My mother is waging a war against the Filipino bad habit of objectifying women.

It all began with a Ms. World Event sponsored by Banco De Oro. This is an invite-only event which is BDO’s effort to impress, entertain and enhance their ties with their clients. Since we do business with them, last week, my mom received word of the event since BDO called to inform us.

My mom couldn’t go so I was the shoo-in replacement. I was excited. I’ve been invited to actually participate in pageants in the past so this kind of thing always intrigues me. That day, over lunch with both my parents, we discussed it in passing. We decided that I would go. My dad said he received a text from the BDO representative inviting him to the exclusive event. My dad declined. In response, the BDO rep said “sayang, maraming maganda doon” which, in English(for my friends abroad), translates to “too bad, there’s lots of pretty women there.”

I felt weird about this. My instant thought was “who cares if there are pretty women there? What kind of event is that?” Isn’t that statement highly suggestive and extremely inappropriate?

It gets worse.

The next day we discovered that when our staff had tried to RSVP my attendance, the people at the bank said that it’s exclusive, I’m female and I might feel out of place. Things then became clear, they only wanted men at this event. The reasoning behind this was that the guys will judge the contestants. Huh? If we are going according to that logic, then shouldn’t the women judge the female contestants? By nature, women are critical of other women and quite harsh. So wouldn’t we be in the best position to judge those in our gender?

Let me spell it out for you. An exclusive event with Ms. World Pageant contestants and a male-only guest list? This sounded fishy to me. I’m familiar with the many colorful ways that banks(or any business) entertain their clients, (read: stripclubs) this feels just as sleazy as that except.. glorified.

Now there’s tons of questions running through my mind.

  • Why can’t there be women at this event?
  • What on earth will the male clientele be doing with the female contestants that I, as a potential female attendee, cannot witness?
  • Is BDO offering their new and improved matchmaking service to complement their low interest loans?
  • Are they trying to get these women to flirt and seduce their way into our pockets?
  • Am I supposed to do business with these people just because they showed me some sexy women?
  • Whatever happened to Gender Equality? What about some hunky, sexy guys for the bank’s female clientele? (I’m kidding by the way. I don’t want to do business with a bank that resorts to shameless sex appeal for my money)
  • Doesn’t the bank realize that these men are fathers, husbands, boyfriends, sons, fiances, wouldn’t that be disrespectful to their families?

I don’t think this is very professional. This was a tasteless and cheap marketing scheme. I didn’t feel very valued. If there is a joke somewhere in this situation, I don’t think it’s funny.

Now back to the war against objectifying women. I suppose the female contestants are pawns. They are not girlfriends, wives, sisters, mothers or people. They exist purely to appeal to the visual senses of the male gender, who in this case are the sources of business. The sight of these girls is supposed to schmooze them to keep them happy and get their business? If you were the wife, daughter, girlfriend, sister of one of these men or the mother, father, brother of one of these female contestants, would you be okay with this?

It’s not just the bank, it’s not just this event, it’s not that my mother is a scorned jealous wife (because my dad did nothing wrong and there’s nothing to be jealous of.) It is this bad habit of disregarding women and the lack of respect for the relationships between men and women. It’s a small example of the deep-seated institution of the Filipino way of appealing to the man at the expense of his wife/girlfriend. It’s downright inappropriate and grossly disrespectful. Just because everyone does it, doesn’t make it right.

If this is happening to you, in your life, fight it, people. Fight it. In a world where relationships deteriorate by the second, it doesn’t help to keep silent and watch it happen to you. Speak up. It’s not about being overly jealous, sensitive or protective. Let them know it is not right for them to shamelessly joke around with your significant other (any gender) at your expense or in complete disregard for your relationship together. The world could do without this bad habit.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this. Feel free to leave a comment and/or answer our poll.

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One Response to Filipino bad habits

  1. jane says:

    i took introduction to women studies class as a general education for my undergraduate. beauty contests are shallow and stereotype women. they set beauty standards based solely on male gaze

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