Vessels, Drama Bombs, Gender Stereotypes etc.

Is it just me being a rabid feminist or am I actually on to something?

You see, on the TCCP (Tariff and Customs Code of the Philippines), I noticed that aircrafts, ships or any other vessel for transportation is generally referred to as ‘she’ or ‘her’, whereas it’s automatically assumed that the one manning the said vessel or the one that’s addressed in any shipping, tax, import or export laws for compliance and execution is male.

This has bothered me for quite a while ever since I got my first major subject last semester that dealt with volume II of the TCCP. I put it aside eventually as some minor concern compared to my impending examinations. It was quickly forgotten.

But the issue resurfaced recently after having this particular conversation with my parents about the profession I chose. I dropped by the store just as my mom and dad were having lunch and the topic generally veered toward matters concerning my course.

As much as I love my mom, she has this sense of being insensitive when it comes to talking (or am I just too sensitive on a lot of topics?). When there’s someone dealing with loss, someone suffering from trauma etc., she’s likely to go on a tirade about something that wasn’t intended to hurt, but actually does.

I knew it was in her best intentions to say that I had to pass the licensure exams with top marks. Keyword here is ‘had’, like it’s a requirement, and simply passing would render such achievement as invalid. It’s great to have high goals and all, really, but I wanted it to be mine. Something I wanted for myself, not another achievement I did for someone else’s approval (again. And again. And again.).

Anyway, I let it pass. Typical mom.

But one more thing I sort of dislike about mom is her tendency to be sexist.

Keep in mind that it was her who insisted I take up customs administration, with the pretense of making me choose my own course but actually pushing me to take this or that. I had no qualms though. I’m pretty neutral about most stuff concerning my own life so I don’t really have ‘passions’ to speak of. I accepted the course. Started to like it. Prepared to do it with the ‘diligence of a good father’.

So naturally I was flabbergasted when she told me that eventually I had to take up law after passing my licensure exam, since customs administration was a great pre-law course. Reason? Customs administration is not a course for women.

Ignoring the fact that she, once again, is hell bent on fulfilling her own stunted dreams on my behalf, I was offended about the idea that no matter how fucking good I was, no matter how hard I tried, society would still deem me insufficient and vulnerable. That was why I had to make it to the top ranks, according to her. If I passed, I would not be good enough. I needed a title greater than usual to even be respected and considered equal to a guy.

My dad retaliated by saying there are a lot of women in customs too. That a female broker’s papers are processed faster than a man’s. He abruptly stopped and did not press the issue further. In my family, I got my father’s heated temper, general indifference, and reluctance to show worry and affection. He would never outwardly talk about it, but I knew somewhere along the conversation, the fact that when her daughter graduates, she’d be subjected to harassment did enter his mind. It’s an awkward topic for both of us.

I went back to our other house, a stone throw away from the store, feeling affronted.

I can be good at my job, I thought. Why do I have to be subjected to stereotyping, of all things? It’s something I’ve avoided all my life, choosing to act less feminine, not quite masculine. Just a grey area where the opposite gender doesn’t fancy you, but neither do they group you with the third sex.

I just feel helpless I guess. Not because I’m female and in line with the belief that I’m not fit for my chosen profession, but about the fact that most people would never believe that I am.

I’m a sucker for recognition. Knowing someone out there thinks I might not be that great in doing this or that without even seeing what I do kills my newfound enthusiasm a little. I don’t know. I was raised this way, I guess. I feed on praise.

I wish I was just born with a dick and a flat chest. Society’s stigma would have been so lenient on me then.

So why are vessles referred to as ‘she’ and the pilot ‘he’? Maybe I wouldn’t be so outraged if we’re talking about pirates and sailors stuff here when it turns out that it has a perverse connotation, but it’s written law for godsake. It’s supposed to take everyone on equal terms.

Off to some pointless research.

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