Sunday, March 09, 2014

A dream of Tootsie

WHAT’S missing in the music video that Google Doodle made to mark International Women’s Day (IWD) 2014 last Mar. 8?

The musical collage of women’s pictures and greetings from all over the world made me miss immediately one thing: the men.

On a day when purple ribbons are worn or displayed to symbolize the struggles women hurdled and still face, I am always reminded of our partners who share the burden or add to it.

This year, the United Nations chose the theme, “Equality for women is progress for all”.

In an ideal world, I dream that the men are not out of the picture. They are very much in it but also a little bit more like and yet unlike my sisters and I. Kind of like another sister, only more hairy and with balls.

In the 1982 film by Sydney Pollack, Dustin Hoffman plays an actor who crossdresses to get a woman’s role in a soap opera. He learns that waxing one’s legs to achieve perfect smoothness isn’t the only test our sex faces.

Wanted: parents (of all genders).

When Mandaluyong City enacted last February an ordinance creating the Code of Parental Responsibility (CPR), which penalizes parents for their misbehaving children, a local TV network interviewed local mothers for their reactions.

What about the fathers?

It’s hard to conclude if the reporter was gender-blind or lazy. We’re no longer an agricultural economy where the men are away to put food on the table and the women are left to take care of the laundry, farm animals and children.

When left to their own devices, men are creative at parenting. Two couples entered an eatery where the husband and I were having dinner. While waiting for a free table and for their female partners to finalize their orders, the men played with the toddlers, a girl and a boy. By play, I mean they also conversed with the children.

Finally, when they were seated, one of the men hushed the adults who were about to tackle their chopsticks because the boy piped in that he wanted to say grace. A man who expresses himself and listens just as well: beyond perfect, by my standard.

In public places, the one device parents should leave home is a baby stroller. Once, mass was interrupted by a family that came late. Walking to the last chairs left near the pulpit was, first, the mother carrying a sleeping tot, followed by the father, and, trailing behind like an actor who forgot his cue, was the slight figure of a helper hauling a contraption that opened into a pram.

Mother arranges their Baby in the pram. Helper gets a fan from a baby bag from the depths of the pram’s multiple pockets. Mother flicks away an insect from sleeping babe. These are the scenes that stole the thunder from the Lord’s sacrifice being replayed at the altar.

But the final scene had yet to be played. The man looks critically at the pram, pushes and pulls this until it doesn’t block the aisle, and directs the helper to sit. Ah! Enter the Driver and Director of the family.

With 15 minutes left to the mass, I wonder why he didn’t let his sleeping scion rest and snuggle on those broad manly shoulders. It seems a shame to waste all that strength only on parallel parking with a mini-person carrier.

Yet, the best gift a man can give a woman not just on IWD is a daily exemption from having to do Malicious Math. In a riveting interview this week with “Mareng Winnie” Monsod in the GMA News TV program, “Bawal ang Pasaway,” Cristina Ponce Enrile talked candidly about her Johnny, whom she shared with 38 others during 56 years of marriage, or approximately starting on the sixth month after she gave birth to their first child.

In “Tootsie,” Hoffman was out of work and desperate enough to pretend to be a woman. In actual life, where is the man who will swap places with women?

“Cuckold” is the husband of an adulteress. Can anyone tell me if language has an equivalent word for the wife of an adulterer? Like parenting, cheating can cut many ways.

A dictionary rule: what’s not named doesn’t exist. Cheater, cheated, betrayer, betrayed. Thy name is Woman? I’d like to retreat back to my dream now, if I may.

( 09173226131)

* First published in Sun.Star Cebu’s Mar. 9, 2014 issue of the Sunday editorial-page column, “Matamata”

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