To be a woman
Monday, March 8, 2004
THAT was the title of an editorial the late Teodoro M. Locsin Sr. wrote, when he revived the Philippines Free Press in time for the snap election of 1986. In the editorial, he wrote, “There has never been anything like it in Philippine history: a woman telling the machos of business and industry to do what she is doing, to stand up to the injustices against which they have been content merely to complain…And one with any sense of morality, of human right and dignity, can only recoil from government by, for, and of one man clearly determined to maintain his rule at whatever cost to the nation. But it took a woman to do what a man, or men, should have been doing: Fight! Being a man was sadly inadequate. One had to be something else. Be a woman-like her! Like Cory.”
While Cory Aquino was (and is) matronly, the President is more like a school marm: you know, the strict and grim type that tends to be cold, domineering, demanding, and not at all charming. The type that demands performance and doesn’t bother to pat you on the back. Nothing could be a more unpleasant combination for the Filipino male. Cory Aquino, at least, was unfailingly polite, bringing out the gallantry in her peers, even among her enemies, though behind her back they sneered at her. The President, on the other hand, derives satisfaction from doing her work and expects the same of other people: nothing could be more irritating to the ordinary man. In fact, I’ve heard some people muse that the reason the President is fiercely opposed by some people is that she has an emasculating effect on those people. They are simply discombobulated by the fact that the President is young enough to be fashionable, to be feminine when the only thing most men could tolerate in a woman holding a high position is to be motherly, or better still, grandmotherly. Cory Aquino was a widow and grandmotherly; the President is young enough to care about what she wears; she dances; she even talks about sex, and not even in the clinical manner reserved for those for whom sex is but a memory. In other words her very femininity is a threat.
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