Another joke? But the women are not laughing. Rather they find the latest remark of President Rodrigo Duterte offensive, vowing to give a zero-vote for his endorsed like-minded candidates.
The Center for Women’s Resources (CWR), a 37-year research and training institution for women, warns women of the danger of putting more macho and misogynistic politicians in power.
“We are never get used to the so-called sexist jokes of the President. And we will never allow more misogynists and copycats to assume into power,” CWR executive director Jojo Guan tells, citing the most recent incident that President let loose rude comments toward Garcia-Hernandez town Mayor Tita Baja-Gallantes in his speech during a campaign rally in Bohol.
“President Duterte uses his position to intimidate and degrade women, then he gets away with it. Worse, his endorsed candidates mimic his arrogance and coarseness, even while they are not in any position yet. They are like monsters waiting to be unleashed once they get elected,” Guan adds.
Guan notes the several instances where the president’s close allies and senatorial candidates made similar controversial sexist remarks towards women during campaign in the past. She recalls Francis Tolentino’s surprise gifts of girls during the 2016 elections; Ronald dela Rosa’s kiss-to-know-Kapampangan joke; and Bong Go’s ever-loyal defense of Duterte’s “jokes.”
Guan remarks that the unabated attacks against women perpetuate the disempowerment of women, showing the prevalence of the social power inequalities and feudal-patriarchal culture.
“The power play and hierarchy can be seen when women who are subjected to such ridicule often dismiss the lustful remarks as mere jokes and defend the culprits,” explains Guan, noting the recent reaction of Mayor Baja-Gallantes who dismissed the comment as ‘clearly a joke’.
“The unequal power relations between the women-victims and the President and or his allies could force women to simply shrug the sexist remark because they have already been disempowered by the mere shaming of someone who is in the upper status of the social hierarchy,” explains Guan.
“Although the Philippines constantly get a high rank for gender equality globally, the truth is there is still a long way to go for the empowerment of Filipino women. The social power inequalities still prevail, where a deeper negative attitude of tolerance of sexual harassment and preference for traditional gender roles persist,” adds Guan.
Guan, however, asserts that it is not too late for women to put an end to this worsening culture of silence and victim-blaming among women.
“As women, we can always reclaim our voices and assert our rights. As first step, we should remember who are the offenders. For instance, who among the president’s allies and aspiring officials are infamous for looking down on women’s worth and violating women’s rights,” Guan appeals. “President Duterte and his enabler allies are already too much to handle. We don’t need more sexist and misogynist people in the government. So on Monday, let us fill out our ballots and shade the names of candidates we want to win. Let those shaded ballots represent the demand of women to put a stop to misogyny and sexism under this government. Let us support leaders who, regardless of their gender, will respect women and will push the agenda of women,” Guan concludes. ###