My Predominantly Catholic Country Perpetuates Rape Jokes and Rape Culture

Here are a few things you should know about the religions in the Philippines.

  1. We take pride in being the only Christian nation in Asia
  2. 86 percent of our population are Roman Catholics
  3. 6 percent are Christian
  4. 2 percent are Protestant
  5. 4 percent are Muslim, and
  6. 2 percent follow non-Western, indigenous beliefs and practices

Source: Center for Global Education, Asia Society

Here are some things you should know about the modern culture of the Filipino people:

  1. We are still pretty conservative: although more and more young couples live together before/without getting married, they are still subject to gossip, mostly in the province. Our parents still expect girls to be virgins until they are married, a bun in the oven before the wedding is still frowned upon. Young millennials, despite their more liberal outlook, still attach themselves to the culture of pretend chastity thrust upon them by their parents.
  2. We abhor anything religion adheres as wrong: We are the only country in the world that does not allow divorce, other than the Vatican. Domestic abuse cases be damned, you’re going to be married to an apparent abuser for life. Not really, there’s annulment, but annulment and divorce are two very different, very messy things.
  3. Our society is stricter than our “liberal” Pope: Earlier today, the Pope announced that he’s extending indefinitely the power of Catholic priests to forgive abortions (CNN) but here, never EVER admit to having one, even for a good reason. Abortion is illegal in the Philippines, too, the only excuse being if the pregnancy is a risk to the mother’s life. So yes, if you get raped, you can’t legally abort the child of your rapist.

Speaking of rape…

Long before Rodrigo Duterte became our president, and long before Donald Trump said that “grab the pussy” remark, the Philippines as a nation have been very candid about rape culture.

In fact, for a country that’s almost backwards in its Catholicism, we’re more than okay with making rape jokes and harassing women and LGBTIQ on the streets.

So no, non-Duterte folks can’t put that on him. Although I am not sure if it’s just gotten worse because of how he portrays himself in public. I’ve actually seen girls cry as of late because of men wolf-whistling them, or harassing them on the streets. And no, they are not really being subtle about it.

I even heard a man tell a girl once (probably a high-school or college kid) to sit on his lap, baby, because the jeep is already full. It was horrifying. The sad part? This is an everyday occurrence.

Have you ever been told by your own parents not to ignore the men who catcall you on the street and just be nice to them because offending them might lead to worse things for you? I have. And I still refused to smile at any men who whistles or catcalls to me or my friends.

For all the “friendliness” of the Filipinos to foreigners, they rarely extend it to their own. And I used to think this happens only because a vast number of our population are uneducated, but apparently, that is not the case.

The 2016 Political Turmoil

This year had been particularly noisy in its political aspect. As a non-partisan, I found that I was actually waiting for particular issues to hit for me to force to take my stand. Early this year, I found that I am the only one in my family voting for my president. She may have already gone on, but my respect for her remained unceasing.

Post-election, doubters remained doubters, a massive number of supporters became practically fanatics, while some lost their confidence in the president they voted for. (I tend to talk to taxi drivers especially when we get stuck in traffic, and a few of those who I spoke with actually used the term “regret”, but like I said, SOME.)

Then, there was the issue about former president Ferdinand Marcos being buried at the Libingan ng mga Bayani (Heroes’ Cemetery).

I applaud the projects done by the Marcoses under their regime, I do, but I also do not believe that he has to be buried at the LNMB because, well, first and foremost, he was a dictator who was ousted from office due to the thousands of human rights violations that was done during the time of the Martial Law, not to mention taking away the freedom of speech that most people enjoy today.

The fight between the pro- and anti-Marcos groups, however, elevated far too much and far too fast — and the heated argument has become quite violent online. While I won’t toss this off as the norm, there are a lot of them — online and off — that we can’t call them a “small” minority either.

Take a look at some of these misogynistic comments:

https://www.facebook.com/plugins/post.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2FMadamClaudiaAko%2Fposts%2F1812454819009990&width=500https://www.facebook.com/plugins/post.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2FMadamClaudiaAko%2Fposts%2F1811915879063884&width=500Okay, those are pretty vile, but what does religion have anything to do with it?This is where I bring back the statements regarding the religions in the Philippines. Remember the Ten Commandments?

In the Exodus 20:14, it was outlined as one of the commandments:

“Thou shalt not commit adultery.”

Remember that adultery applies to a person having sex with another while married. Besides, as explained in the gospels, Jesus Christ himself affirmed the statement, adding in Matthew 5:28 that:

“But I say to you, anyone who looks on a woman to lust after her
has committed adultery with her already in his heart.”

Maybe this new law, if passed, could be the answer to this problem:

https://www.facebook.com/plugins/post.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2FCNNPhilippines%2Fposts%2F1818845428355348&width=500

Not a safe space

Again, not a generalization. I have friends and know so many people who have been raised right and are also fighting for the rights of women and the LGBTIQ community, but this is the Philippines that I see today:

I live in a country of misogynists, where harassment of women is tossed off as “boys will be boys” and that we have to be responsible for myself so as not to get raped.

I live in a country where parents teach girls to hide their bodies, and to not exert our beliefs, in order to keep “men” from sin.

I live in a country where attacking women and threatening us with rape when they cannot argue with their logic is perfectly logical.

Remember, we, women have more than enough on our plates without machismo privilege adding another notch of the things we have to burden ourselves with.

We are a country that cries Christianity without our sense of humanity.

There has to be something wrong with that.

PS in case the embeds don’t work here are the links as they appear:
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