Monday, September 27, 2010

Taming or Saving Filipino Women?


By Wilhelmina S. Orozco

A great number of women, young and middle-aged alike have caught on the sex-bomb costume of short shorts. They parade themselves without qualms or guilt about arousing the libido of mostly the men who eye them with lascivious eyes and salivating mouths.

What could be the reason for this fashion? It is said that some women have to exert extra effort to attract men, to bait a partner for life, a rich companion probably who would be able to foot all the bills to concerts, musicals, theatres, and the movies. But if these women are really bent on attracting suitors why do they go the way of attracting gazers into their legs, instead of their minds? Why do some go to great lengths of wearing shorts and then when inside the jeepneys cover their legs with their books and bags? In other words, they are not really sold to the idea of displaying their legs.

Now why has this attire been upfront for many months now? What could be the reason why Filipino women are not shy at all in wearing them even when the weather is nippy and the logical act to do is to cover the legs? They don’t even feel timid at all in inserting themselves between passengers inside public jeepneys amid students whose concentration is broken by this appearance.

The media has been the culprit in this phenomenon – especially lunchtime TV shows which have chorus girls in short shorts gyrating and imitating sexual acts by moving up and down and when captured on tv camera even just by half their bodies, appear already as if the “dance” were a form of sexual act to arouse the sexual urges of the viewers.

Then the entertainment reporters in the evening news are also dressed in very revealing clothes thereby making parading their bodies a “normal” preoccupation, despite the airing of these stations of their mission: that of being “kapuso,” “kapamilya,” or “kapatid.

Another culprit is Demi Moore’s movie, Indecent Proposal which where she walked around in the streets in very short shorts. That movie which rationalized materialistic love when it was shown here raised many imitators. Many women aped Demi's attire, as if to look like her was to acquire her popularity and possibly an opportunity to be a millionaire (Remember how she did an indecent act with Robert Redford to win 1 million dollars?)

Worse yet are the print, comics and TV shows, which present costumes of those women in games. No matter if they are just animation illustrations, they feature sexually arousing curvaceous bodies – especially the bosomy ones. Then the plots revolving around the women’s being equal partners in investigative situations make the characters palatable for imitation by the female viewers.

But of course, the possibility exists that intelligence officers, to spite feminists, employ assets who will display themselves inside jeepneys, sidewalks and street corners where the latter would pass. It is a way of disorienting these critical feminists who to their mind probably are influential in the political affairs of the State.

Are clothes now so expensive that these sex-bomb attired women are into wearing them? Not really. In fact, a pair of corto shorts is only P35 or 3 for P100. So why do these women wear them.

Then it is bruited about that in Ateneo de Manila University, the guards have been at loggerheads with recalcitrant female students who assert their irrational “freedom” to do as they please, to wear anything as they like. When I visited the Ateneo Library recently I read there about a dress code and it included women wearing clothes that should cover their thighs. Then suddenly, I saw a female student climb down the stairs from the second floor wearing short shorts. I asked the counter librarian why that girl had been allowed inside, and I was told that because of the constant bickering on this matter,the dress code, the administration just gave up on imposing it.

I was appalled to find out that the Jesuit priests had bent their rules to these students. Even if the students should come from wealthy families, they should be made to understand that the university has a high goal for everyone, that of equalizing opportunities for educational attainment.

Another time, I went to the Holy Redeemer Church, and I met a girl in shorts also going inside. I accosted and asked her: “Are you going to worship in that dress? Are you not ashamed?” She was nearly teary-eyed about my question and could not answer back. Then she left, not going inside the church anymore. I could not fathom why she had to weep over such an innocent question when she was brazen enough to display her legs.

Here is where I think that the Church and the Department of Education (DEP-ED) must impose on these female students. Our country has both rural and urban students, with the former bred in an atmosphere of conservatism and the latter in extreme liberal tradition. When the two meet in school, the former would have greater tendency to kowtow or to accept reluctantly what the latter does, and would not want to “rock the boat” so to speak.

Now, how can students learn under an atmosphere where there is a clash of values? I pity the students from the rural areas who could find it difficult concentrating on their studies because of this. Hence it becomes incumbent upon Church and government officials to “tame” or discipline these female students into treating the school as a place for learning and not for displaying their legs and thighs. Attendance at school or university should be treated as an elegant undertaking, requiring modest and respectable clothes that would differentiate a sex worker from a student.

The Church and Dep-Ed should focus its attention on this matter because by having a dress code for the girls, they would show that the main reason for going to the university is to learn, acquire knowledge, debate with other students on issues that matter, challenge theories by past philosophers and writers through their mentors and classmates, and then come up with their own.

Precisely, education is meant to make students original thinkers, doers and actors, instead of blind copycats of what is going on around them. In the case of female students, education is meant to make them understand the many obstacles facing them especially where equality is not yet a permanent reality in our society, and so danger lurks where they could lose out in terms of opportunities.

Thus the university should acquire a new image from hereon – as a space for the minds of female students to expand, to raise their standards for existence, instead of being "gaya-ga" of what they see on TV and other media. The Church should also have watchers of those entering places of worship in order to protect other worshippers who would could feel uneasily and unable to concentrate on their spiritual practices due to the presence of those who flaunt their legs and thighs.

Is it a case of conservatism to insist on a dress code? No, it is not. Students should learn how to regard the university as a place for learning, where the development of the mind, emotions, physical bodies and spirit are paramount. It is not a time for challenging the State or other institutions on physicalities but rather on the rationale for their existence, why social issues abound, how politics can be directed to serve the people's needs, and why culture is an equally important study, among other things.

I mentioned the university’s goal of “equalizing opportunities for educational attainment.” This is exactly the point I am driving at: the atmosphere for learning should be equal in order for everyone to be able to study, to concentrate and to develop ideas that are necessary for their courses, and not be distracted by scenes of physical challenges to the authorities’ imposing the dress code.

Moreover, how can students feel equal or strong to challenge the ideas of Henry David Thoreau, St. Thomas Aquinas, Simone de Beauvoir, Jean Paul Sartre, Mary Wollstonecraft, or even Bernard Shaw, when they look puny in their attire? These theoreticians and philosophers worked in academes and places where their intelligence was highly appreciated, admired, or even challenged with reverence by others. Is it possible to regard highly a female student in shorts attacking the ideas of Plato?

I think that the university must reacquire its status of being a true place for learning and not for display of legs and thighs of misguided students whose parents could be too busy to attend to their activities at school. Mentors, spiritual advisers and counselors must bond together to address this problem which is a probable reason for the dip in ranking of Philippine universities in world education.

The Church must also assert its authority in terms of making female worshippers be attired in those that will help others attain their spiritual upliftment easily. By the way, aren’t those shorts or even short dresses a way of desanctifying the place of worship?

I hope that even the various women’s groups should look into this problem. Women’s liberation is anchored on respect of women’s rights, true, but not when they are already destabilizing the cultural values of the society for equal opportunities in education. We should help everyone attain their own highest goals or just not be plain obstacles to others attainment of their aims in life.

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