Loving, caring mothers and good girls

The U.S. has yet to have a woman president and there is often talk about how the country doesn’t have enough women in power. Once upon a time, I would have scoffed and talked about how women politicians are nothing new here in the Philippines. Heck, we’ve had two women presidents already and a number of women in Congress and Senate. Surely that must mean we’re light years ahead, eh? Go, feminism, right?

Sure, it’s worth celebrating that we’re unfazed when women hold political office here. Yet it’s not perfect either. Women politicians have to be framed as good mothers and caregivers. Risa Hontiveros is billed as someone who will fight for you and take care of you. Nancy Binay is dubbed “nanay de pamilya.” And Cynthia Villar is not only playing up her marriage to Manny Villar through that campaign jingle which refers to her as “Misis Villar,” but her nickname/slogan is “Misis Hanepbuhay.” Then we also have Corazon Aquino, who was deemed free of any evil intentions because she’s a “housewife,” as if that term automatically means that your intentions are 100% pure.

There’s nothing wrong with being a mom, of course, and with being someone who’ll look after your interests and make sure that women and children 1 get sufficient rights, services, and protection. But it would be really something if women were presented based solely on their skills and experience, without painting us as sweet, loving people who will take care of you and can do no wrong. The latter perception caused people to be floored by the fact that Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo ran a shady government that was rife with corruption, her being a woman and everything. While it’s interesting that women are held to high standards, it’s unfair to expect us to be perfect and agreeable all the time.


One Friday during the second grade, Friday being the designated day for club activities in my elementary school, my classmates who were part of the Girl Scouts and the ones of the Boy Scouts were getting ready to head out for their meeting. For some reason, the teacher was piqued at the rowdy guys and demanded that they recite the Boy Scout oath. There was much mumbling and shuffling and headscratching. Irate, the teacher then asked the girls to recite the Star Scout promise 2, and the girls promptly complied, reciting in unison.

At a young age, girls are already expected to do everything perfectly and generally be “good girls.” Fuck-ups are generally expected of boys, and any misbehavior is dismissed as “boys being boys.” And thus, girls and women are roundly bashed when they step a toe out of line, whereas guys are not and also enjoy a heaping of praise when they do things well.

  1. I personally hate the infantilization of women, and I certainly hate that women and children are constantly being lumped together in laws and services
  2. Which I find problematic, as I do many other things.

April 14, 2013 by Lynn
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