while elsewhere in the world the discussions for women’s day and women’s month 2016 have been on the level of celebrity women’s bodies and slutshaming, role models and raising our young girls, in the Philippines we have a government that cannot even pretend to know what women need, much less what we want.
which is a government that listens, instead of doing exactly the same project they did last year, that was met with criticism from the women it purportedly is about.
the In Her Shoes campaign of the national youth commission is horrible because of how superficial it is, how little it stands for, how it is so ungrounded in the realities of oppression and violence and injustice that Filipinas live with every day in this country. it was also thought of by the male officials of the NYC which, despite a conscious rejection of reductionism, should already force them to ask: are we doing the right think here?
According to NYC Chairperson Gio Tingson: “To walk in women’s shoes is a challenge for men to understand and reflect on the daily plight of women, rethink attitudes toward them and to realize the bias against women that is inherent in our culture, practices and values” (NYC Website, 6 March 2015).
According to Commissioner Perci Cendaña: “For a man to truly understand how it is to be a woman in our society, he should walk a mile in her shoes. We aim to call attention to the plight of women which normally men, consciously or unconsciously, do not take notice of. We hope that through this event men would reflect on the plight of women in our country. We encourage Filipino men to take a few moments to put themselves literally and, more importantly, figuratively in the shoes of women.”
now this idea of having men walk in women’s shoes is not even an original one, and it is embarrassing to find that the international walk a mile in her shoes campaign is actually about a larger program that is about getting men to campaign against daily sexism and all forms of violence against women. it’s not a once-a-year project that does nothing but get media mileage for the men; it is about walking the walk in heels, but more importantly talking the talk, and levelling up the discourse on the role men play in the kind of lives women have to live.
meanwhile, the philippine version is nothing but an opportunity for male government officials to perform their macho and machismo by showing the world: look at me, with no insecurities at all! wearing women’s heels!
meanwhile, in the philippines, walking in high heels is seen as a tribute to women but also as an opportunity show men’s appreciation of their mothers and wives, sisters and daughters. because you know all women wear high heels, and really, we are all about our shoes.
at some point last year, the youth commission tried to pretend this had more depth than they had first envisioned it, than they had performed it:
“When you step into those shoes, treat it like you’re stepping into the shoes of this woman — a mother trying to balance her family life and her career or a woman who is a victim of domestic violence but still she chooses to stay with her husband for the sake of their children.”
this of course just made matters worse. from last year’s post:
If this is the depth of empathy that the NYC had hoped to achieve with this campaign, then they are actually trivializing what our women go through. The struggles and difficulties, the oppression and violence.
ah, but apparently we do not deserve better, because the nyc and this matuwid na daan government did this project again this year, as superficial as ever, as empty as ever.
i will be so glad when the inanity of this government is over and done with.