February 26, 2017

There’s No Lack of Misogyny in this Country, Just Look at Harry Roque


This column may contain strong language, sexual content, adult humor, and other themes that may not be suitable for minors. Parental guidance is strongly advised.

This week in misogyny, a lawyer who once represented the family of a slain transgender woman made a blithe comment in a pathetic attempt at humor, suggesting that besieged Senator Leila De Lima preferred to be incarcerated at the Custodial Center of the Armed Forces of the Philippines so she could be surrounded by men.

His exact words, recorded at a press conference, were, “Bakit gusto niya sa AFP, dahil puro kalalakihan dun (Why does she want to stay at AFP, because it’s full of men)?”

I’m sure there were men—and women—who laughed along with him, just as they laughed along with Pres. Duterte when he made that rape joke, when he made that comment about the smell of the vagina of a reporter’s wife, when he catcalled a reporter, when he made inappropriate remarks about Vice-President Leni Robredo’s knees, when he slut-shamed De Lima, when he—dear Lord, we could be here all day just enumerating all the instances that illustrate the issue at hand.

Pres. Trump’s no different: “Grab them by the pussy” (cue bro laugh from Billy Bush).  “If Ivanka weren’t my daughter, perhaps I’d be dating her” (cue uncomfortable laugh from his daughter).  “You know, it really doesn’t matter what the media write as long as you’ve got a young, and beautiful, piece of ass” (cue canned laughter). “If Hillary Clinton can’t satisfy her husband, what makes her think she can satisfy America?” (cue re-tweets, chuckles and jeers from his rabid Republican base). “What can look so beautiful at 30? An aeroplane,” referring to the Boeing Dreamliner (cue suck-up laughter from Boeing executives).

It’s wearying to keep taking offense at these attacks on behalf of decency. Then again, the bar for decency is extremely low for the likes of Duterte and Trump. Even when their blatant sexism is pointed out, they refuse to acknowledge that they have offended, and in fact take gleeful delight at having offended, then become belligerent, resentful, and combative when called out.

But Harry Roque? The former human rights lawyer? Former representative of the Kabayan party-list formed to protect the rights of the marginalized?

Yes, that Harry Roque. Turns out he’s a misogynistic jerk like countless others in our country and in the world. Shoot him a question he hasn’t rehearsed for and the first answer out of his mouth, unfiltered, un-coached, and uttered in candor, is a thoughtlessly sexist one—thoroughly tasteless and uncalled for.

Of course he backtracked. Claimed it was a joke. Said he didn’t mean it. Tried to qualify his statement.

“I apologize to Senator De Lima for what I said; I was out of line. It was an ill attempt at humor that was inexcusable. I do maintain, however, that the powerful should not be allowed to choose where they will be detained. That violates the equal protection clause of the Constitution,” he tweeted.

Whatever you may feel about De Lima, making assumptions about her preferences regarding the location of her incarceration based on her alleged sexual proclivities is such a dick move. And sadly, it’s so typical of so many Filipinos, presidents, senators, congressmen, and newscasters, included.

Last October, Noli de Castro, erstwhile vice-president now back to his day job as a broadcaster, asked the freshly crowned Miss International Kylie Versoza if she had a boyfriend. Makes perfect sense, right?  Win an international beauty pageant—which, whatever you may think of beauty contests, can be empowering in the sense of giving winners a platform for their advocacies, economic aspirations, careers, or even marital prospects—and get asked about a boyfriend. Because heaven knows, a woman may conquer the universe, shatter the glass ceiling, win a ton of awards, but without a man in her life, her victory means nothing.

So when Kylie answered, “No, korona lang,” Noli, with such perspicacity, quipped, “Lungkot naman niyan.

Kylie, to her credit, shot back, “No, hindi siya malungkot (it’s not sad). No, of course not! The crown is only once in a lifetime.”

Indeed.  Kudos to her for throwing him shade.

Like Harry Roque, Noli de Castro is simply and sadly representative of the mentality of the general Philippine public:  Women are not worth sh*t unless their existence is validated by a man. All the degrees, all the honors and all the achievements in the world amount to jack sans a man to make a woman, and all that she has accomplished, feel complete and meaningful.

And woe betide the woman who displays any kind of independence of thought, lifestyle, or politics because it makes her fair game for salacious speculation about her sex life. The consequence of ignoring the accepted trajectory of dating for the sake of marriage and children, as De Lima has done. It makes her immediately suspect, a woman controlled by her baser instincts, on the prowl for sex, choosing to go to a prison facility within an army compound because of all the testosterone swarming there.

Because even incarceration has no value without a man to validate it.


B. Wiser is the author of Making Love in Spanish, a novel published earlier this year by Anvil Publishing and available in National Book Store and Powerbooks, as well as online. When not assuming her Sasha Fierce alter-ego, she takes on the role of serious journalist and media consultant. 

For comments and questions, e-mail b.wiser.ph@gmail.com.

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are solely those of the author in her private capacity and do not in any way represent the views of Preen.ph, or any other entity of the Inquirer Group of Companies.


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Filed Under:

B. Wiser, culture, Donald Trump, Harry Roque, misogyny, Noli De Castro, Preen, Preen.ph, Rodrigo Duterte, Sex and Sensibility

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