One of the things that I like about the Ateneo Debate Society (ADS) is when we share the tidbits of wisdom that we’ve discovered. I remember George telling me about this lecture by Father David where he talks about how men and women sit. Men tend to stretch their arms to the side with their legs open, or they sit na naka de quatro. If a woman did this, even if she was wearing jeans, it would be deemed improper. She is asked to sit with her legs together or to cross her legs. This shows how society allows men to occupy more space, while women are expected to reduce their bodies, mimicking a fetal position.
I’ve always disliked sitting with my legs together. There was something unnatural about it. I just wanted to relax and break the Wag-ka-bumukaka rule, but I never thought about questioning the said rule.
Some might think, What’s the big deal? or Pati ba un prinoblema? So what? So what if women are made to sit differently? I throw that question back to you. What’s the big deal with women sitting with their legs open? If a woman is wearing a skirt, then I’d understand that she wouldn’t want to flash her underwear in public, but why does the same rule stand when she is wearing pants? Why isn’t she allowed to sit back and relax the way that men do? I mean, who made this Wag-ka-bumukaka-only-for-women rule? Why are we not allowed to sit the way we want to sit without being chastised as unladylike?
The whole history of feminist struggle was all about challenging prohibitions imposed on women that were once viewed as normal, harmless, or even good for women. Education was once thought of as unladylike because women were expected to stay at home and take care of the kids. Women in combat was once unacceptable because being a soldier was manly not womanly.
Thus we must ask ourselves, what other social norms are left unquestioned and survives under the guise of proper behavior? If gender bias can permeate even the most benign realities such as sitting, then it is possible there are more gender-based rules out there that slip under our radar, undetected, unquestioned, and simply accepted as something that is “right” or “proper.” What else are we accepting? What else are we tolerating? What else are we adhering to without question, without even an inch of doubt?
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- How many men feel that they have a right to harass?
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Check out my other blog categories.
Note: For some entries in this blog, a few names and details have been deliberately and willingly changed by the author. This is a personal decision made by the author for specific reasons known to her and is not an endorsement for censorship.