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:

“Wannabe” Gets an Awesome Remix

So Victoria Beckham shared this song from when she was a Spice Girl — and it was remade to empower women.

Okay, if you’re a 90s kid, this was totally your jam (in a rather inappropriate way) but this remake video as a move to end violence against women and children, as well as a call for equal rights — this made the song that more awesome.

In case you did not get the messages because you were singing along, here they are:

END VIOLENCE AGAINST GIRLS

1

QUALITY EDUCATION FOR ALL GIRLS

2

END CHILD MARRIAGE

3

EQUAL PAY FOR EQUAL WORK

4

These are great messages, especially considering how many countries do not have these rights for women, and for people who have to remember that having these rights make them privileged compared to a significant number of women on the planet.

So what do you really, really want?

Above all, be the heroine of your life, not the victim

If I had the grace to say that, I would. However, it is Nora Ephron who put it so gallantly.

I would have just done a Beyonce and ask (in a rather undignified way) “Who run the world?!”

But whether or not you are running the world, March 8 is International Women’s Day, and for that, let us celebrate being women.

Let me tell you about myself: I am a somewhat Obsessive-Compulsive Type A Millennial.
I am also Asian, a nerd, and I advocate for the LGBT community.
Oh, and I grew up on Disney, but no, getting married and having kids isn’t on my priority list.

Where am I going with this? In so many ways, I am the type of person who could definitely be discriminated against.

Type A? Bitch.
Asian nerd? Well duh, you’re Asian. (No, I’m a bookworm, not a math or science whiz, deal with it.)
LGBT equality supporter? Gay. (For the record, I don’t think I am, but if there’s anything, I could be Bi.)

Not planning to put down roots? But you’re a woman, there’s nothing more rewarding. (As if I need to get pregnant to validate my femininity.)

What’s difficult about being a woman even in this day and age, is that you have to fit a certain mold, or live a certain life. Sure, for the most part, women are given their freedom, and the fight for gender equality is still ongoing.

And that’s where things are still wrong. Why is it that even in these modern times, there is still a fight for gender equality?

If a man takes charge, he’s being a man and doing what’s expected of him. He’s a leader. If it were a woman taking charge and telling you what to do, she’s a crazy b*tch.

If a man is knowledgeable about certain things, well, good for him for sharing his thoughts and ideas. If a woman knows more, she’s a competitive c*nt who is trying to embarrass the males of the species.

Being gay could be appalling to homophobics, but ask them if they are okay with having sex with a couple of lesbians and they’d be okay with it because girl on girl action is sexy.

NO! it’s because sexism, damnit.

And the last one? The last one is the worst because a “man” could be a bachelor at 40 and nobody would bat an eyelash. If you’re a woman in your early 20s and single, people want to pair you up with anyone. “Time to lower those standards!” By the time you’re in your mid- to late twenties, they panic. And when you’re 30 and unmarried you’re going to be the crazy cat lady.

God forbid if you’re not a mom, you just won’t have a fulfilled life.

Oh no, world, I am not falling for that. I am the heroine of my life, and I will write it as it is.

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Being type A does not necessarily mean I’m a bossy obsessive compulsive. I take charge because if I don’t, things won’t get done on schedule and I don’t know about you but time is kind of very important.

I am smart because I stock up on books and read news and have a wide array of interests. There is more to being a woman than just nod and say “yes” to whatever men have to say.

It’s the twenty-first century, stop sexualizing women. The difficult part is that a lot of women don’t have enough respect for themselves and find that being sexual gets them the attention they think they need. I am talking about those people who need to post provocative photos on their social media networks just to get a lot of “likes” and lewd comments. And EL James, shame on you and your book.

And for those who ever dreamed of a threesome with a couple of lesbians? Put it this way, your girlfriend invites a random dude to have sex with both of you. If that makes you cringe, then why the heck do you think a threesome with gay girls is okay?

Finally, no, being a woman does not mean I have to serve a husband and be a mom. Why would I want to spend my days being someone’s wife when I’m never really domestic in the first place? Why would I want to bring a screaming baby to see the dismal state of the world?

My definition of a fulfilling life is putting as much into it as I possibly could by experiencing the world, not be stuck at home and taking care of a husband and kids (although I am not saying I am against that completely. I grew up on Disney, I like that definition of Happy Ever After, too).

And if taking care of others is the question, I am a 23-year-old who has already changed lives, and not in a “Thank you for being my friend” kind of way, but in a “you inspired me” and “you helped me through the worst days” kind of way from people I don’t even know.

I have saved men more than I needed them to save me.

So no, being a woman does not mean I have to fit in to the mold that the world has offered me to fit into. No matter how much you’d like to portray me as the weaker sex, I am stronger than you believe me to be.

I am a woman, I am the writer of my own story, I am the heroine of the life I am living, and I am more than just a pretty face. It would do you well to understand that.

March 8 is International Women’s Day, and for every woman out there who feels like she needs to fit in a certain way of living because society tells her so, it’s the twenty-first century.

It’s time to break the mold.

Happy International Women’s Day!

Inspiring Change

The world has celebrated a special day for women since the beginning of the 20th Century — this was during a time when women were still not allowed to vote, and Marie Curie was yet to receive her Nobel Prize.

Later on,  in 1975, the United Nations marked March 8 as International Women’s Day, and it has been celebrated by women’s rights activists across the world since then.

This year, IWD is about inspiring change, and the Official United Nations theme is “Equality for women is progress for all.”

Here is a message from the United Nations Secretary General:

This International Women’s Day, we are highlighting the importance of achieving equality for women and girls not simply because it is a matter of fairness and fundamental human rights, but because progress in so many other areas depends on it.

Countries with more gender equality have better economic growth.  Companies with more women leaders perform better.  Peace agreements that include women are more durable.  Parliaments with more women enact more legislation on key social issues such as health, education, anti-discrimination and child support.

The evidence is clear: equality for women means progress for all.

This simple truth must be central as we work to accelerate progress towards the Millennium Development Goals by next year’s deadline and craft an agenda for the years beyond 2015.

Important gains have been made in access to primary education for girls and political representation by women.  But progress remains far too slow and uneven.

A baby girl born today will still face inequality and discrimination, no matter where her mother lives.  We have a common obligation to ensure her right to live free from the violence that affects one in three women globally; to earn equal pay for equal work; to be free of the discrimination that prevents her from participating in the economy; to have an equal say in the decisions that affect her life; and to decide if and when she will have children, and how many she will have.

I have a message for every girl born today, and to every woman and girl on the planet:  Realizing human rights and equality is not a dream, it is a duty of governments, the United Nations and every human being.
I also have a message for my fellow men and boys: play your part.  All of us benefit when women and girls – your mothers, sisters, friends and colleagues — can reach their full potential.

Together, let us work for women’s rights, empowerment and gender equality as we strive to eliminate poverty and promote sustainable development.  Equality for women is progress for all!

The United Nations also encourages men to stand up for women’s rights — the rights of their mothers, sisters, and daughters.

Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of UN Women,  Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka said, “as you know women hold half of the sky. We call on all men also, stand up and hold up half of their part of the sky.”

Pantene Says: Be Strong, and Shine

I just like this ad. Because labels seem to play such a big role on society, and people seem to get really affected by them.

The truth is that the modern world is still somehow sexist, but of course, many try to deny that because this is the twenty-first century, after all.

I think a lot of men are still afraid of the power of women, however, many women are contented also of being in the shadow, so that’s why only the truly fearless step out into the light.

I read somewhere that in business, women prefer male bosses than female ones, because, as depicted in this ad, women are labeled as bossy, among other things.

Maybe more women have to stop being afraid of labels, and do what they do. . After all, ladies, you can’t let a man define you, especially if you have to hide your light for them to shine in theirs. This is a new world, and if you drown your fear and show the strength you have inside you, without a doubt, you will shine.

 

Love,
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