Gender studies allow us to rethink and reshape our lives.
It enables one to question and understand the existence of terms like “sexuality” and the history that they possess. It creates a sense of openness towards each individual through education. To respect each individual despite the differences they may have; it is where they learn to accept diversity as the norm of today and help create a future of inclusivity.
Discovering different aspects of ourselves helps us piece together our identity. For example, “What or who do we truly desire?” This question should be answered in averse to the ‘biased’ perspective of certain constructs. As Blumenfield and Raymond assert, “Sexuality as more than merely a behavior but is rather an aspect of personal identity which strongly influences the ways people live their lives and view the world at large. The term “heterosexual,” “homosexual,” and “bisexual” are then, labels which refer not only to sexual behaviors but also to the persons who engage in those behaviors” (77).
Such is the importance of having a strong sense of identity for one’s self. Through finding one’s identity, it is easier to positively define and perceive oneself. Michael Tan confirms that the medicalization of homosexuality is a modern ideal (203). Learning this enables us to realize that it is a social construction and therefore be careful about what it claims to be true. This opens up the eyes of the public to the misconceptions that society has created towards the idea of homosexuality. Also, discovering this can help homosexuals feel if not at home, but at least safe within their own society. Without the perceived notion of believing that there is something wrong with them, they are given a chance to live a better life.
Gender studies give us the opportunity to explore different depths amidst our own familial, cultural, or social expectations. To realize what it can be to tackle or understand one’s own identity and personal gender preference. As Garcia said, “Good or bad this is truthfully — this time truth is a provisional and more persona’s fiction — how gay life in this neocolonized world ought increasingly to be seen” (xv). Our own identity should never subordinate to the viewpoints of the society in itself. Genders do not merely tackle one’s gender. It reflects one’s own experiences regarding race, ethnicity, class, and globalism. To see ourselves as part of the community and gain feelings of belongingness and motivation.
It is one’s right to be respected and hopefully, accepted by the other. Gender awareness is important given that it teaches us to realize that each gender has its right to exist. Such as the Filipino gays who are mocked and derided as a lesser being called, ‘bakla.‘ This makes the word into a derogatory lesser meaning. They are even considered as a funny joke or an amusement. Apart from that, gay existence has become an inherent problem to others due to religious beliefs of misconception. Michael Tan expresses this concern, “In society such as the Philippines, we face a double dilemma where religious dogmatism condemns what used to be “normal” (not necessarily normative) behavior as sinful” (209). The coming out process of the gay, thus, becomes a challenge due to prejudiced constructions.
This highlights the importance of gender awareness. Its benefits will pave the way for future generations to be more open-minded. The Philippines and its traditions can well be prosperous with both not only economical but also spiritual while simultaneously accepting gays, lesbians, transgenders, and other genders. Our country is adamant in its beliefs such as having a head or breadwinner in each home, the man, while the woman takes care of the children and does tasks at home. By better educating the youth today through gender studies, our future can be much more liberal and non-restricting, a vision of an accepting Filipino community.
(Written in the year 2017)
Bergman, David. Homosexual Discourse. University of Texas Press, 1991.
Blumenfield Warren and Diane Raymond. Looking at Gay and Lesbian Life. Beacon Press, 1993.
Garcia Neil. Philippine Gay Culture: The Last Thirty Years. University of Philippines Press, 1996.
Tan, Micheal. “Sickness and Sin: Medical and Religious Stigmatization of Homosexuality in the Philippines.”
Ladlad: An Anthropology of Philippine Gay Writing. Anvil, 1994.