At a panel discussion conducted last October 9 by the Australian-Philippines Business Council in Sydney, Vice President Leni Robredo was quoted as saying: “My being a woman… has paved the way for a lot of malicious… malicious and undeserved criticisms on my person, and that does not… it’s not the same for men.”
A woman (in the person of Eve) was God’s second creation – after man (Adam). Eve wasn’t alone when it comes to Biblical women. Among those who made a name for themselves include Sarah (the wife of Abraham who delivered a healthy baby boy when she was already old), Delilah (the cause of the fall of Samson), Jezebel (the wicked woman who was portrayed by Bette Davis, earning her an Oscar award), Ruth (the widow), Virgin Mary (the mother of Jesus Christ), and Mary Magdalene (who tried to seduce the Son but failed to do so).
History is replete with famous women, too. There was Margaret Thatcher (who was played superbly in a movie by Meryl Streep, the only woman in Hollywood history who received more than a dozen Oscar nominations).
Another was Nobel Peace Laureate Mother Teresa (who was also awarded a Ramon Magsaysay Award for international understanding); she died on the same day Princess Di figured in a vehicular accident.
The Philippines has produced two lady presidents. The first one was Corazon C. Aquino, who toppled down the dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos. After two more presidents – Fidel V. Ramos and Joseph Estrada – Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo took the role as the country’s highest official.
But being a woman is not an easy job. “Being a woman is a terribly difficult trade since it consists principally of dealings with men,” Joseph Conrad in Chance wrote. In her case, Robredo has to deal with President Rodrigo R. Duterte.
But blessed is she if she finds a man who supports her all the way. Anais Nin said it well: “I, with deeper instinct, choose a man who compels my strength, who makes enormous demands on me, who does not doubt my courage or my toughness, who does not believe me naïve or innocent, who has the courage to treat me like a woman.”
There is indeed a big difference between man and woman – even when it comes to education. “You educate a man, you educate man. You educate a woman, you educate a generation,” said American religious leader Brigham Young.
British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher went further: “If you want something said, ask a man; if you want something done, ask a woman.”
Bette Davis, the Hollywood actress who won two Oscars for leading roles, also gives a contrasting view about the two opposing sexes. “When a man gives his opinion, he’s a man. When a woman gives her opinion, she’s a bitch.”
For every success of a man, there’s a woman behind. That’s a popular saying. But British singer John Lennon puts it in another perspective. “As usual, there is a great woman behind every idiot.”
George Carlin, in When Will Jesus Bring the Pork Chops?, has written this timely yet insightful observation: “Here’s all you have to know about men and women: women are crazy, men are stupid. And the main reason women are crazy is that men are stupid.”
Steve Maraboli, author of Unapologetically You: Reflections on Life and the Human Experience, has a very interesting suggestion to make your woman love you more. “When in a relationship,” he wrote, “a real man doesn’t make his woman jealous of others, he makes others jealous of his woman.”
And there are some men who fight back to get even with women. “There are two theories to arguing a woman. Neither one works,” said American stage and movie actor Will Rogers. Someone also stated, “There are two kinds of women in the world: those who take a man’s strength and those who give a man strength.”
Now, talking about two types of women, a psychoanalyst shares this opinion: “My women patients can be divided into two categories: the ones who work and the ones who stay at home. The former suffer from a guilt complex, the latter from frustration.”
Women, whether sexy or not, are always hot. “You see, women are like fires, like flames,” wrote Patrick Rothfuss in The Name of the Wind. “Some women are like candles, bright and friendly. Some are like single sparks, or embers, like fireflies for chasing on summer nights. Some are like campfires, all light and heat for a night and willing to be left after. Some women are like heartfires, not much to look at but underneath they are all warm red coal that burns a long, long while.”
Women should not be called “the weaker sex.” Here’s an explanation from Mahatma Gandhi: “To call woman the weaker sex is a libel; it is man’s injustice to woman. If by strength is meant brute strength, then, indeed, woman is less brute than men. If by strength is meant moral power, then woman is immeasurably man’s superior. Has she not greater intuition, is she not more self-sacrificing, has she not greater powers of endurance, has she not greater courage?
“Without her, man could not be. If nonviolence is the law of our being, the future is with woman,” Gandhi continued. “Who can make a more effective appeal to the heart than woman?”
So, men, you better watch out. American First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt reminds: “A woman is like a tea bag; you never know how strong it is until it’s in hot water.” Mark Twain may never meet her but he once wrote: “What would mean be without women? Scare, sir… mighty scarce.
Since time immemorial, women are fighting for equal rights. “Feminism isn’t about making women stronger,” said Feminist and activist G.D. Anderson. “Women are already strong. It’s about changing the way the world perceives that strength.”
American author and social activist Letty Cottin Pogrebin has the same thought: “When men are oppressed, it’s a tragedy. When women are oppressed, it’s tradition.”
“The story of women’s struggle for equality belongs to no single feminist nor to any one organization but to the collective efforts of all who care about human rights,” American feminist and journalist Gloria Steinem points out.