Archive | Gender Rights

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

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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Posted in Audio, audio podcast, Gender Rights, Media, Religion, Secularism0 Comments

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

Filipino Freethinkers podcast on iTunes

Filipino Freethinkers podcast on iTunes

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CBCP vs US Embassy

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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.

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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.

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

FF Podcast 011: Pinoy Racism and LGBT Rights

FF Podcast 011: Pinoy Racism and LGBT Rights

Margie, Red and Pepe host Filipino Freethinkers Podcast Episode 11
Margie, Red, and Pepe are back for episode 11 of the Filipino Freethinkers Podcast. This week, we talk about racism in Filipino culture. Then we take a closer look at the claim that LGBT rights “trample” on the rights of religious people.

You may also download the podcast file here.

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Filipino Freethinkers Podcast feed

Filipino Freethinkers podcast on iTunes

Filipino Freethinkers podcast on iTunes

 

Posted in Gender Rights, Podcast, Politics, Secularism, Society, Video0 Comments

YES to Safe Spaces for the LGBT

1012301_528014567258922_978587850_nAs LGBT allies, we, the Filipino Freethinkers, strive to maintain an environment where no one will be discriminated for their gender or sexuality — a #safespace — in our meetups and other events, as well as online.

We acknowledge the equal rights of all human beings, regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity and expression (SOGIE). As such, our community welcomes and promotes the acceptance of lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transgenders, and persons of other non-heteronormative gender or sexual identities.

We denounce prejudice, intolerance, hate, and violence against these people, and condemn the use of religion to justify the denial of their rights. We stand against homophobia, biphobia, and transphobia — attitudes based on ignorance, perpetuated by bigotry.

We shall continue our advocacy to raise awareness and understanding of gender and sexuality by facilitating and engaging in meaningful discussions using reason and science.

We also support the legislation and implementation of a nationwide anti-discrimination law and similar local government ordinances, as well as policies in schools, workplaces, commercial establishments, and other places.

We are one with LGBT rights activists and advocates in making our country a place where everyone is equal and free to live and be happy.

Let’s create a SAFE Philippines.

 

Check out the events lined up for UP Pride Week here.

Posted in Advocacy, Gender Rights0 Comments

Secularism: An Advocacy Against Theocracy

The advocacy for secularism is an advocacy for rights. More specifically, it is the advocacy for certain privileges and claims that are being denied due to the lack of separation of Church and State in our country.

The Hoefeldian system classifies rights into privileges, claims, powers, and immunities. The dynamics of these four elements can be appreciated by observing how a religious country like the Philippines attempts to change its laws as it slowly breaks away from the authority of the Church.

Privileges and claims are called first-order rights: entitlements to perform/not perform certain actions, or that others perform/not perform certain actions. To have a privilege to do something means to have no duty not to do it, while to have a claim on something means that some other person or entity has a duty to satisfy that claim.

Powers and immunities, on the other hand, are second-order rights that have a bearing on first-order rights. To have power means to have the ability to alter one’s own or another’s privileges or claims, and to have  immunity means that another person or entity lacks the ability to alter one’s privileges or claims.

To illustrate, take for example the right to drink alcohol. It is a privilege-right in the sense that people aged 18 and above have no duty not to drink, but it is not a claim-right because the government has no duty to provide alcohol, let alone for free. The government, however, has the power-right to suspend the right to drink (and the right to buy and sell liquor) as what the Commission on Elections (Comelec) is set to do four days before and during election day, although foreigners have a limited immunity from the Comelec ban since they can drink in certain hotels and establishments with special permits.

The rights commonly advocated by secularists today are reproductive health (RH), divorce, and marriage equality. The RH law grants certain claims to qualified citizens by imposing a duty on the government to provide free contraceptives. The divorce bill seeks to grant couples of failed marriages the privilege to start a new life with a new spouse by relieving them of the duty to remain married to their old partners. Advocates of marriage equality fight for equal rights – not “special” rights – of same sex couples so they can enjoy the same legal recognition, protection, and claims that heterosexual couples often take for granted.

churchUnfortunately, these rights have yet to see the light of day as the supreme court issued a status quo ante order on the recently-passed RH law, while divorce and marriage equality still have to hurdle a tedious legislative process which at any point could stop them in their tracks. While it is the State that holds the power to grant or deny these claims and privileges, those who represent the State are also human beings and may be influenced by their religious beliefs or dictated upon by their religious leaders, adversely affecting the citizens who don’t share their persuasions. In effect, religion – actually just one particular religion – still holds considerable power over all of us whether or not we subscribe to it, the constitutional inviolability of Church-State separation notwithstanding.

And so the advocacy for secularism is an advocacy against theocracy.  It is a struggle against the undue influence of religion in public affairs, a drive to remind our public servants that they answer to the people and not to some church hierarchy. The call for secularism is a call to our fellow citizens to wield their power to choose the life they want to live, to think and act free from fear of excommunication and hell fire while remaining grounded on reason and evidence, and to strive to increase happiness and lessen needless suffering in this world. Ultimately, the advocacy for secularism is an advocacy for immunity from religion, and the advancement of the rights of the rational individual.

If you share this advocacy, please join Filipino Freethinkers as we fight for a true separation of Church and State in the Philippines.

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Image credit: Garrick Bercero

Posted in Advocacy, Gender Rights, Politics, Religion, RH Bill, Secularism0 Comments

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