When women of power in the Philippines abuse women who have no power
The broadest social stratification in the Philippines breaks the population into two distinct classes:
- The class of impunity, entitlement, wealth and power
- The class of working people with little opportunity, power, and wealth
As with any general characterization, there are bound to be exceptions. But this stratification works for the point I wish to make in this article.
This article is about Filipino women.
What is happening in the Philippines is an obscenity by international norms. Yet, here, a lot of people seem unaware that there is anything unusual going on. Even when they are hurt by it.
There are also two broad classes of women in the Philippines:
- The class of impunity, entitlement, wealth and power
- The class of abused, objectified, and used women
In the first class are high government officials – cabinet officials, legislators, judges, mayors, governors – as well as entertainment stars and an occasional notable business woman (the oligarchs are men). Also in the first group are the notable leftists who pretend to speak for the betterment of women, the most notorious collection of women’s rights advocates going by the name of Gabriela.
Prior to this year, I would have put Gabriela on the other side of the divide, with the class of abused women, as their representatives. But something happened this year . . . this campaign season . . . that gave the lie to this idea.
Gabriela threw its support behind presidential aspirant Mayor Rody Duterte of Davao.
They had a choice to make. Political interests or women’s interests. And Gabriela chose political interests. They sided with the New People’s Army (NPA) and their BFF, Rody Duterte. Never mind that this notorious group of gangsters, extortionists and murderers kills lawful members of the nation’s armed forces and police. And officials who don’t bend to their whims, and even innocent civilians.
Rody Duterte says he will welcome the NPA to his cabinet. And he advises people to pay their “taxes” to the NPA on demand.
Well, this Duterte fellow is quite a piece of work to us outsiders. He is a rare left-over arch-chauvinist from the 1950’s before modern social enlightenment worked its way around the world but largely skipped the Philippines. Duterte has shown that he is perhaps the most crass objectifier of women in the modern world. Some would say he is sick. I’m not a medical expert, so I will only say that his behavior would be considered disgusting to every educated, compassionate, pro-gender-equality woman I have ever known in my life. And most enlightened men, as well.
This Duterte fellow:
- Is a self confessed adulterer, woman beater and womanizer.
- Makes a joke about rape, saying the attackers should have let him go first.
- Kisses women who don’t want to be kissed.
- Fondles woman in public.
- Says pretty women are good for being assistants.
Gabriela backs Duterte, as does a certain Senator by the name of Pia Cayetano who claims to be an advocate for women’s rights. Her brother is Duterte’s Vice Presidential running mate, Senator Alan Cayetano.
Senator Pia Cayetano is Chairperson of the Senate Committee on Women, Children, Family Relations and Gender Equality. Her advocacy was exhibited in 2011 when she took Tourism Secretary Jimenez to task for downplaying the US Ambassador’s statement that 40% of American male tourists come to the Philippines for sex. She said:
“The Palace and Sec. Jimenez appear to be in a state of denial regarding the existence and continued proliferation of sex tourism in our country.” [Palace downplaying prostitution, sex tourism issue]
My how opportunity has turned the worm.
It is clear that Senator Pia Cayetano’s choices now line up this way:
- Politics and self-advantage
The Senator is using her position as legislator for personal gain. Not for the nobler gain of helping women. She is just another user, it seems to me. Worse than that, in backing Duterte as the nation’s highest official, she is willing to let him represent what the nation stands for.
So she not only supports an outdated chauvinist who sneers at, uses and abuses women, she thinks young girls across the Philippines will have a better life with Duterte as President.
With millions of men across the land emulating their leader.
What the nation will stand for under a Duterte presidency is the abuse, objectification and use of women.
- It will stand for backward.
- It will stand for ignorant.
- It will stand for obnoxious.
- It will stand for cruel.
Today, a lot of important women are standing silent while the likes of Gabriela and Pia Cayetano pursue their personal aims over the well-being of women. Or they stand silent as women governors and mayors back Duterte. They enable the enablers. I’m sure Senator Pia Cayetano and other women of stature believe they have earned their positions through good works and upstanding values. But when push comes to shove, they today are tossing aside the well-being of women for their own advantage.
Gabriela has issued a statement condemning the Duterte rape joke. Good for them. Senator Cayetano has said she will “reach out” to Duterte. Wow, that’s bold.
These things are like pasting a dab of salve on the sore while refusing to recognize there is a deep and dangerous rot within Duterte, and within their own values and decisions. Gabriella and Cayetano refuse to hold themselves accountable for enabling the horror of Duterte and his values toward women.
By the standards of the modern world – the outsiders to whom I write – the Philippines has a very weak social conscience.
Self-sacrifice for high human rights principles is not done in the Philippines. Impunity is done here.
It is incredible to this observer that mothers of girls would vote Duterte into office. There are women within both the powerful and the powerless classes who accept the subordination of women. They evidently like men with a certain macho flair.
Woe to the kids.
Truly, woe to the daughters.
Women of the powerless class in the Philippines are likely to be sealed to their fate . . . abuse, objectification and use . . . for yet another generation thanks to women of influence who turn away, who remain silent while a rape of Filipina humanity is going down.
Women of the Philippines can only be free and equal when all women, no matter the social class and power, are treated with respect by men and women everywhere.
With no exceptions.