwired in many peoples’ minds, even among some women. Some women leaders, both in politics and in the academe, are even more “macho” than their male counterparts. As an academician for more than four decades of my life, I have known many macho-type women heads of offices or departments who were highly controlling and unforgiving of minor disagreements and mistakes of their staff. One of them was particularly scary since she used to dangle the sword of contract termination over the heads of untenured faculty members when they dared to question or argue with her wishes, disguised as “policies.” At one time, she told a junior faculty member, “I cannot forget what you did, and I know that you don’t have tenure yet.” Indeed, a few months later, that junior colleague was terminated from his teaching post. It was a good thing my junior colleague decided not to take legal action.
The 2020 Global Gender Gap Report of the World Economic Forum has noted that it might take us at least a century to achieve a gender-fair world. This is quite depressing considering the long years of active campaigning for women’s equal rights and eliminating all forms of discrimination against them. Destroying the patriarchal circuits that have been hardwired into our systems is like a quixotic act of fighting against the imaginary windmills of our minds.
But it is good that the journey for hardwiring gender parity has started many years back and continues to this day. There is still hope.
Comments to [email protected]
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.