(This article by Senior High student and Miss Silliman candidate Alexandra Kaye Tuale is a refreshing take on the efforts to achieve gender equality. Sharing her thoughts with you, dear reader.)
I used to be offended when someone would say, “Look outside—everything you see was built by men.” Alarm bells would go off in my brain , most probably prompting this knee-jerk reply, “Look outside— everyone you see was birthed by a woman.” In this situation, both I and whomever I would have been talking to would have contributed to the stereotypes that men are only as good as their physical capabilities when compared to women, and that women are only so emotionally superior versus men, as if men and women cannot be capable of both.
Too often, the movement for gender equality has been misconstrued as one gender being the perennial prey and the other as the perennial predator. Gender stereotypes seem to be averse to the notion that my father could be both the head and the heart of the household; that my male friends aren’t entitled to their own emotional insecurities; that my male counterparts are supposedly immune to mental and emotional struggles; that the plight of male victims of sexual assault is to be continually swept under the rug. This school of thought is counterproductive to what the movement for gender equality is all about since at the root, gender parity is defined as the social, political and economic equality of both sexes. The false branding of having to be anti-man to be pro-woman will only cause this movement to regress.
Simone de Beauvoir was right when he said, “The point is not for women to simply take the power out of men’s hands, since that wouldn’t change anything about the world. It’s a question precisely of destroying that notion of power.” Pitting man and woman against each other can only be destructive for everyone across the spectrum.
This is why I believe that we have not been able to fight for gender equality as a whole. In the United Nations even, when they launched a campaign along with celebrity ambassador Emma Watson, called #HeForShe, they branded it as a “global solidarity movement for gender equality.” Their advocacy focused on including men in the conversation for gender equality, an avenue for treating men as part of solution rather than being the problem. Emma Watson asked men to pledge to “take action against all forms of violence and discrimination faced by women and girls” but, sadly, fell short at its goal of inclusivity when it failed to encompass the problems affecting men and boys.
The World Economic Forum aptly puts it when it said, “We must do better. We need a new playbook, one that moves beyond targets and quotas for women, sponsorship of women, and women’s development programs. While these remain critically important, they are insufficient. The new playbook also needs a clear focus on men: their work advancing women and their development as inclusive and equality minded leaders. We need transparent enrolment goals and targets for women and men. And we need policies and cultural interventions that support men as equal partners at home and in the workplace.”
At the current rate, the World Economic Forum estimates that it will only be in 2095 when we will be able to experience gender equality. I don’t want to wait until I’m 94 to live in a world where we see eye to eye. We need to act now. It will take all of us across the gender spectrum to pitch in so we can finally achieve parity among sexes. After all, in the words of Freida Pinto, gender equality is a human fight and not just a female fight. (By Alexandra