Roles we were born to play | Inquirer Opinion
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Roles we were born to play

/ 02:44 AM November 13, 2014

When I was five, I was told that I couldn’t play with dolls because I was a boy. When I was seven, my classmates teased me because most of my friends were girls. When I was 10, boys in the neighborhood bullied me because I was soft and insecure. When I was 12, people told me I shouldn’t cry so easily because it was unmanly.

Ever since I was little, I have heard people talk about women and girls being victims of sexism. It wasn’t until early this year that I realized that I am also trapped in the same narrow-mindedness of society.

Because we think that boys who show their emotions are weak. Because we believe that boys should be athletic.

Because we see men who dress like women as jokes. Because we make fun of guys who are hurt by women. Because we have an ideal body for the perfect man. Because in our mind there is a standard of what a man must be.


Because society believes that men were born to play a certain role and they must act a certain way and must do things the “manly” way.

Men are strong, men are tough, and anyone who acts otherwise is unacceptable. Since childhood, this is what society has told me, this is what people have told me: Anything that I do, anything that I say or feel that does not go with the norms of being a man is distasteful.

But then I started to ask myself: Does being weak or uncertain make me less of a man? Does feeling what I feel diminish my capability and my importance?

For so many years, I have been told that men and women should act a certain way, because that is how it must be, and we must not go beyond those boundaries or we will be outcasts of society.


But then should we all float quietly and willingly to the same river, and end up in the same place? Or can we go against the direction of the world and find our own way?

I would like to live in a world where I can invoke my right as a human being, my right not to be classified in any category, to be free of all social expectations and to be a person of my own.


My worth as a person does not depend on whether I follow the course that many others have taken. I can be an asset to my country and to my generation while still being a person of my own choice.

I have heard a great deal of people talk about the empowerment of women, but I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone talk about the empowerment of men. We always talk about the rights of women and children, but when it comes to men we talk about their responsibilities.

Many have spoken about feminism, but what about men’s liberation?

In times of war, the world sympathizes with women and children and says that they are victims of violence. But why do we leave out and ignore the men who really felt the gravity of combat? They were the ones in the battlefield; they are the ones who feel the aftershocks of warfare.

A woman crying is conventional, but when a man cries it’s out of the ordinary. Remember that time you saw your dad, your uncle, your grandfather, or any other man you knew shedding a tear? Remember how uncomfortable it made you feel to see them cry like that?

That’s because society has prohibited men from becoming emotional. Because society has made us believe that a man crying is unusual.

Television shows like “American Dad,” “The Simpsons,” “The Cleveland Show,” “Family Guy,” and many others demean the image of men. More importantly, characters like Homer Simpson and Peter Griffin makes a mockery of the role of a father.

Actually, there is little credit that is given to fathers. In today’s generation, many people see the roles of a father as a minor factor in the structure of a family. And a father’s importance depends on how well he can provide for his family.

The world has created a touchstone on what a man should be—the perfect Prince Charming who will sweep ladies off their feet. But what lies underneath the knight’s shining armor is a man who has his own weaknesses and insecurities, a man who feels pain, and a man who is less than perfect.

As a man, I also have the right to be weak, to cry, to be scared, to be uncertain, and to feel lost. Because just like women and children, I am human. A human who is vulnerable like everyone else.

We expect boys to be good in sports just as we expect girls to be good in cooking and cleaning. We applaud working women and congratulate them on their proficiency, but we overlook the men who work, and say that it is just appropriate for them to do so.

We take pity on guys who earn the minimum wage and never make them forget their shortcomings. Most insults directed at men tend to be attacks on their masculinity. And even girls insult guys for being weak.

Sexism is not just an issue for women; men are also a victim of the same crime that is committed by society. This is not a question of dominance but a cry for equality. If we work together, then we can end sexism that hurts both men and women.

Emma Watson, the UN ambassador for goodwill, said in a speech, “Both men and women should feel free to be sensitive. Both men and women should feel free to be strong… It is time we all perceived gender on a spectrum, not as two opposing sets of ideals. If we stop defining each other by what we are not and start defining ourselves by what we are, we can all be freer.”

A woman must not be limited for being what she is. A man must be able to feel free to show his emotion without restraint.

I’m a man and I consider myself a feminist. Because I believe that women should be as equally respected as men. Because I believe that women should have the same privileges that men have. Because I have come across many strong, capable, independent women in my life, such as my mother.

Because I want my future daughter to have the same opportunities I did. Because I want my future son to know that it is okay to show his emotions.

Because sexism is our issue, too. And because being called a feminist means that I fight, not only for the rights of women but also for the rights of men.

Because it is okay for men to be sad, to cry, to feel unsure, to be emotional, to be vulnerable, to not be good at sports, to not have that perfect body.

And it does not make them weak, or pathetic, or irrelevant. It definitely does not make them less of a man.


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Jomar Silva, 18, is a mass communication student of Wesleyan University-Philippines.

TAGS: ” “The Simpsons, Sexism

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