THE EVE OF HUMANITY
“IN HIS IMAGE.” In this very context of God’s creation of Adam – the first human inhabitant of the earth, revolves the idea that the woman is the “weaker vessel,” thus, has conditioned society and the woman herself to be subservient to the male sex. For ages, women suffered from male dominance due to this grave misunderstanding of their vital role in humanity. Women were misjudged and mistreated, yet men complain that they do not understand women. Most often, it reflects the fact that men do not really understand themselves enough.
Society has defined and conditioned us that the basic satisfaction of man is his career. The workplace is where the man belongs, while the woman’s place is in the home, deriving basic satisfaction in the family. While a woman’s uniqueness is her appeal to a man, it is also his greatest challenge. Sadly so, when that same uniqueness outsmarts his conquest, it becomes a threat to his manhood.
Edwin Lewis Cole, in his book “Communication, Sex and Money,” noted that when the woman’s liberation movement began, it carried a justifiable rejection against men’s double standard marked as male chauvinism, showing that women were never meant to be preys of man’s predatory passions and lusts.
According to Cole, money and sex, and most men are content. But that will not satisfy the needs of a woman or satisfy man’s character. And it is here where the trouble begins. Procreation may be evidence of manliness, but not of maturity. For are not the dogs, worms and bees capable of reproduction just the same? It is this tendency to worship the creature rather than the Creator that man has corrupted woman and reduced her to an object to satisfy his own lust.
We hear men chuckle in mockery. Of course, many women enjoy her ability to seduce a man, to exercise power over him through seduction. There would be no pornography to look at if there were no women who desired to flaunt their sexual prowess! It may be held that this seduction syndrome dates back to the biblical time when Eve first tasted conquest over man in the Garden of Eden. But then it has to be noted that the seduction was only a duplication of the act of the serpent who orchestrated it, whose sex and gender has remained unidentified until now. Seduction, therefore, does not describe the nature of a woman, or is it female monopoly. That man’s dignity should become a woman’s responsibility is unthinkable!
Today it is no longer strange to hear women flying planes or taking command in the battlefields, but the world has yet to witness a woman at a pulpit officiating service to God, particularly in orthodox churches and in Islam (although of late Muslim women are already allowed to read the Holy Qur’an). Obviously and vehemently, the clergy and the Islamic hierarchy cannot accept women in their ranks.
In her book entitled “Changing of the Gods,” Naomi R. Goldenberg frankly tackles this critical twist. Women as rabbis, priests and ministers present the obvious problem. How could women represent a “male God”? And what will happen to “God” if what He created “in His likeness” share the role of the one “extracted from his ribs”? The “natural resemblance” which must exist between Christ or Yaweh or Allah and his representative or minister will be lost.
On the other hand, the advocates for women empowerment in the Philippines which resulted from the Beijing Women Conference and was reinforced by Republic Act 7877 or the Anti-Sexual Harassment Law, noted that the making of the Philippine History presents the cultural prejudices and male bias of early historians, ignoring women’s roles and conditions. This marginalization of women suggests that women were not given due consideration and recognition.
The Post-War Modernization Period saw the formation of the Malayang Kilusan ng Bagong Kababaihan or MAKIBAKA in the Philippines (a liberation movement for women of the new generation), which could have initiated a social liberation by the elimination of feudal treatment of women, commercialization of their bodies, and other discriminatory and structural barriers to the fullest development of their potentials. But the Marcos dictatorship cut short its journey in its kick-off stage.
Sr. Mary John Manazan, OSB, in her book “The Women Question in the Philippines” discussed that the miserable condition and disadvantaged position of women has further taken a transnational dimension as the economic hardships have forced women into prostitution and other jobs in the “rest and recreation” industry. More subtle forms of prostitution come in the guise of entertainers or cultural dancers and mail-order brides, parading the Filipina as an “ideal wife”. This has reduced her to a commodity for trade in the open global market. Likewise, labor migration has prompted wives, mothers and daughters to be separated from their families to work abroad as domestic helpers and baby-sitters, where the woman worker is most exposed to sexual and domestic violence.
According to Sr. Mary, the reality of “double-burden” for working women has further narrowed her escape of her grievous plight. Women are expected to carry on with their domestic duties at home and for the family, even as she shares the responsibility of the provider. Studies show that the social definition of woman as mother, wife, housekeeper is in accord with the women’s perception of herself. The home, the media and religion are the strong socializing factors that have both perpetrated and reinforced this traditional view.
Sr. Mary is correctly certain when she declared that there is no turning back now. The women’s movement in the Philippines has come to the point of no return. It can no longer be considered a fad or a transitory phenomenon. It is a movement that is inclusive not only of women’s concerns but of the concerns of race, clans and environment. It is crucial not only for women but for humankind as a whole.
It is clear that women at this critical juncture are given the unique chance to play a significant role in the world. Their movement is not only for the liberation of women but for the survival of the human race. Clearly, the women movement is not a battle of the sexes or a debate between chauvinism and feminism. It is an awakening of the second half of the world’s populace – the mothers, wives, sisters and daughters who live, work and play in the very same world the fathers, husbands, brothers and sons also live, work and play. This awakening must be supported by the advantaged half – the men. Society will have to give credence to the source of the world’s greatest assets – human resources, and recognize the hand that rocks the cradle of the one that rules the world, and in effect, empower this same hand to take part in ruling the world.