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.
Filed under WHAT THE F*CK: A congresswoman purporting to champion women’s rights, shows up at a conference about female empowerment and gender equality and proceeds to invalidate the notion of agency as a crucial weapon for women in fighting sexism and misogyny, and instead exonerates men—particularly the president—for behaving the way they do by accepting the specious argument that “boys will be boys.”
To wit: “He’s really a wonderful protector of women.”
She was referring to the same president who chose to slut-shame a female senator when she dared to challenge him on the issue of his drug policy and the ensuing carnage that has to date yielded 7,000 deaths; the same president who catcalled a female reporter during a press conference; the same president who remarked on national television that the female Agriculture Undersecretary’s legs were distracting him, could she close them?
That’s not being protective, that’s being an immature schoolboy who continues to see women whose value is linked primarily to their sexual attractiveness and not to any other merits.
To wit: “He actually watches [the Miss Davao pageant] and stands up every time someone makes bastos a girl.”
So who stands up when he makes bastos a girl, which he has routinely done as a mayor, as a presidential candidate, and now as a president? We’re supposed to dismiss it as being his brand of provincial machismo humor, further evidence of his authentic charm and lack of imperial pretentiousness. But it’s not funny; it sends out the message that it’s perfectly fine to have a laugh at a woman’s expense, the cruder the joke, the better. And it does the men and boys who are supposed to idolize him and emulate his behavior no favors.
To wit: “If you have guy barkadas—and I have a lot—in the Senate…in the back room… they’re just a bunch of boys. And I’m one of the boys. And they talk about their boy things and that’s how boys are.”
This was followed by: “What I tell people is that you have to know what’s appropriate to say when and where. And that’s why even as a girl with those boys, I can’t be so maarte naman and keep on saying, ‘Don’t say that.’ I’ll be like a manang.”
Of all the things the congresswoman said that day, these two statements are perhaps the most offensive and dangerous, more than her lame and hypocritical defense of a crass president. She is a faux feminist, who believes in accommodation and adjustment—with women making all the compromises so that men do not feel threatened by women demanding to be heard and respected, so that men do not feel under siege, their male privilege in danger of being lost because of women demanding and deserving their own seat at the same table.
By subscribing to the “boys will be boys” mentality so rampant in these parts—and indeed we talk about empowering women, yet these same women continue to raise sons who grow up to be sexist assholes—the congresswoman doesn’t see any need for men to change their behavior and see women as worthy of respect. Instead, it must be women forever putting men’s needs and “feelings” first, lest their fragile masculinity is shattered.
And this is why women fake orgasms.
She adds that to call them out on their behavior is to risk being labeled a pretentious, nagging spinster in their eyes. Because, wow, who wants to be called pretentious for daring to challenge outdated and unenlightened male attitudes? In her eyes, it’s a far worse insult for a woman to be regarded as maarte and a manang than it is for a man to be told he is a sexist, misogynistic pig who is incapable of learning to respect women. Because, you know, boys will be boys.
“Boys will be boys” means that men are forever getting a free pass on bad behavior. “Boys will be boys” means that men can’t keep their dick in their pants and therefore should not be blamed for wanting to f*ck anything that walks. “Boys will be boys” encourages rape culture and is the reason why rapists often always get away with rape while the victim is blamed for the crime, and the onus of prevention is placed on her. Brock Turner, is that you?
An anonymous feminist once said that “Men should be offended when someone claims that women should prevent rape by not wearing certain things, or not going to certain places, or not acting a certain way. That line of thinking presumes that you are incapable of control. That you are so base and uncivilized that it takes extraordinary effort for you to walk down the street without raping someone. That you require a certain dress code be maintained, that certain behaviors be employed so that maybe today, just maybe, you won’t rape someone.
“It presumes your natural state is rapist.”
So yeah, Congresswoman Pia Cayetano, really, what the f*ck?
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.
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Art by Dorothy Guya