#BabaeAko: What Feminism Really is All About

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By Lyka Mae P. Chiang

A few months back, my now ex-boyfriend and I went out to have dinner. It was just one of our usual nights. He was a college student, and I was working my first job as a writer in Makati. Still, we were living in the same apartment somewhere in Manila, and we had this monotonous, dead-end routine in our relationship.

As we finished our meal, he suddenly blurted out, “Nakakasawana ‘yung mga pagkaindito. Mag-aral kana magluto. Pag mag-asawa na tayo, hindi na p’wedeng hindi ka marunong magluto.” I looked at him in disbelief as my mind processed his words. Then he continued, “Babae ka kasi.” And that conversation added up to the long list of our petty fights.

Please allow me to say this in bold—women do not belong in the kitchen. 

The thing is, we have created this absurd concept that women belong in the kitchen. We don’t. And so I calmly explained to him that I would sincerely love to learn to cook but not because it is my duty as a wife, but because it is in my own will to learn. Besides, not all women should learn to cook if they do not want to. It all goes down to choices and preferences—and the same rule goes for men.

That night, I realized I was a feminist.

FEMINISM MYTHS AND MISCONCEPTIONS

The concept of feminism has always confused me. In college, while having a proper class discussion with our Biology Science professor, the term feminism was brought up. He asked the whole class about what feminists are really fighting for. He said he couldn’t quite grasp the fact that women want to be perceived as par with men and yet go ballistic when not given a seat by men at the train or bus. That thought somehow got into my head, and when I’d come to think about it, I thought maybe he was right. Feminism is just a sort of a joke created by a woman who obviously hates men…boy, was I wrong!

One of the biggest misconceptions about feminism lies within its name. When you hear the word ‘feminist,’ the first thing that runs through your mind is feminine, which makes one think that feminism is inclined towards women. However, such is not the case because the genuine concept of feminism is about two sexualities—both male and female.

Feminism is a widely misused term. Many men are upset towards feminists because they feel as though these women are belittling them and seeing them as inferiors. Some just make fun of it because never in their misogynistic egos will they believe that women are also capable of what men can do.What these people do not understand is that feminism isn’t about who’s better or who’s who. The truth is when you are protecting the rights of women while simultaneously violating the rights of men, you can’t call yourself a feminist. That’s misandry, the prejudice against men. And then there’s misogyny which is the prejudice against women. Feminism is a completely different concept from those two.

Unlike what many people think, feminism doesn’t promote any form of hatred. What it does is it balances the rights of both men and women and breaks gender roles and stereotypes. When you are a feminist, you don’t see the other gender as dominant or submissive, you see them as an equal. You don’t hate the other, but instead, you respect them as you would want them to respect you. And yes, not all feminists are women. Men can be a feminist too.

Let’s put it in the way most people can easily understand—if men can do it, women can too. If women can do it, men can too.Men are strong, and so are women. Neither is at a higher level than the other.

It breaks my heart to think that many people can’t seem to accept this concept. I can go on and list thousands of women’s names who braved and fought the society’s standards and proved themselves to be strong and independent individuals, and yet, some people will still find a way to look down on women, simply because of our gender.

But hey, I’m a believer. I believe change doesn’t happen overnight, and it always starts with little things. So perhaps, if I was able to change my mind and attitude about feminism, many people will do, too. ZH

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