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The Double Standard Of Morality

The growing financial independence of working mothers is bringing about a change in the double standard of morality. Looking back to early Philippine society a single standard was once prevalent and the aggrieved wife could always file for a divorce without prejudice to her social standing. The centuries of Spanish rule changed this system and any non-marital relationship was considered infidelity. However, the restriction applied only to women; men could carry on discreet extramarital relations which were generally termed the "querida system". Thus, the so called "double standard of morality" was established. As long as extramarital activities were quiet and discreet wives tolerated it in the hope that they were just flings and eventually the husbands would return.

According to recent findings marital infidelity seems to have become more open. Mistresses seem to be accepted by society as they appear on TV and radio shows with various celebrities discussing the situation. Movies often have the theme of infidelity on the part of wives. This was not "acceptable" in the past. Various factors in society may promote permissiveness. Western ideas and values are easily transmitted through mass media employment of women brings the sexes in close proximity in job situations the presence of motels and hotels where lovers can go plus the availability of contraceptive knowledge and technology which removed the fear of pregnancy have all contributed to infidelity.

Dr. Lourdes Lapuz maintains that women are losing patience with the double standard and are looking for security and fulfillment in marriage. Mina Ramirez says that the querida system has produced two reactions in wives. The wife may accept the situation as a part of the painful reality of married life and so adopt a martyr complex and remain silent as long as the husband continue to support the children. On the other hand, a growing number of professional and working women who are able to support themselves and their children may wish to be as free in sexual matters as the Filipino male. The first reaction occurs more with lower and middle class women, while the second reaction is observed more frequently among upper and upper middle classes. This trend will undoubtedly affect the atmosphere of the home and, inevitably, the children.

Family and the Larger Society

When one grows up in a system which stresses loyalty to a large family group at is easy to give this family loyalty greater stress than loyalty to the nation or to abstract ideals of justice. Nepotism (the favoring of relatives) is to be expected when it is taken for granted that members of the family always pull together. Both private business and public life suffer from a persistent feeling that individual capacity is less important than the obligation to help the members of one's family.

Similarly, the failure of welfare institutions to gain effective support either from private contributions or governmental appropriation is at least partly related to the demands of the family group. Many Filipino families assist poor relatives. The "family burden" may well incline the individual to believe that when he has taken care of his needy relatives, he has met his charitable obligations and thus he is blinded to the plight of those whose needs are not met within the family system.

The Future of the Filipino Family in a Changing Society

The Filipino family will have to keep pace with the changes brought about by modernization. A change in technology, in the system of education, in economic development, and in the political and social spheres of life will bring about corresponding shifts in the mores of the family. The spread of mass media and exposure to industrialization and urbanization will inevitably create clashes between tradition and modernization.

Families must prepare themselves for a serious reexamination of values and practices. In many instances, they will have to break with the past and adjust to the future. There is enough evidence of the viability of the Filipino family to make this adjustment and to ensure its survival. The function of the family is being more and more absorbed by other social institutions such as the church and the school, but the family will remain as a great source of emotional and psychological satisfaction.

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