June 13, 2024

HER SIDE OF THE COURT | How do you expect a woman to be? On Trisha Tubu, Regine Diego, and how women are boxed in

HER SIDE OF THE COURT | How do you expect a woman to be? On Trisha Tubu, Regine Diego, and how women are boxed in
Art by One Sports

It’s 2023. AI generators can imagine the Pope wearing Balenciaga, but it seems people still have a hard time imagining the different ways to be a woman.

UAAP super rookie Trisha Tubu of the Adamson University Lady Falcons is having a season most athletes would dream about. But instead of praising her achievements, netizens criticize her athletic build and deep voice, and a tabloid described her as “parang lalaki.”

This betrays several things: First, the lingering tendencies to judge female athletes by their looks. It was less than ten years ago that articles ranking female athletes’ looks were commonplace in sports media. Top 10 hottest players. Girls who look good even while playing. Guess the volleybelle just by looking at her body. (All real headlines, folks!)

Second, it reveals the gender biases that persist in society at large. Why are strong women described as “parang lalaki,” if not because of a belief that women are necessarily weaker than men? Why do people question Trisha’s femininity, if not because of a rigid box of what womanhood is?

On the other hand, Coach Regine Diego of F2 Logistics Cargo Movers—the first female coach in Philippine pro volleyball, and a podium finisher at that—is also facing criticism from netizens for wearing a full face of makeup. We’ve seen this play out not just in sports, but in other industries as well. In the average corporate job, women every day run a mental calculation of how their looks affect how they are perceived. “Too girly” and you won’t be taken seriously. “Too masculine” and they question your womanhood.

The question women face every day is, “So, saan ba kami lulugar?” But maybe, society needs to be asking itself some hard questions.

How about you, reader? Have you ever seen a woman play well and said “parang lalaki maglaro” without examining your own gender biases? Have you ever seen a woman wearing makeup at work and assumed she wasn’t “serious” without questioning what lipstick has to do with competence?

In your mind, what do you expect a woman to be? And why must every woman—there are 3.9 billion of us, just so you know—fit within that box?