The personal is political. Such is the case of the movie Iron Jawed Angels in which women of the early twentieth century asked the American government to bestow upon them the right to vote. It has been clearly portrayed how women of the past have been treated, reminding them of their inferiorities to men. They are locked within the private spheres and were rarely, if any, given the chance to assert their stand in public. This is reality. The scenarios depicted in the movie is a mere reflection of the present, though there have been some modifications.
These modifications have been brought to us through the conscious efforts of all the women who fought against women oppression or better called the “feminists”. But going back to what I am supposed to say, the bleak incidents in the movie is happening until these recent times. It is a mirror. It can never be hid that majority of today’s women are still trapped in the private spheres. What makes this notion even sadder is the idea that the services women offer to the society are often unacknowledged and unappreciated. To support my assertions, they need concrete proofs.
The first proof is the occupational mobility of women. It is somehow slow compared to men. Women opted to accept jobs with low-paying salaries because men have already dominated the sphere of high-paying jobs. Export companies in the Philippine context have been hiring Filipino women to work in factories for mainly two reasons. First, they demand less; second, they are expected not to have big income since they are not the breadwinners. It’s as simple as this: they only work to augment family income. Another proof is the double burden placed on women who are working.
Although they got the chance to work in the public, they still have duties left at their homes. Every after work, they are expected to clean, cook, take care of the children, and serve her husband. This is how reality actually works. Everything mentioned earlier appear to be personal matters but they are highly political. Political, in a sense, that they are affecting the course of society. Men are given a handful of opportunities while women are given less. This is the primal reason why the political sphere is dominated by men. Men make the laws, women obey them like children.
This is the pattern of law-making in the country, thereby not making laws beneficial to the general public since women’s concerns and needs are disregarded(though there are some exceptions in our present laws; e. g. Anti Violence against Women). The road to equality is still far. But all thanks to the feminists who took several big steps in making the gender inequality road nearer as it seemed to be. My first appreciation goes to women who opened the gates of gender equality. They fought taxation without representation and then opened legal mechanisms to women, allowing today’s women to exercise their full rights to suffrage.
My second appreciation goes to people who opened individual empowerment, particularly on reproductive rights. I admire them for awakening women’s consciousness of their roles in the society, reminding them to achieve the higher social ladder. Thirdly, to the women who found a voice on their own by considering the various diverse groups in the fold of feminist thought. And lastly, to the men and women of today who are still continuing the fight to achieve substantive equality on gender matters.
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