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Saturday, March 8, 2014
AS WE celebrate International Women’s Day each year, I pause and think about how lucky I am to have lived a life substantially free from gender bias.
I was raised in a largely liberal household though I can’t say my mother didn’t have old-fashioned ideas about women. Fortunately, my father was the perennial Devil’s advocate.
That paved the way for enlightenment in our home.
My sisters and I were raised to be strong, independent, capable human beings, never made to feel inadequate on account of being born female. No quest, dream or destination was beyond our reach because we were not born men. As a result, my mother eventually lost her cause.
My sisters and I grew up believing we didn’t need men, motherhood or marriage.
While I generally grew up in an equal-opportunity environment, I can’t say I’ve never heard a chauvinist remark in my life though to be truthful, I’ve rarely been the subject of such prejudicial remarks. And on the rare occasions that I was discriminated against on account of being a woman, these incidents irked me but they didn’t really cause me to lose sleep at night.
I was much more sensitive to these remarks when I was young. And I tended to fly off the handle when I heard them. Today, though, I’m too old to take offense at someone’s lack of enlightenment. I believe I’ve accomplished enough in my life not to be affected when I am thought second-rate because I am a woman.
When I was young, I didn’t like being underestimated by men. It used to drive me up the wall. But I later realized that this was only because I was insecure and immature. If I was enraged when my capabilities were being questioned, it was only because I was myself unsure and uncertain. In short, I had not yet arrived.
As I grew older, I learned to use men’s biases about women to my advantage. I discovered that men foolishly liked clueless women or at least women who pretend to be clueless. It made men feel powerful. So I made men believe they had that power over me and in the process extracted so much information from them. It was not a bad bargain.
At the end of the day, I learned to have a sense of humor.
Yes, I used to rebel against societal stereotypes. Today, the rebel has retired. No, my views haven’t changed. But the rebellion has taken another form. I no longer feel the need to yell at the top of my lungs that I stand on equal footing with a man. My life is a testament to this statement.
I live as I do. Complete without a man. I have survived, succeeded and found significance.
In a sense, age has liberated me from the shackles of gender bias. Why should it rile me when someone calls me incapable, inadequate or incomplete when I know I am not because I have lived exactly as I have wanted and without regret? In brief, I have arrived.
Of course it helps that at my age, not too many chauvinist remarks are directed at me.
Really, I have nothing to rant about. For the most part, women my age are largely ignored so we have to bend over backwards to write irreverent columns simply to be noticed.
Life’s a breeze. I’ve found peace. I don’t need International Women’s Day anymore. I am complete.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on March 09, 2014.