Thursday, February 06, 2014

Project 52 2014 (5/52): R-e-s-p-e-c-t

.:Project 52 2014 (5/52): R-e-s-p-e-c-t:.


Real talk: I don't hesitate to call myself a feminist, even if I realize that I have my lapses here and there. To me, it's simple: there is still a lot of disparity between genders, and feminism strives for equality not only in ways that will diminish my current position of privilege as a cisgendered Filipino male in the Philippines, but also enhance it, by hopefully destroying restrictive gender roles and expectations that do more harm than good to everyone.

So it's with a lot of consternation that I find myself surrounded by people who completely missed the point of this piece about the Vhong-Deniece situation. Anyone who bothers actually reading the article would realize that this alarming trend of misogyny has always existed, but its reach has expanded with the rise of the internet and mass media before it. Anyone who bothers actually reading the article would also understand that if they don't feel in any way guilty of bashing Deniece Cornejo based on her gender, then the article simply isn't talking about them.

Apparently, that was simply me overestimating the ability of the average reader to know better than to hijack a discussion that isn't even about them at all. Until they start calling feminists both "feminazis" and "brain-damaged," which sort of betrays that they're actually just butthurt at being called out on their bull.

I'm so not affected, I will spend an entire blog entry saying why I'm not.


Everything surrounding the Vhong-Deniece case is a crying shame. I don't like it, I don't like that it dominates so much of the news, but if there's one thing important that came up because of it, it would clearly be the ridiculous double standards we seem to have for men and women. 

Let's face it: take away the rape accusation and the beatdown, and what you have here is a man who cheated on his girlfriend to have some sexy times with another woman. Yet when the battle lines are drawn, who gets called out for being promiscuous? Not Vhong Navarro, nuh-uh: it's Deniece who gets the brunt of all that. And let's say we put back in the whole beatdown into the picture, what do we see? Deniece gets all the gendered sexual slurs, but Cedric Lee gets next to none. Surely I'm not the only one noticing a pattern here, and it's alarming, to say the least.

Not to say that this is a double standard that is unique to the Philippines, but given the state of affairs in this country, you can be sure that people simply don't pay nearly as much attention to the issue because for the most part, Filipinos have yet to outgrow the notion that feminists are bra-burning closet lesbian man-haters. Our only exposure to feminists in mass media have been demonstrations by Gabriela, bereft of helpful context, as well as a bunch of straw feminists portrayed for laughs.

                                                          by Hark! A Vagrant!
Feminism does not work that way.


Sometimes, I really wonder why I bother going through comments sections of articles when I know the comments will just give me a headache. People don't understand what the problem is. They don't see what the problem is. They think that it should be a standard course of action to applaud a man with many conquests and to castigate a woman who does the same. Do one, or do the other: don't switch the standards around when the genders do.

It's hard to explain, really: what else should we be looking out for to fix in equality other than the obvious economic gap? Why is the RH Law issue a clear sign that gender equality is nowhere near as good as we assume it to be in this country? Well, these are questions few people will ever ask in their lives, much less when they have more pressing concerns.

The arguments against feminism have been so predictable and so rote that you can practically make a bingo card out of them already.

That wasn't even a joke.


Perhaps it's a case of obliviousness on the part of people in general, but it's tiresome. As we are inundated nonstop by the media firestorm surrounding the Vhong-Deniece issue, misogyny keeps on rearing its ugly head as we hear from people who clearly don't understand the point and think that feminists are complaining that a female is being castigated. Oh, if only that were the case. The thing is, the female is being castigated because she's a female. Furthermore, because she's female, we see it fit to sexualize our disdain for her.

Think back to all the hated female figures in Philippine society in recent times: we've poked fun at GMA for having breast implants. We've made sure to remind people that we think Nancy Binay is pretty much the epitome of unf*ckable, because she's ridiculously black. Kris Aquino is a slut.

Now, let's think back to the hated male figures in Philippine society in recent times: we poked fun at Erap for being an idiot. We've determined that Jejomar Binay is pretty much the epitome of "epal," not to mention ridiculously black. Noynoy Aquino is retarded.

Obviously, making fun of someone's complexion or apparent mental capabilities is pretty low as is, but Nancy Binay and Miriam get those, too, anyways. With that in mind, is it just me, or is there an alarming disparity here?

Am I glad I'm still too young to know how to read.


Everything boils down to this, really: nobody's saying women are untouchable. Nobody's saying we have no right to criticize women. Yet why does it seem like we always need to throw in a sexual barb somewhere to really "hit hard" when we wouldn't even consider doing the same thing to a man? 

Obviously, I'm not trying to say that we should throw even more sexual slurs all around, but isn't it a bit strange that most, if not all the sexual slurs we utilize are aimed specifically at women? Does this pattern not seem very alarming, at the very least? Again, Deniece and Cedrid are currently being flogged by the opinionated public. Yet why do we hear the sexual slurs only for Deniece, but not Cedric, or even Vhong, who was the other participant in the sex acts involving Deniece, to begin with?

Duct taaaaaaaape!


Could it be that this is all because people simply misunderstand what it is feminism is trying to do? That perhaps, people think that feminism is some kind of agenda meant to turn the patriarchy on its head and make a matriarchy out of it? But that's ludicrous. The whole aim of feminism is to fight for equality: to destroy oppressive systemic impositions that harm not just women, but men as well. Of course, that's how it goes if you go with what is mainstream and not the ridiculous extreme, but detractors of feminism seem to only care about the batsh!t insane types - all the while proving that by their sheer numbers, the batsh!t insane anti-feminists are the norm.

Think about that guy who bashed feminism and said he didn't hate women, contrary to what feminists were claiming. How long did it take before he started calling them "feminazis?" Oh, right. It didn't take very long, of course. That's really par for the course, apparently.

There's also this unironic use of a functional oxymoron, by the by.


There really isn't anything else I want to say about the Vhong-Deniece issue. And while I honestly couldn't care less if nobody ever talked about it again, I really feel that it is high time to at least float the idea of feminism in Philippine society not just from the great women who have become the voice for that movement all these years, but from those who profess to be allies as well. We can't all be allies just sitting around passively and hoping that people would get a clue. We can't all hope that these people wake up to the irony of fighting for "freedom of speech" to be as offensively misogynistic as they want, and then silencing people who don't like what they have to say in the same breath.

I don't need a cookie. I don't need praise, or even a pat in the back. All I need is to stand up and be counted. I am Kel Fabie, and I am a Filipino feminist.

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