“Babae Ka Kasi”: What It’s Like to Grow Up in a Casually Sexist Family

Words by Leika Golez

I love being a woman. But it’s not easy, and I’m afraid to think that it will never get easier at all.

It’s not easy on the streets, where I just pretend not to see men staring while I walk. It’s not easy at work, where I’m called bossy and confrontational for voicing out my thoughts. It’s not easy at school, where my education is apparently less important than my obedience to the dress code. It’s not easy online, where I’m seen as indecent and desperate if I post pictures of myself at the beach.

And even at home, it’s not easy, because that’s where I first experienced sexism. It was subtle so my younger self couldn’t possibly have noticed it, but I know better now as an adolescent. As the only daughter in the family, here are some subtle ways I experienced sexism at home.

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3. I was judged by my physical appearance more

My parents obsessed about my physical appearance while my brothers could get away with looking however they wanted. I was told that I always had to look “respectable and modest” so I wouldn’t attract any unwanted attention from men. As a young teenager, I was judged by my pimples even though it was completely normal to have them at that age. My father forced me to get braces, saying that it was my responsibility as a lady to “make myself look clean”. Aside from the fact that they had unrealistic standards for how I looked, they also based my entire character on just that.

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2. My views weren’t taken seriously

Whenever I would raise an argument, they would automatically associate it with my feelings. During a conversation, I would hear phrases like, “Galit ka nanaman!” and “Meron ka, noh?“. The validity of my arguments didn’t even seem to matter at all because females are just traditionally expected to be more emotional than logical. And it really made me feel like there was no use to speaking up because no one would listen to me properly anyway.

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1. I was stereotyped

Overall, I was stereotyped to only have two life purposes: to look good and to be empathetic. I like to think that women are seen in this shallow light because others are simply afraid to accept what females are truly capable of.

From all these things, I’ve learned even more that I have a lot to bring to the table. We women have to work harder than men to prove ourselves, but if that’s what it takes to have gender equality someday, then we’ll do it. It may be exhausting, but contrary to popular belief, we’re warriors.

And we’re not going down without a fight.

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