In celebration of Women’s Month, the Women and Gender Institute (WAGI) conducted a series of webinars last March 2021 with a theme Safe, Just, and Free: A Better World is Possible. The first webinar led by WAGI, in partnership with ASTRAEA Miriam College Highschool and CEDAW Youth Miriam College Chapter, discussed the challenges of normalizing patriarchal systems in society and the need to essentially combat these with a feminist perspective of masculinity. This webinar was held last March 12, 2021 via Zoom and was moderated by Ms. Brenda Pureza and Ms. Danica Gonzalez from WAGI.
The speakers emphasized the need to denormalize and devalue toxic masculinity, as it is one of the causes for the continuous prevalence of all forms of sexual and gender harassment, violence, and discrimination in society. Gender equality, gender justice, and gender inclusivity is a shared struggle and a shared responsibility. Issues, struggles, and insights of women, as well as of men and all persons of diverse genders should be involved in conversations and dialogues.
Mr. Ryan Camacho, Training Coordinator of Ateneo Gender Hub, explained that valuing and normalizing toxic masculinity makes it excusable and acceptable for society to be the ideal norm that should be followed. He emphasized the need to reconstruct what it means to be a ‘man’ and to strongly give value to alternative forms of masculinity. According to Mr. Ryan Silverio, Regional Director of ASEAN SOGIE Caucus, the ideology of patriarchal masculinity entails the superiority of masculinity over femininity, and authority of men over women. He suggested the need to engage society’s cultural scripts by inculcating empathy, reframing vulnerability, and practicing openness to confront toxic masculinity. Finally, Mr. Jason Del Rosario, the National Chairperson of Bukluran UP System, believes that incorporating alternative forms of masculinity in the early stages of development of a person should be practiced in order to break down this patriarchal or hegemonic masculinity. He also highlighted the importance of transformative justice as a community process of building support and safety for the persons harmed.
The open forum gave important key points on transforming society into a more safer and inclusive space for all genders. The speakers acknowledged that there is no easy way to dismantle hegemonic masculinity. However, they encourage people to exercise their power by collectively transforming unjust social practices and norms to confront toxic masculinity. As Prof. Aurora De Dios and Ms. Mary Ysabelle Samantha Chikiamco, President of CEDAW Youth MC Chapter, synthesized the topic in their closing remarks, unlearning masculinity is important in creating an inclusive, open, and gender equal society. Society needs to untangle gender with roles and traits. If women can pose masculine traits, so are men with feminine traits.
Written by: Maria Angelica J. Tamoria