Archive | Gender Rights

Why Victim Blaming in Rape is Always Ignorant and Irresponsible

TRIGGER WARNING: This article or section, or pages it links to, contain information about sexual assault and/or violence which may be triggering to survivors.

Victim Blaming 101

Let’s say a person left his iPhone unattended in a public place and it was stolen. Can we say that he contributed to his fate by being negligent? Yes. Is this victim blaming? Yes. Can the same logic be applied to rape? No.

But some people would say, “Yes.” Some people think that women get raped because they wear “slutty” clothes. Some people think that women get raped because they drink alcohol. Some people think that women get raped because they stay out late at night. Some people think that women get raped because they don’t pray. Some people are ignorant, yes.

I feel extremely frustrated right now to have to explain the distinction between a man who leaves his phone unattended and a woman who was raped.

Here’s the deal. In the case of the iPhone, to prevent the same occurrence from happening again, all the man has to do is to put his iPhone in his pocket. Needless to say, putting his phone in his pocket, instead of leaving it in a public place, would reduce the risk of theft greatly.

The problem with victim blaming in rape is that the common precautionary measures advised – don’t get drunk, don’t wear slutty clothes, don’t talk to strangers – do not reduce the likelihood of rape. Sober girls are just as likely to be raped as drunk girls. Girls who don’t talk to strangers are just as likely to be raped as girls who talk only to acquaintances. Girls who wear completely normal clothing are just as likely to be raped as girls who wear what some people consider “slutty” clothing.

 

“Take the Necessary Precautions”

In a conversation, I was asked this question:

“Let’s say a woman spends an average of 8 hours a day at home. Are the chances of her being raped at least once in her lifetime the same as if she spends an average of 8 hours a day in that dangerous part of town known for its alarming number of sexual assaults?”

It’s easy to make the assumption that avoiding a dangerous area could reduce the odds that a person was sexually assaulted. But we have to recognize the implications of such a statement. To suggest that avoiding a dangerous area could prevent rape is to imply that if a woman chose to spend time in an area where she could be raped by a random stranger, she didn’t do a good enough job of avoiding rape and may have been partially responsible for what happened.

The problem with this assumption is that it’s wrong. It’s also offensive. For one, a woman is more likely to be raped in a familiar venue, by a familiar person, than she is to be raped by a stranger in an area with a “dangerous” reputation. In the case of rape, the places that she “could be” raped in are exactly the places that she “should be” safe in: her own home, the home of an acquaintance, or an indoor venue near her home.

According to the U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Statistics, “More than 50% of all rape/sexual assault incidents were reported by victims to have occurred within 1 mile of their home or at their home.”

What advice should we give women then to “avoid rape” then? Avoid your home and areas within 1 mile of your home because majority of rapes happen in these places?

Furthermore, a “Full Report of the Prevalence, Incidence, and Consequences of Violence Against Women” says:

“64% of women who reported being raped, physically assaulted, and/or stalked were victimized by a current or former husband, cohabiting partner, boyfriend, or date.”

So, to “avoid rape,” should we advice women to avoid their husband, their live-in partner, their boyfriend, and their date?

To pursue the analogy further, rape survivors did not “leave their iPhones unattended.” They were keeping them in their pockets and they got mugged while sober, in normal clothes, by familiar people, in familiar places that may include their own home.

In other words, there is very little a victim could have done if someone has decided to rape them. The “preventive measures” people usually bring up (stay sober, don’t wear slutty clothes) aren’t really factors at all when we consider the evidence.

To simplify, leaving your iPhone lying around will increase the odds that it will be stolen. Putting your iPhone in your pocket, will reduce the odds that it will be stolen. So, if you choose to leave your phone out in the open, when you could have placed it in your pocket, means that it is your fault if it was stolen.

However, dressing slutty or talking to strangers will not increase the odds that you are raped. Dressing modestly and talking only to acquaintances will not reduce the odds that you are raped either. If a person is raped, it is not his or her fault.

It’s a completely different issue altogether.

 

“Don’t Get Drunk”

This statement is also commonly provided as a precautionary measure to “prevent rape.” It’s also wrong. If drunkenness was a direct contributor to the prevalence of rape, then a statistical increase in alcohol consumption should lead to a statistical increase in the prevalence of rape.

However, in the article “To Prevent Rape on College Campuses, Focus on the Rapists, Not the Victims,” Amanda Hess reveals that:

“According to the Department of Justice’s National Crime Victimization Survey—which surveys Americans ages 12 and older about crime they’ve experienced, whether or not they reported it to the authorities—rape has declined markedly in the United States since 1979, even as female binge drinking has risen.”

In the article, “Actually, The Link Between Sexual Assault And Alcohol Isn’t As Clear As You Think,” Tara Culp-Ressler explains that:

“Even though alcohol is associated with sexual assault, it’s not actually a direct association. Getting intoxicated only leads to rape when there’s someone present to commit that rape. When you remove rapists from the equation, the risks of getting drunk — which, of course, do involve serious public health consequences — don’t include getting raped.”

 

“Sexual Violence is Predatory”

According to the study “Understanding the Predatory Nature of Sexual Violence” by David Lisak, perpetrators of sexual violence:

are extremely adept at identifying “likely” victims, and testing prospective victims’ boundaries;

plan and premeditate their attacks, using sophisticated strategies to groom their victims for attack, and to isolate them physically;

use “instrumental” not gratuitous violence; they exhibit strong impulse control and use only as much violence as is needed

to terrify and coerce their victims into submission;

use psychological weapons — power, control, manipulation, and threats — backed up by physical force, and almost never

resort to weapons such as knives or guns;

use alcohol deliberately to render victims more vulnerable to attack, or completely unconscious.

In Culp-Ressler’s article, she admits that alcohol may be one of the tools a rapist uses. However, she says that it’s just one of many tools at a rapists disposal, and the unavailability of alcohol won’t necessarily prevent a rapist from raping if the rapist decides to rape.

In other words, alcohol is just one of the things a rapist may use AFTER they have selected a victim. It’s very likely that a rapist who has raped an intoxicated girl already decided to rape her, before she even took a sip of alcohol. If alcohol is not available at that moment, he would simply chosen another tactic to rape her.

The common myth surrounding rape is that a drunk woman, in a dark street, wearing “slutty clothing,” is more likely to be raped, than a sober woman, in her home, wearing normal clothing, having lunch with an acquaintance. This leads people to think that if the drunk woman was raped, she may have contributed to it by being “negligent.” That’s not true. The odds that either would be raped is zero, if there was no rapist nearby to rape them. These odds increase drastically if there was a nearby rapist who wanted to rape them. What a woman is wearing or what she was doing before she was attacked is irrelevant. She would have been attacked anyway if a sexual predator has decided to attack her.

 

Why Do We Blame the Victim?

Two years ago, there was a thread on Reddit asking sexual assault perpetrators what their motives were, “Reddit’s had a few threads about sexual assault victims, but are there any redditors from the other side of the story? What were your motivations? Do you regret it?” It has since been deleted, but not before parts of it were featured in several articles.

The article “If You’ve Ever Wondered What It’s Like To Be A Rapist, Have We Got A Reddit Thread For You!” features a very chilling, first-hand confession copied from Reddit’s rapist thread.

Here’s the entire confession:

I am a post-colleged age male who raped several girls through use of coercion, alcohol, and other tactics over a course of 3 years.

First off, I must say, I was at a dark and horrible place in my life, that I’ve since grown from. I’m ashamed of the person I was, if the people who I’m close to now knew who I was, I would be ruined. I’m known for being a great guy, friendly and easy to get along with, a community/political activist, a fervent volunteer in the community, and a person who rises through the ranks quickly due to successes at work. That was my mask, and I was good at it, so good that maybe I convinced myself along the line that was who I could really be, and that may of helped me change, and stop doing what I did.

I’m somewhat remorseful for what I did to those girls, but I don’t think I could ever face them to apologize. I knew what I was doing was wrong, but I had this certain insatiable thirst that brought me to do what I did. I didn’t know how to stop, and just when I thought maybe I could, I’d find myself back in my pattern, back on the hunt.

I’m a good looking guy, and I can get girls pretty easily. I’m currently married to a beautiful woman that I met during this time of my life (not someone I raped, but someone who knew my mask during this time). So, anyways, after a while it became boring to go after the sluts and sorority girls that would easily throw their cunt after you. I wanted the thrill of the chase, and that’s what led me to forcing myself on girls. I would find attractive girls that were self-conscious about their looks. Girls who were pretty in their own unique way, but not the outgoing sort, mostly introverts, and girls that didn’t party or do wild things. Hopefully a girl who was a bit damaged, had a shitty ex-boyfriend, or family issues, came from a small shut in town, that sort of thing. So, when I showed interest in them they’d be completely enamored, they’d almost be shocked that a popular, good-looking, and well liked guy would be talking to them. I’d have that initial meeting at the library, a coffee shop, a work function, or a party where I had them convinced of what a great guy I was. I listened to them, and made them feel special, like they were a princess. Sometimes we might sort of hook-up that night (kissing, making-out, never anything more). The next day I’d call, and see when they wanted to get together again. I’d feign some excuse for not going out somewhere, but having them come over late in the night. It was college, and not a lot of people had transportation off campus, so it was typical for people to come over and watch a movie or something on a date.

They would come over, and I’d always make sure it was real cold in the room, cold enough so that when we started watching the movie I’d say something about being chilly, and grab a big fleece blanket for the both of us. We’d get kind of close, and then maybe ignore the movie for some kissing. After a while, we’d talk some more, and I’d start edging my hands around the under strap of the bra, or maybe a bit into her pants, just kind of playing on the edge to gauge her response. Some girls would stiffen up a little, and that’s when you knew they didn’t like what was going on. We were in my studio apartment, so the bed served as the couch, and it was easy to start sliding down throughout the movie so we’d be laying down. It was then that I could turn around and get on top of her. The girls usually didn’t know how to respond. Some of them were into it, and those nights were usually consensual and boring sex, sometimes followed up by a few more nightly visits before getting the boot. However, the great nights were the ones who squirmed, ones who didn’t want to give in. I’d have to shush them down, and try to work on them slowly enough so they didn’t know what was going on until it was pretty much already happening. I’m a muscular guy, over 6′ around 200 lbs. and most of these girls may have been 125-130, really tiny and easy to pin down. To be honest, even remembering it now, the squirming always made it better, they didn’t want it to happen, but they couldn’t do anything about it. Most girls don’t say no either. They think you’re a good guy, and should pick up on the hints, they don’t want to have to say “no” and admit to themselves what’s happening.

Alcohol helped. Having a few drinks during the movie, or doing a few jello shots that were “prepared for a party that weekend” would usually do the trick.

The aftermath was always different. Some girls left after about 15 minutes after. Some girls would stay until the morning and then leave. A few tried to call back, maybe blaming themselves for what happened or something. I never worried too much about being caught. Everyone knew me, and I worked with the police a lot, with administrators, and campus officials. I was on first name basis with the Chancellor and the President of Student Affairs, so if anything came down to a he/she-said I figured I’d be in the clear. Having her come over to my place also made it seem less predatory, as she came into my domain, and “could leave at any time”.

I guess that’s about it…seeing as just about everything has been said I’m gonna call it a day. I hope this view into a dark part of my history offers some insight into the mind of a serial rapist.

As the confession reveals, the rapist is not the stranger hiding in a bush, ready to attack you as you walk by at night, in a “dangerous area.” He could be popular. He could seem friendly. He could be attractive. He could be a date, an acquaintance, or even a close friend. This fact shatters our sense of security. We don’t want to believe that any one of us could be a victim of rape. That is why we victim blame.

In the article, “Why Do We Blame Victims?” Juliana Breines explains that:

“Victim blaming is not just about avoiding culpability—it’s also about avoiding vulnerability. The more innocent a victim, the more threatening they are. Victims threaten our sense that the world is a safe and moral place, where good things happen to good people and bad things happen to bad people. When bad things happen to good people, it implies that no one is safe, that no matter how good we are, we too could be vulnerable. The idea that misfortune can be random, striking anyone at any time, is a terrifying thought, and yet we are faced every day with evidence that it may be true.”

The very idea that sexual assault can happen anytime, to anyone, violates our personal sense of control, so we refuse to accept that reality. We want to tell ourselves that, “I will not be raped, as long as I don’t get drunk.” We want to tell ourselves that, “My daughter will not be raped, as long as I make sure she doesn’t wear tube tops.”

When an anonymous girl gets raped, we tell ourselves, “Surely, she must have done something my mother, my sister, and my daughter is not doing.” We tell ourselves these things because it’s too disturbing for us to accept the reality that our sisters, daughters, and mothers can be raped anytime, anywhere, by people that they know, and in places that we thought they were safe in.

We blame the victim because we are afraid; for ourselves and for our loved ones. But instead of victim blaming, we should look for more productive ways to respond to this threat. We should be disturbed enough to do something about rape. We should be afraid enough to educate ourselves and our loved ones. At the very least, we should be human enough to empathize with the rape survivor; a person unfortunate enough to have had to endure the assault of a skilled criminal.

Survivors deserve our support, not our scrutiny.

 

References:

Breines, J. “Why Do We Blame Victims?” Retrieved on September 26, 2014. From: http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/in-love-and-war/201311/why-do-we-blame-victims

Culp-Ressler, T. (2013, October). “Actually, The Link Between Sexual Assault And Alcohol Isn’t As Clear As You Think.” Retrieved on September 26, 2014. From: http://thinkprogress.org/health/2013/10/29/2844951/link-alcohol-sexual-assault/

Hess, A. (2013, October). “To Prevent Rape on College Campuses, Focus on the Rapists, Not the Victims.” Retrieved on September 26, 2014. From: http://www.slate.com/blogs/xx_factor/2013/10/16/it_s_the_rapists_not_the_drinking_to_prevent_sexual_assault_on_college_campuses.html

Lisak, D. “Understanding the Predatory Nature of Sexual Violence.” Retrieved on September 26, 2014. From: http://www.middlebury.edu/media/view/240951/original/

National Violence Against Women Survey. “Full Report of the Prevalence, Incidence, and Consequences of Violence Against Women.” Retrieved on September 26, 2014. From: https://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles1/nij/183781.pdf

Rape Abuse and Incest National Network. Retrieved on September 26, 2014. From: https://www.rainn.org/get-information/statistics/sexual-assault-offenders

The Cajun Boy. “If You’ve Ever Wondered What It’s Like To Be A Rapist, Have We Got A Reddit Thread For You!” Retrieved on September 26, 2014. From: http://uproxx.com/webculture/2012/07/rapists-explain-why-they-rape-on-reddit/

 

Image Source:

http://www.ourstoriesuntold.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/victimblaming101.jpg

Posted in Education, Gender Rights, Politics, Science, Society1 Comment

My Body is Not Mine

We are in bed, spooning like lovers although we’re not. He is resting his cheek on my shoulder, creating some contrast with the statement he is about to make. Could you not wear clothes with plunging necklines?

My Body is Not Mine
 

I could have picked a fight but I didn’t. I said okay, thinking that would end a topic I didn’t really want to get into. I have been told that I am highly opinionated and as a woman, this often leads to feeling like my decision to care for cats is a savvy one. Domesticated felines are the only male companions that will never feel threatened by the thought that I might be, sometimes not always, smarter than they are.

But this man holding me felt compelled to explain his demands. just don’t want to get into a fight. That can be categorized as sweet. But then again, I can’t really blame guys for looking if you’re wearing [slutty clothes].

He didn’t use the term, but I’ll make the leap and assume that this is what he means. This is not new, and this is not exclusive to men. My mother can never decide whether to feel horrified when I am wearing a sleeveless shirt that reveals too much of my bra or tsk-tsk at me for wearing long skirts and frumpy tops that make me look about twenty years older than her.

It’s funny that this man felt like he was doing me a favor by essentially commanding me to dress “more appropriately” when I have had to fight every urge to snicker whenever I see him. Half of his wardrobe is composed of collared formal wear with a pattern that’s much more suited to curtains of cabins in the woods. Or picnic blankets. When I finally told him that I think that he wears clothes that, to me, look hideous, I could tell that he was somewhat insulted. He chose not to be a dick about it (points for him), took it in stride, and said that maybe I ought to take him shopping. But, he said, someone else should come along. You might pick clothes that will only make me attractive to you [and not anyone else]. That’s a joke. And, as women aren’t meant to be taken seriously, so am I.

Our relations didn’t get very far. Two months. It reached its end shortly after a fictitious zombie apocalypse in Tagaytay, conjured in jest on a trip with his friends. He wanted to be valiant and save me from the undead. I wanted to fight zombies. He wanted to impress his friends by saying he doesn’t need to call anyone because I was with him. I said I would call a friend of mine, which I didn’t realize made him look bad in front of his friends. He frequently reminded me that he wasn’t ready to be in a relationship and though I liked him, I kept my distance and tried not to do anything that would make me seem, que horror, clingy. He wanted to keep his options open. So did I.

There are times when I feel something close to sad that our interest in each other became just another hump on the road, but this thought saves me: do I really want to be with someone who thinks that I am asking for it (it = perverted thoughts concerning my body) because I choose to wear a top that makes this climate change more bearable? I mean, it’s really hot. Is it unreasonable to want to wear a bare minimum amount of fabric in public? It’s not like I have enormous tits. I fell asleep in commute the other day and the driver called me “brad.”

And, to rephrase a question that’s been asked a million times before and probably a million more times in the future, how is it fine that he can casually tell me that he doesn’t want me to dress him because he wants to remain attractive to other women, whereas I would diminish my chances of getting a regular partner in life if I said that I want to dress a certain way to retain some appeal? I might as well go back to the Middle East and keep wearing a shapeless black robe. My body, in any other fashion, must be seen only by my lover—otherwise known as my rightful owner.

I do not intend to rally on paper and do my “slut walk” with words. I don’t contest the idea that women should be able to wear what they want, but I already do that. It’s a debate that’s settled in my head. A man attempted to rape me when I was wearing a normal shirt and yes, a short skirt, but I was wearing thick tights. Not even that experience stopped me from wearing the “sluttiest” things in my wardrobe. Besides, have you seen what my sex was wearing during the Victorian era? Do you honestly think no woman was raped during that time because they were wearing a skirt that reached past the feet (not just knees) and sleeves that tapered off at the wrist?

What bothers me is not that I am told what to wear, but that they (think) they have the right to tell me what to wear. Is my body not mine?

People debate about whether or not I have the right to prevent a human being from forming inside of me. What happens in my uterus is a social concern. I need a legislation that will entitle me to abort a pregnancy, even if the sperm came from an inebriated man I have never met in my life who felt like it’s perfectly fine to stick his dick inside me without my consent. The vagina is public property. It’s sold. It’s bought. It’s a thing that can be possessed.

No amount of fabric can cover that idea—that belief.

It is romantic, in a way, to be owned. It’s marketed as belonging, a thought that even I find appealing. I do want to belong to someone. I’d wear an abaya until the day I die if the man I love wants me all to himself. But only if I too can possess him and make him feel shame should I find out that he has been giving what is mine to another woman (or man).

My body for his body, in the interest of fairness.

 

Posted in Freedom of Expression, Gender Rights, Personal, Philosophy, Society2 Comments

FF Podcast (Audio) 38: Filming an Abortion

FF Podcast (Audio) 38: Filming an Abortion

Filipino Freethinkers Podcast (Audio) 38 - Filming an Abortion

This week, we talk about Emily Letts, an abortion counselor who filmed her own abortion and posted it online.

You may also download the podcast file here.

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Filipino Freethinkers Podcast (Audio) on iTunes

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FF Podcast (Audio) 37: Would You Marry a Computer?

FF Podcast (Audio) 37: Would You Marry a Computer?

Filipino Freethinkers Podcast (Audio) 37 - Would You Marry A Computer?

This week, we talk about a man who is protesting against marriage equality by trying to marry his porn-infested computer.

You may also download the podcast file here.

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Filipino Freethinkers Podcast (Audio) feed

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Filipino Freethinkers Podcast (Audio) on iTunes

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A Conversation with James Randi

A Conversation with James Randi

Conversations for a Cause returns with an interview with The Amazing Randi. We ask him about The Million Dollar Paranormal Challenge and his experiences in testing fantastic claims by people who call themselves psychic.

You may also download the video file here.

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Filipino Freethinkers podcast on iTunes

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FF Podcast (Audio): Rebecca Watson (Conversations for a Cause)

FF Podcast (Audio): Rebecca Watson (Conversations for a Cause)

Rebecca Watson of Skepchick

This week, we talk with Rebecca Watson of Skepchick, about using skepticism to address sexism and social justice issues. We also talk about her show with The Skeptics’ Guide to the Universe as well as some of her book picks.

You may also download the podcast file here.




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Filipino Freethinkers Podcast (Audio) on iTunes

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A Conversation with Rebecca Watson of Skepchick

A Conversation with Rebecca Watson of Skepchick

This week, we talk with Rebecca Watson of Skepchick, about using skepticism to address sexism and social justice issues. We also talk about her show with The Skeptics’ Guide to the Universe as well as some of her book picks.

You may also download the episode file here.

Filipino Freethinkers Podcast feed

Filipino Freethinkers Podcast feed

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Filipino Freethinkers podcast on iTunes

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CBCP vs US Embassy

usembassy

There is something raising the moral highbrow of Fr. Melvin Castro, executive director of CBCP’s Family and Life Commission.

The United States now issues same-sex fiancé visas.  This is the consequence of the landmark 2013 US Supreme Court ruling rendering unconstitutional the section in the Defense of Marriage of Act defining marriage as a union between one man and one woman.  There is nothing new with same-sex fiancé visas being issued by foreign embassies in the Philippines. Prior to the US, a number of countries have already been doing so: Australia, Belgium, Brazil ,Canada, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Iceland, Israel, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom, and even the Pope’s homeland – Argentina.

On December 6, the US Embassy Manila issued its first same-sex fiancé visa. Days later, in an interview by GMA 7 News-To-Go, Fr. Castro said that, “Dapat igalang nila ang batas ng ibang bansa. Tulad sa Pilipinas, hindi naman legal ang same-sex union so dapat irespeto nila ‘yun. (The United States should respect the law of other countries.  Here in the Philippines, same-sex union is not legal. They should respect it).” This is all form and no substance.

First of all, being in a same-sex relationship is not illegal in the Philippines. Surprisingly, despite being a predominantly Catholic country, we never had an anti-sodomy law, the law usually used to prosecute homosexuals. There was, however, a proposal to criminalize same-sex relationships. It was introduced in 2009 by the former Manila Representative Bienvenido Abante, who was also serving as the Vice Chair of the Committee on Human Rights. The bill sought to criminalize different acts: failing to declare one’s “true” sex or gender when applying for a marriage license; issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples; solemnizing same-sex marriages; and cohabiting with someone of the same-sex as if you are  a married couple. The proposed penalties for them include imprisonment of at least six years and fine of at least 50,000 pesos. Luckily, Philippine Congress had better things to do.  There was really no need to introduce this bill because same-sex marriages, even those conducted in a foreign country, are not yet legally recognized in the Philippines.

Second, by simply granting same-sex fiancé visas, the US is not violating any law in the Philippines. The Philippines has no authority over the visa policies of other states.

Third, issuing this visa is not a sign of disrespect to the marriage law of the Philippines. The visa does not change the marriage law of the Philippines; it remains the same. However, the way the Philippines legally define marriage cannot be forced to other sovereign states, just as much as these states cannot impose theirs on us. Their definition may influence us to redefine marriage by legislating a new law but other states (nor the CBCP!) cannot do the legislating for us.

Fourth, the US is not compelling the Philippines to legally recognize same-sex partnerships. Nor the US visa policy compels the Philippines to adopt the same visa policy. The Philippines is a democracy. Its laws, including marriage laws, have to go through its own lengthy legislative procedure in order to become law. We may copy laws of other countries, but we cannot have them as law if Congress has not passed them as our own.

And fifth, a visa is not a marriage contract. Even if a same-sex couple marries in the US or any other countries where such partnership is legally recognized, the Philippines has no obligation to legally recognize them in its own jurisdiction, unless it passes a law.

CBCP should constantly remind itself that their prescriptions of how people should live their lives are not automatically the laws of the Philippines nor of other countries, which after all still relies on democratic and not on Catholic theocratic procedures to enact laws.

Posted in Advocacy, Gender Rights2 Comments

FF Podcast 26: Feminism

FF Podcast 26: Feminism

This week, we talk about feminism with special guests Profs. Guy Claudio, director of the UP Center for Women’s Studies and Leloy Claudio, Ateneo de Manila assistant professor. We joined them to celebrate the UP CWS 25th anniversary.

You may also download the podcast file here.

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Join the Freethinkers at this Saturday’s Pride March!

It’s the most colorful time of the year again, and the Filipino Freethinkers will definitely be there! Join the FF contingent at the LGBT Pride March, held this year in Malate, Manila. FF will be marching for those who live in countries that openly oppress its LGBT communities.

Just look for the Filipino Freethinkers’ contingent in Remedios Circle, or contact 09273233532. You can’t miss our huge-ass tarp and placards! Forward, march!

Registration & Assembly: 1:00pm to 2:30pm (Remedios Circle)
Parade: 3:00pm to 5:00pm
Program: 5:30pm to 7:00pm (Orosa – Nakpil, Malate)

Please register via this link: http://tinyurl.com/StrengthInColors

If you can, bring donations for the Yolanda relief operations, which may be in cash or in kind. Hygiene kits, in particular, are highly needed. Donations will be received during the event by Amnesty International representatives.

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Posted in Gender Rights1 Comment

I Chose to Be Gay

I Chose to Be Gay

Yes, I chose to be gay. Now before you accuse me of ignorance or political incorrectness, and lecture me on how dangerous and irresponsible this statement is, please hear what I have to say. Consider this my second “coming out.”

An overwhelming majority of the literature I’ve come across with claim that I did not choose this life. Why would I, if all it brings is suffering? Lady Gaga has honored my tribe by singing to the world that I was “born this way.” But the people on the other side of the table claim that it is a political strategy. This is the minority who claim that no one is born gay, that being gay is an option.

I have read enough material, and have debated with enough people to say that both camps have valid and invalid arguments. However, I don’t like the idea of other people speaking on my behalf. So, like any freethinking individual driven by critical analysis and introspection, I had to evaluate my own personal experience in order to answer the question: “Was I born this way or did I choose to be gay?”

Obviously, it was not an easy question to answer as it required that I knew exactly what made me “gay.” Is it the fact that I am attracted to men? Is it that I act upon this attraction and have sex with men? If I am only attracted to men but do not act upon the attraction, does it make me “less gay?” The exercise raised more questions than answers. But the more questions I had to confront, the more I was convinced. I chose to be gay.

It was one summer night when I made the choice. I had just gone on a date as a “confused” teenager with another guy. I was 18. Lying in bed, staring at the ceiling, I thought of the possible consequences of my actions. I thought about what it would take for me to choose that path. I thought of what to say to my family. And after sorting out my thoughts and my feelings, I was no longer confused. At that precise moment in my life, I had made a choice. I thought to myself, “Yes, I am gay. And yes, I’m gonna do this!” He eventually became my first boyfriend. It was a result of my choice.

I could have chosen a different path. I could have chosen to dump him and raise a heteronormative family. He would have become part of a “phase” that I “experimented” with. Perhaps the world might have never known about that lovely skeleton in my closet. I would, most likely, still be attracted to men, because that is one part of me that I didn’t choose. But other than that, I could be showing all signs of being straight, in all its manly glory. Would my “straightness” then be questioned because of my remaining attraction to men? This raises the question, “What makes you straight?” Attraction alone is definitely not what makes me gay. The totality of my being gay today is a result of innate traits and conscious choices I made along the way.

This could easily turn into a debate over definitions. And this debate will surely continue even after both camps reach a conclusion. I doubt that bigots will cease to be bigots if we find conclusive proof that Lady Gaga is right. Sure, some of us did not choose this. But so what if some of us did? If I choose to love another man and not a woman, what logical, rational, scientific explanation do you have to say that it is the wrong choice for me?

Again, this is my personal experience. It may not apply to other gay people out there. But for people like me, the discussion will no longer be about whether it was a choice or not. It will be about why the choice should not even be a topic of discussion.

Yes, I chose to be gay. And that should be okay!

This article first appeared here

Posted in Advocacy, Gender Rights, Politics9 Comments

FF Podcast 019: Same-Sex Couple Property Rights and Teaching Superstitions

FF Podcast 019: Same-Sex Couple Property Rights and Teaching Superstitions

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This week, we talk about Congressman Grex Lagman’s proposed bill that would recognize the property rights of same-sex couples. Then, we talk about superstitions and the consequences of teaching them to children.

You may also download the podcast file here.

Filipino Freethinkers Podcast feed

Filipino Freethinkers Podcast feed

Filipino Freethinkers podcast on iTunes

Filipino Freethinkers podcast on iTunes

Posted in Advocacy, Gender Rights, Media, Podcast, Religion, Society, Video2 Comments

Same-Sex Couples’ Property Rights Bill: A Step Towards Equal Rights

Same-Sex Couples’ Property Rights Bill: A Step Towards Equal Rights

Albay representative Edcel Lagman Jr. recently filed a bill providing for property rights to cohabiting same-sex couples, allowing them the option to co-own the properties they acquire while living together. Lagman said that the bill “would protect the couple’s partnerships and property not only from third persons but even from each other, similar to the protection given to heterosexual couples.”

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Image from Wikimedia Commons

Even if the majority of Filipinos object to same-sex unions and to homosexuality itself, this bill ought to be passed because it has nothing to do with the legality or even the morality of such partnerships. Rather, its concern is solely on the property regime that would govern same-sex cohabitation.

As an analogy, our laws do not condone adulterous relationships, and yet the Family Code fixes a special kind co-ownership between adulterous partners. Article 148 provides that a man and a woman living together as husband and wife, without benefit of marriage – but are not capacitated to marry because they are in an adulterous relationship, in a bigamous or polygamous marriage, in an incestuous void marriage under Article 37, in a void marriage by reason of public policy under Article 38, or one or both parties is under 18 years of age – co-own properties in proportion to their respective contributions of money, property, or industry.  They are given the presumption that their contributions and corresponding shares are equal as long as they can show proof of some actual contribution. However, if there is proof that the contributions are not equal, the presumption of equal sharing is defeated.

Since cohabiting same-sex partners are also living together as married couples but without benefit of marriage and are not capacitated to marry because they are not “a man and a woman” as required by the Family Code, if Congress will just amend Article 148 to include same-sex cohabitation in its application, this would be a huge step in gradually according equal rights to the our fellow citizens, because to deny such right to a person on the basis of his/her sexual orientation is to subscribe to a medieval mindset of ignorance, homophobia, bigotry, and barbarism, treating the person as something less than human.

Or perhaps Lagman’s bill has even something better to offer. But regardless of which law or amendment gets passed, what’s important is that we provide to same-sex couples at least some of the property rights already enjoyed (and taken for granted) by heterosexual couples. This may still not be enough as the LGBT community surely deserves nothing less than marriage equality, but such legislative milestone would mark the path towards progress of a modern society.

Posted in Advocacy, Gender Rights0 Comments

FF Podcast 013: Is Gender Equality Against Freedom of Religion? Plus—Soylent!

FF Podcast 013: Is Gender Equality Against Freedom of Religion? Plus—Soylent!

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This week, we talk about the claim by Couples for Christ that gender equality in the RH Law goes against their religious freedom. Then, we discuss Soylent, the food replacement drink.

You may also download the episode file here.

Filipino Freethinkers Podcast feed

Filipino Freethinkers Podcast feed

Filipino Freethinkers podcast on iTunes

Filipino Freethinkers podcast on iTunes

Posted in Gender Rights, Podcast, Politics, RH Bill, Society0 Comments

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