Pres. Rodrigo Duterte, along with other government execs, ended Women’s Month yesterday with “Digong’s Day for Women.” The event was meant to honor women, and offer them educational and medical support. It’s a noble cause, but the comments weren’t on-theme.
Assistant Communications Secretary Marie Banaag was asked whether Duterte’s sexist remarks and jokes about extramarital acts help women empowerment. She replied, “I don’t want to be defensive about all these, but for women’s month, if we can have a forgiving heart. We voted for a President, we did not vote for a priest, we did not vote for a saint.”
WATCH: PCOO Asec. Banaag on Pres. Duterte's sexist remarks: let's have a forgiving heart. We did not vote for a priest pic.twitter.com/xsqjKH5Dec
— leila salaverria (@LeilasINQ) March 31, 2017
She also addressed the issue of Duterte’s catcalling, saying that the act is generally “relative” and “depends on who will be hurt.”
Likewise, Interior Undersecretary Emily Padilla said that Duterte can joke about adultery because he’s not married. Justice Undersecretary Aimee Neri added that the president’s words are merely “misinterpreted utterances.”
Can you believe that all this was said in a women empowerment event?
It’s saddening to see women excusing this kind of attitude. This is no different to when Cong. Pia Cayetano defended Duterte with her faux feminism. Instead of helping to fix the problem, they continue to enable men to catcall and commit adultery. Don’t these women realize how much this affects the female population?
Recent stats show that the most common form of sexual harassment in the Philippines are wolf whistling and catcalling. In fact, this happens to females aged 12 to 55 years old. Meanwhile, 34 percent of women experience the worst kind of harassment, which include flashing and groping.
Adultery, on the other hand, is one of the top reasons why relationships and marriages end. So why normalize it through jokes? Or have you forgotten that Duterte also made a gross rape joke before?
When I read about these comments yesterday, I questioned why there are still women who support and defend misogynists rather than calling them out. There’s also a pattern among these female Duterte supporters: they always emphasize that he’s done so much for women in the past.
It’s one thing to have good intentions for women’s rights and gender equality. Duterte has promised several times that he will champion these. However, it’s another when you tell human rights groups to “Go to hell” for calling out your rape joke. When you openly boast about spanking female cops, and staring at Vice-President Leni Robredo’s knees during Cabinet meetings. He also seems unapologetic about all of it.
Good intentions are null if actions and words say otherwise. This further proves that there’s a constant fight against misogyny. But with comments like these which, sadly, came from women, we take steps back instead of moving forward.
It’s time we stop making excuses for misogynists like Duterte and do something about eradicating this mentality.
Photo courtesy Inquirer.net