Daily Archives: June 8, 2016

MORE ON DUTERTESPEAK

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June 08, 2016

MORE ON DUTERTESPEAK

By Allie Escandor

(Note: We published this article of Allie Escandor for public information. Editing is ours.–Editors)

Sorry people, but we’re conflating the misogynistic for the irreverent. The latter, “irreverent language”, has a function in our society, especially where skewed power relations are justified by the language of the “educated and politically correct”.

So I appreciate the Cebuano “yaga-yaga” poems, or the Visayan libidinous jokes or the kanto-gangsta-ghetto culture. I laugh at the profanities hurled by Heneral Antonio Luna in cinema. Or Rogelio L. Ordoñez who wields irreverent language to fight back.

You can say puke, titi, ari, kiki, pekpek, buday, penis, vagina and I won’t so much as blink. These do not offend me. But when you shame a woman because her vagina is “smelly”, when you insult a man by calling on his wife’s vagina, when you mock rape by saying “napakaganda…ang mayor ang mauna”, or when a valid question is shot down by a cavalier catcall (would that have been the same response from the President had it been a male reporter asking the same question?), then I take offense.

Misogynistic statements are plain misogynistic, and should have no place in our society. We must call it out for what it is, just as we have to call out rape as rape, objectification as objectification, bodyshaming as bodyshaming, and illusions of entitlement as just that, illusions.

These things occur in a very specific context and in a very specific culture in which men dominate women, sometimes in ways we don’t even notice and in ways we’ve come to accept.

Heck, I grew up in Cagayan de Oro, studied in Davao, but misogynist culture is the same there as it is in Manila where I now live. I’ve been whistled at on the streets, groped in public places, and schooled on the “the manners of a lady”.

At the age 6, I’ve been told not to go gallivanting to the beach alone because the boys will whistle; at the age of 13 I’ve been groped at in a jeepney ride from Mintal to Matina, Davao; at the age of 16, I’ve been groped at again in the car of a stranger pretending to ask for directions, while I, a freshie at UP Diliman, floundered for the words and thoughts to explain the terror of that experience; at the age of 28, being stared at in public and told to “cover up” because I was breastfeeding my daughter in public.

It is this terror and shame that have shaped my relationship with my body, my personal worth, my journey from girlhood to womanhood to motherhood. The terror and shame, doesn’t really stop, whether I am 6 or 28, or in Davao or Manila. Unspoken but ever present.

I have known the vocabulary of patriarchy years before I was introduced to the women’s movement, so please don’t dismiss “feminist” as “just a Western concept”.

Defending misogyny as part of “irreverent culture”, indeed even sentimentalising it as local behavior, provides the impetus for the wide acceptance of serious crimes across the spectrum of gender-based violence. It normalizes the experience of violence of a 6-year-old girl who resents her being a girl because she cannot play at the beach alone, it normalizes the experience of fear of a 13-year-old in Davao who guards a body that can be groped, it normalizes the experience of terror of a 16-year-old in Manila for having been duped into a car, it normalizes the experience of shame of a 28-year-old whose breasts are really no more than sexual objects and must be covered up.

It normalizes the experience of disempowerment of all women who feel they have no control over their body, or who measure their self-worth by the “male gaze”, or who powder their vaginas to make it neat and clean lest these dishonor their husbands or boyfriends.

These days, I agonize over the President’s statements. As much as the 16 million Filipinos who voted for him do, I too fervently, genuinely hope thatPresident Rodrigo Duterte will succeed and bring peace, justice and prosperity.

I think his pro-women and anti-VAW ordinances in Davao are crucial and milestones in themselves. But, with all due respect, these ordinances were already in place but did not so much as dissuade those groping hands, lusty wiles, disparaging stares.

Rape culture and patriarchy are well and alive, and political reality 101 will tell you that it will take much more than legislation to ensure that women and girls can live with dignity and without the violence that their sex engenders to them.

It will take the active and persistent efforts of both men and women, including the President, to shoot it down once and for all by words, by actions, and by example.

So how about let’s see to it that, in the next 6 years of this administration, we bring patriarchy down and be as irreverent as we want while doing it. :-)

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