Untapped Brilliance: Women’s Role in the Philippines

The Women of the Philippines have an important role to play in the country’s future. It is noticeable that traditional family structures have held them back from contributing as much as men.

But this is changing rapidly, and this can only benefit everyone.

I have never met a brilliant Filipino man. I have met plenty who are nice, and reasonably smart, but never brilliant.

As a collective, they do not excel at anything that I have noticed, outside of sports. Which is still not world class.

But there is one thing that many Filipino men I have met has in common – they treat women very poorly.

Attitudes toward Filipino Women

General attitudes towards women are stuck in a 20th century time warp, and the Philippines is worse off for it.

For the record, this is not a post in support of a feminist movement in the Philippines. It is a post in support of brilliance.

The Philippines desperately needs its best people to solve its many challenges.

Empower the brilliance of any sex and the change will be massive…. My only prediction is that the men will not measure up.

There is limited brilliance there.

Domestic Smothering

This male/female dynamic is most evident in the typical domestic relationship in the Philippines.

It is far more common for the men to be in charge and women are seen as possessions in relationships.

The macho husband/boyfriend often forbidding their activities, and even their work if their ego is threatened by it.

For example, a friend of mine’s mother who was very successful in her field.

The husband demanded that she resign because he would not accept her earning more than he did.

Talk about selfish and regressive thinking. Satisfying his ego directly hurt the kind of support that he and his wife could give to their seven (yes, seven!) daughters.

My friend was the oldest of the seven children and was loaded with a burden of paying for her younger siblings college expenses.

An expense which the parents could have covered, or at least helped with, if the mother was given permission to work.

If only to reinforce the stereotype of the deadbeat Filipino father he was also being unfaithful to the mother.

So her freedom to do anything about this was also cut off because she didn’t earn an income. The man held the power in all respects at a direct cost to the family’s well being both financially and emotionally.

Adultery Laws

Speaking of being unfaithful, the one sided adultery laws seemingly from the dark ages remain in place.

It is ok for men to step outside of marital boundaries, but women can be locked up (a warning for foreigners, married women are off limits! Ignore this and you have just painted a massive target on your forehead).

There is an episode of Locked Up Abroad where an English man was put in jail for exactly this.

This double standard alone is degrading and demoralizing to women in general.

It is selectively enforced of course, like most other laws, and only acts as an excuse for a man to wield his power when it suits him.

And without an option to divorce, women are trapped, and further smothered from living a happy life of their choosing.

Rape a Secondary Crime

In recent years there has been much political discussion around reinstating the death penalty. I will not go into the merits of this discussion as they are deeply complex, especially in a country with a questionable justice system to begin with.

One aspect of the discussion that was established early on was that rape would not be included in the list of crimes eligible for capital punishment. It was deemed a secondary crime.

I think you would be hard-pressed to find a rational person who would agree that rape is less of a crime than drugs, treason, and plunder.

Is there really a worse act that someone can commit to another person? Perhaps torturing children is worse, but that’s about it.

The underlying message from people in power is that rape isn’t that bad. A message that is profoundly negative and enables the bar to be lowered that little bit further.

Reality Check for Filipino Men

Filipino women are better at most things; work ethic, problem solving, less egotistical in their thinking.

This is a big generalization of course but on average I have observed superior capabilities on these measures from women.

Especially on the influence of ego. This sabotages rational decision making for many Filipino men.

The Philippines will be better placed to bring about long term change if women had more say.

But, there are very few women in positions of influence.

Brilliance Above Sex

As always, the sample size that I base my opinions on is very small compared to the size of the country.

Of the hundreds of people that I have gotten to know there are two, maybe three that I think are capable of making high level decisions, in the right spirit for the long term benefit of everyone.

They are all of course women. If I had to rank everyone that I know using the same criteria then there would not be a man inside the top 10.

This says a lot about the younger generation that will run the country over the next 20-50 years.

The boys club may need to open up if genuine progress is to be made.

20th Century Problems

Before I become the target of any I don’t understand the Philippines culture comments I would like to point out that this situation is not anything new.

Most developed countries around the world went through similar changes last century where women demanded equality.

They are still fighting for equality in many areas today, so this is not an issue that is unique to the Philippines.

They are just behind the times.

The world will demand change eventually, but the Philippines will hold on to their little isolated bubble of the world as long as possible where women are smothered, rather than empowered.

Women will be objectified rather than celebrated.

All of which will act as an anchor holding the country back from reaching its potential… In my humble opinion.

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