Is DepEd perpetuating a battle of the sexes?

“Boys don’t cry.”

“Girls are supposed to be prim and proper.”

“Women are supposed to take care of the home while men are supposed to be the breadwinners of their respective families.”

“Stop whining! Are you a sissy?”

“You cannot be successful in your chosen field because you are (insert gender)…”

The following one-liners may seem acceptable in society, but in today’s world, being sexist would get anyone in trouble. Even for just a seemingly harmless remark (but with sarcastic and chauvinistic undertones), one can also be censured and pilloried by the general public, especially netizens.

Once someone’s sexist remark goes viral online (celebrities and public officials are especially mentioned), that person’s reputation and future are history and his/her calumny would be perpetually in the annals of notoriety and ignominy.

The Department of Education is not spared from constant besmirching offline and online. Moreover, despite the passing of time, it has been known more for its peccadillos and its gaffes than for its efforts in reforming the state of education in the Philippines. I am 500% certain that Socrates

The latest blunder ever to hit DepEd, mainly due to its own ineptitude and lackadaisical attitude towards real reform, is the perpetuation of stereotypes of men and women.

If not for an eagle-eyed, socially conscious Grade 5 student by the name of Miguel Lapid of Polomolok, Cotabato, we would have remained in the dark about the rampant sexism that is pervasive within our educational landscape. We would have also forgotten that it is not sex or gender that determines how a person would perform but one’s own grit, strength of spirit, maturity, and sense of responsibility.

Whoever wrote the module being pointed out by Mr. Lapid (the younger, not the father) must have either been in a trance or inveigled by his/her own sex and gender biases (granting that the module writer and the supervisor responsible for inspecting the module were in full control of their mental faculties).

I would not be surprised if that module writer had drunk cognac, tequila, lambanog, or sioktongalong with a handful of Seconalbefore writing the controversial module.

The controversial, sexist module is indeed a pitiful sight to behold because we teachers are supposed to be purveyors of fairness, truth, and equality both in creed and in deed.

Is DepEd perpetuating a battle of the sexes?

Indirectly and indiscreetly, it is a resounding YES.

One leading reason is that in textbooks for primary learners (including kindergarten), sex-based stereotypes are still pervasive. There are a number of textbooks that describe fathers as breadwinners and mothers as homemakers. Textbook writers, teachers, and especially DepEd officials seem to forget that the tables have turned and roles have been reversed out of necessity. As a concession to the times and to fluidity of roles, we must not totally kowtow but accept that such a change is not only a breakthrough but also a symbol of gender equality and empowerment.

Second, the way we treat and look at women in the workplace (including schools) is still sexist and delimiting, to say the least. We have double standards that are not acceptable anymore. For instance, men who assert their ideas and rights andwho know what they want are seen as proactive and strong while women who do the same are perceived as pushy and irrepressible. In the case of schools and other workplaces, this still happens because we have been slaves to an antiquated men-are-greater-than-women mentality. A glaring example of such is the character of multi-awarded veteran thespian Hilda Koronel (Carla Asuncion) in the 1984 Viva Films production Working Girls. In the movie, Carla, an executive at a major bank in Makati, is seen by her male colleagues as competitive and feisty. When she learns of her secretary Sabel’s (played by Rio Locsin, another well-respected veteran thespian) pregnancy, she confronts the lothario perpetrator Raul Leuterio (played by the very estimable, versatile Tommy Abuel), a vice president of the bank where Carla works, and threatens to expose his shenanigans done to Sabel. In the end, Carla is finally elected president and chairperson of the board and her fellow executives- even the males- finally accept her as their boss. As for Sabel, she gets back at some male colleagues who taunt her for being pregnant by hitting them with her tray and punching them, much to her fellow females’ delight.

Third, we still fall prey to the media’s sensationalism of women as vulnerable, faint-hearted, and unable to defend themselves. Every day, we read and watch news of women being assaulted, murdered, battered by their husbands, or being subjected to verbal jousts either by men or by their fellow women. Another instance is when women who commit mistakes worthy of endless censure and nitpicking (such as adultery, deceit, and other types of mistakes) are depicted as immoral, sex-deprived, and witless. There are examples of females on social media who have been pilloried online for being outspoken or for committing cringe-worthy acts out of anger, spite, or cluelessness. In the case of the Department of Education, it has lagged in terms of portraying women in a positive light.

Fourth, the way we treat women and men at home reflects the way we treat them. Such is unequal, to say the least. There are some men who expect the women in their homes to do all the housework while they do nothing but stay on their couches and reign supreme as couch potatoes. Moreover, there are also many of them who refuse to let their spouses work, reasoning that women are supposed to be domesticated. There is nothing wrong with being domesticated, but men should also learn how to do household chores without grunting like Wolverine or running amok like Incredible Hulk.

If DepEd refuses to rectify errors that reinforce sexism, they would be accountable for their malfeasance, along with other acts of malfeasance and misfeasance, not only on election day but also on judgment day.

DepEd, listen up, wake up, and shape up then take the rap! Secretary Briones and your dopplegangers, better put a halt to your shenanigans before you experience future, worse mishaps!


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