Archive | Gender Rights

FF Podcast 77: Is Marriage Equality Really an LGBT Victory?

FF Podcast 77: Is Marriage Equality Really an LGBT Victory?

Red Tani and sociologist Nicole Curato explore the implications of the recent US Supreme Court decision that made same-sex marriage legal in all 50 states.

Posted in Advocacy, Gender Rights, Media, Podcast, Religion, Society, Video0 Comments

Tony Meloto and Faith in the Filipino

wec-tony-melotoWith Independence Day upon us, the controversy around Tony Meloto’s University of Hawaii speech reveals much about the racial inferiority complex and machismo culture still deeply entrenched in the Filipino psyche. It reveals how even someone pro-Philippines, pro-poor, and pro-women can succumb to these. More importantly, it reveals how we as a people see ourselves.

Here and then, something comes up and reminds us how our society has a long way to go with nationalistic awareness and racial sensitivity. A while back, I wrote on the blatant “white skin is good, dark skin is bad” message of an FHM cover. Then there was the BAYO campaign that advocated “mixing and matching of different nationalities with Filipino blood” as a “sure formula for someone beautiful and world-class” with a “fighting chance to make it in the world arena in all aspects.”

I wasn’t thinking to write another one; Meloto’s statements have been reported and commented on a lot. But I look up to his achievements. My family patronizes the projects of social entrepreneurs like him, down to our Bayani Brews and Human Nature toiletries. I get a lot of mail from young readers of my blog who feel insecure about their skin color or nose or some other thing that makes them wish they were white instead. I see how a lot of us view Filipino-white marriages as success stories, how perfectly acceptable it is to say, “She hit the jackpot with a foreigner. Her kid should be an artista so she can be rich and high-class!” and elicit agreeing nods rather than looks of discomfort. In light of all these, I feel I have to weigh in.

Meloto is a hero and an inspiration to many, myself included. As one commenter pointed out, his life’s work fills gaps that current government policies are unable to address. Many of us see the country’s problems and do little beyond complaining. Some choose to leave, some choose to look out only for their families. Every day, Meloto chooses to do something. Gawad Kalinga has made a huge contribution towards sustainable development and have spurred others into taking action.

When news of his speech broke out, my initial reaction was that I wanted to see the transcript and hear from people who were there. In an age of political correctness, one can’t be too careful with their words lest they be taken out of context. The Internet mob can be cruel. Things can be exaggerated for sensationalism. Verdicts can be readily passed without hearing all testimonies. Surely we could cut slack a man who serves the poor and the homeless, chalk it up to a lapse in judgment?

Then again, a few who attended his other speeches claim that it wouldn’t be the first time his statements were peppered with sexist and racist punchlines. If this is true, then I’d be inclined to see his words in Hawaii as a reflection of his long-held opinions rather than a one-time blip that could be easily forgiven. Not that he asked for it. In lieu of an apology, his response to the criticisms was to express hurt, reason that he was just trying to be funny, and remind people of the good he’s done.

Say we give Meloto the benefit of the doubt.

He reportedly called the poor hopeless and violent, and practically typecast the men as criminally inclined. Perhaps he developed this way of thinking over two decades of working around them, and it was an off-hand expression of his growing jadedness given several unfortunate incidents he has witnessed through the years.

He reportedly expressed that white men could come here to inspire poor Filipino men to be better. Perhaps he sees their potential to become decent husbands, caring fathers, and effective providers, if only there were white role models to show them how. Perhaps he sees the good traits of foreigners like his two sons-in-law and wants more Filipinos to emulate them, like when we see efficient transportation systems abroad and wish our government would follow suit.

He reportedly said that the beauty of Filipino women is one of the country’s best assets. He recommended that we use this asset to entice foreigners to come here and help make our nation prosper. With the image of a poor Filipino man as hopeless and violent—a chain-smoking, womanizing, compulsive-gambling, alcoholic bum who makes his family’s life hell, perhaps Meloto only wants our beautiful women to be saved by the white knights.

The “success story” can go two ways: rich foreigner rescues Filipina from poverty, or handsome foreigner helps Filipina produce what Meloto jokingly called “cappuccino babies.” He is not alone in believing there is a higher success rate for them, and a lucrative market particularly in the local entertainment industry. Beautiful Filipino women are assets, and cute cappuccino babies are commodities. To that effect, women like me could contribute towards a better Philippines by securing for ourselves a suitable Caucasian husband, nowithstanding our education, skills, and determination.

In all likelihood, the motivation behind Meloto’s statements is good. After 20 years, the ripples of change that he started have yet to make tidal waves. Perhaps he so desperately wants to see our nation rise above our difficulties, to finally be able to go toe-to-toe with the First World, and as far as he can see, the things he mentioned would work. Perhaps this is why he is unapologetic about his words being sexist, racist and elitist, maintaining that his deeds go toward the opposite of these.

Whatever the case, the reality is that many Filipinos share these beliefs, learning from their elders and passing on to their children. Most of them do not even recognize the implications, and thus the need for a paradigm shift.

Among those who do, this may be the reason for the outrage: Meloto was the last person expected to be expressing such notions. As Builder of Dreams, it is his responsibility to advocate not only change, but also hope. Hope is the last thing you bring to the table when you suggest that your people aren’t good enough to make it on their own. Dreams are not what you build when you perpetuate rather than challenge the idea that the success of your country lies on its dependence to foreigners.

Bringing lasting change includes fighting against the things have kept us from growing into our own as a nation: our largely patriarchal culture, our racial insecurity, and our tendency for white worship. These are the ills have oppressed the Filipino people for centuries; poverty and corruption are merely their symptoms.

Many are called, few are chosen. As one of the few, changemaker Tony Meloto has both power and passion to lead this fight. His work inspires us to believe we can turn things around for ourselves.

It would help if he continues to believe it, too.


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Posted in Gender Rights, Personal, Politics0 Comments

FF Podcast 72: Trigger Warnings

FF Podcast 72: Trigger Warnings

This week, we talk about trigger warnings for rape and other topics in fiction. We discuss which topics should have trigger warnings and whether they should exist at all.

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 Gender Rights, Media, Podcast, Society, Video0 Comments

Gov’t May Choose to Hide Findings of New UN Report on Filipino Women

Through our research it has come to our attention that the Philippine government has been constantly delaying its decision on whether to make public the findings of a recent United Nations (UN) inquiry regarding the state of reproductive rights in the city of Manila. The deadline for its decision is March 6, and requests to the Office of the President for a definitive answer by women’s rights groups have apparently been ignored, leaving one to wonder if the government may be hoping the issue might simply blow over quietly.


An inquiry into women’s reproductive rights violations allegedly perpetrated by the Manila city government was conducted over the period of July to November in 2013 by members of the UN CEDAW (Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women) Committee. However, under the terms of the segment of that treaty termed the Optional Protocol, national governments are allowed to choose whether or not to publicly disclose the inquiry’s findings and recommendations for action.

According to the proceedings of the committee published in the website of the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, a member of the CEDAW Committee, one Pramila Patten, met with the Permanent Representative of the Philippines to the UN Office in July of 2014 in Geneva to discuss the Philippine government’s response to the inquiry findings. In the absence of a positive response from the government, the CEDAW Committee decided to defer the decision for publication of the report until the CEDAW committee’s current session this year, which runs from Feb 16 to March 6 2015.

Given this administration’s publicly stated commitment to transparency and woman’s rights, and the support such a report would provide for the speedy and effective implementation of the Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Act of 2012 (colloquially known as the RH Law), the Filipino Freethinkers wishes to join in the call for the government to make the CEDAW Committee’s findings public before March 6.


United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights CEDAW page, session reports

United Nations CEDAW Protocol On State Participation

Imposing Misery, original basis for request of inquiry

Original Philippine Commission on Human Rights statement on Manila City Gov’t

Philippine Star Piece reporting on initiation of original report

Posted in Advocacy, Gender Rights, Organization, Press Releases0 Comments

Men are Cheaters; Women are Gold Diggers (Part 1 of 2)

This article was inspired by a post on the Filipino Freethinkers updates and announcements Facebook group page. One group member casually asked the question, “If all the single men and women left are either philanderers or gold diggers would you look the other way, commit to them and live in delusion because you don’t want to die lonely? Or would you stay single forever?”

The scenario, in my opinion, forces us into what we might call a “false dilemma.” For one it implies that one must “commit” to someone in order to not die lonely, and that loneliness is the reason for why people choose to be in a relationship. But that’s beside the point.

What I found interesting was my own interpretation of the question. I’m not sure if it was intended by the person who posted, but it seemed to me that when the person said “philanderers,” he was referring to the single men; and when he said “gold diggers,” he was referring to the single women.

This is a common association a lot of people make: Men are cheaters; women are gold diggers. I felt that these were rather unfair generalizations. However, I don’t make conclusions based on what I “feel.” I decided to take a quick look at the available information on the subject.

Upset TeenagersDo men cheat more than women? Quick answer: yes. Is it because men are inherently “philanderers”? Nope.

Zach Schonfeld, in a report for The Wire from 2013 writes that, “Wives Are Cheating 40% More Than They Used to, but Still 70% as Much as Men.”

According to Schonfeld, “According to recent data from the National Opinion Research Center’s General Social Survey, American wives were nearly 40 percent more likely to be cheating on their spouses in 2010 than in 1990. The number of husbands reporting infidelity, meanwhile, stayed constant at 21 percent, meaning wives are now cheating 70% as often.”

There are many theories as to why women are, as it seems, suddenly deciding to cheat. Some think it’s because of increased female independence. In other words, women can now afford the consequences of having an affair.

Other people attribute this rise to the cultural shifts happening due to the Internet. There are actually extramarital meetup services like, Ashley Madison, to help facilitate such endeavors.

Schonfeld reports that the data from Ashley Madison confirms the trends revealed by the survey:

“The ratio of males to females is greatest among users older than 65, with 14 men for every woman. The ratio is 4-to-1 among users in their 50s, 3-to-1 for spouses in their 40s, and evenly divided among people using Ashley Madison in their 30s.”

In other words, those whose culture have been influenced by Internet trends, and whose career options and access to resources are not as limited by their sex, are as equally likely to cheat. As the economic gender gap between men and women closes, so does the “cheating gap.”

Based on this information, I think that the reason why men seem to have a higher tendency to cheat is not entirely because of biological reasons (although there are correlations), but rather because society is more permissive of male cheating.

For one, men, especially in the past, often find themselves economically equipped to deal with the consequences. Secondly, when men cheat, they are not publicly shamed as much as women are. At the very least, men are not stripped naked and beaten senseless in public like the poor girl:



In part 2, we’ll take a closer look at the myth that women are “gold-diggers.”


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Posted in Gender Rights, Science, Secularism, Society0 Comments

Meet a Freethinker: Ian Carandang

Meet a Freethinker: Ian Carandang

IAN 1No two freethinkers are exactly alike; a group of freethinkers contains a great diversity of perspectives, so there is no one, official perspective shared among all of them. This makes the freethought community a truly vibrant source of ideas and opinions!

In this light, Meet a Freethinker is our series featuring freethinkers of all backgrounds and perspectives. We want to introduce you guys to the people who make up the proverbial melting pot of this growing movement.

Our next freethinker is Ian Carandang. Ian is the genius behind Sebastian’s Artisanal Ice Cream. He is arguably the foremost artisan ice cream maker in the Philippines, who also just happens to be an advocate for LGBT equality and a freethinker.

You can find his fan page here:

1) How would you define a freethinker?

A critical thinker who does not let himself be defined by dogma.

2) What belief system do you subscribe to?

I consider myself spiritual. I believe there is much we do not know about the Universe. I believe that science and spirituality are not mutually exclusive. And it’s nice to imagine that we are all connected. Einstein himself said “Energy cannot be created or destroyed, it can only be changed from one form to another.”

3) What was the funniest or most interesting reaction you got from a person after you told him or her that you were a freethinker?

I don’t really go around doing that, brandishing some sort of Freethinker ‘card’. I just consider myself a Critical thinker and act from there.

4) Aside from reason & science, are there other advocacies you promote?

LGBT Rights. Being gay myself, it’s a very important and personal issue to me, obviously, and I try to do what I can in my own small ways. For example for this year’s Pride March, Sebastian’s will have a booth there, and I will be selling Pride Pops, Paletas in the colors of the Rainbow Pride and Bear Pride flags.


I chose Paletas (Artisanal Mexican Ice Pops) because I made a rainbow flag Ice Cream before — successfully, I might add — but the problem with that format was that it looked great only in the tub, but as soon as you scooped it, all those colors were lost and you just got a messy multicolored sphere. With Paletas, you can keep the Rainbow flags as visible all the way up until you finish them, and you can celebrate your Pride in a refreshing way.

Both Pride Pops will be available at the Manila Pride March Bazaar in Remedios Circle this weekend on December 6.

Posted in Gender Rights, Meet a Freethinker, Personal0 Comments

Homophobia: 60 Years After the Death of Alan Turing

Alan Turing was a mathematical genius, a wartime code breaker, a computer pioneer, and, to some extent, a British spy ala James Bond. He was among a number of code-breakers who decrypted Nazi military codes, saving millions of lives in the process.


The Filipino Freethinkers LGBT Pride March 2014 Banner

Alan Turing is also one of the pillars that has enabled our current information age. The technology behind computers, mobile phones, and even the Internet was based on the mathematical models he developed. Alan Turing innovated mathematical models that would become the backbone of technological progress. Alan Turing helped defeat the Nazis. Alan Turing is a pioneer, a hero, and a genius. He’s easily one of the greatest men who ever lived.

It’s such a shame that 60 years ago, 1954, Turing was prosecuted by the same government he helped protect, and by the same people whose lives he would improve because of his contributions to science and technology. Why was he prosecuted? Because he was gay.

When Turing was convicted, he was given the choice to either spend 2 years in jail, or undergo a hormone “therapy” that would leave him chemically castrated. With this conviction, he also lost his security clearance as well as his role in the government’s communication headquarters. Aside from that, the side effects of the chemical castration caused him severe depression.

He committed suicide at the age of 41.

Such is the face of homophobia. It’s reveals a picture of humanity at it’s most bigoted. It has robbed humanity of a genius and a hero. Who knows what other contributions Turing may have made if he was given the same liberty extended to straight people.

Homophobia continues to claim victims 60 years after Turing’s death. The persecution suffered by Turing persists until today. Homophobic discrimination is still prevalent. Hate crimes are still committed against the LGBT. Gay kids are still being bullied.

This is the reason why there is a need for events that promote LGBT awareness and tolerance.

The Filipino Freethinkers are happy to announce that we will be marching with our LGBT allies as part of both the Metro Manila Pride March (Dec. 6) and the QC Pride March (Dec. 13). We march in the hope that homophobic discrimination will one day be eradicated from civil society.

Turing 2

The Filipino Freethinkers #ThanksTuring Pride March Shirts

To celebrate Alan Turing’s contributions to science and technology, and to bring awareness to the unfair prosecution of great men and women of the LGBT, the Filipino Freethinkers will be marching with Alan Turing shirts and banners.

We invite everyone to join our contingent in expressing our support for the LGBT community.


If you would like to march as part of the Filipino Freethinkers contingent in the 2014 Metro Manila Pride March, please visit our event page:

If you would like to march as part of the Filipino Freethinkers contingent in the QC Pride March 2014, please visit our event page:

Posted in Advocacy, Freedom of Expression, Gender Rights, Science, Society0 Comments

FF Podcast 54 (Audio): Jennifer Laude was a Woman

FF Podcast 54 (Audio): Jennifer Laude was a Woman

FF Podcast 54 - Jennifer Laude was a Woman

Podcast host Red Tani is joined by sociologist Nicole Curato to discuss Jennifer Laude, her murder, and her identity as a woman.

You may also download the podcast file here.

Filipino Freethinkers Podcast (Audio) feed

Filipino Freethinkers Podcast (Audio) feed

Filipino Freethinkers Podcast (Audio) on iTunes

Filipino Freethinkers Podcast (Audio) on iTunes

Posted in Audio, audio podcast, Gender Rights, Society0 Comments

Laude Did Not Know Pemberton was a Killer

The following quote is a comment written as a response to the article, “The Ugly Reality of Transphobia in the Philippines“:

“In the perspective of sex work, lives of transgendered sex workers is at risk in many ways. They have many stories untold, and Jeniffer’s story is one. Given the circumstances her bringing the service man to the hotel herself, stories of transgendered sex workers is reverberating. If the service man really intended to hook up with Jennifer and he knows she was a transgender/transwoman and his purpose was to torture and kill her, I think it is right to say it is hate crime and the element of homophobia is present.

But as the case unfolds, her story is just like our transgender sex workers who don’t disclose their gender to their partner. This practice also inspired Blakdyaks song ‘modeling charing’ (that I guess everyone listening to even gays themselves enjoys it not knowing the popular song promotes transphobia). The only difference is, Jennifer’s life was taken and by rage.”

The comment, in my opinion, seems to suggest that part of the reason Jennifer was attacked was because she did not fully disclose her status to the suspect.

PembertonThe headline a recent Philippine Star article decided to publish, “Pemberton did not know Laude was a transgender,” also seems to suggest that her non-disclosure was relevant to the crime committed.

It’s not.

The victim was killed NOT because she didn’t disclose her transgender status. The victim was killed because Pemberton is a killer. The suffering that the suspect allegedly put the victim through is a criminal act, and can’t be justified in any situation.

One can argue that there are situations where it’s dangerous for a transgender to conceal her transgender status. However, it’s also a fact that there are significant safety concerns that make it difficult for a transgender to be upfront about her status as well.

It is not the moral duty of a transgender woman to randomly volunteer information about her transgender status. She has a right to her own personal information, and it should be up to her, if and when she wants that information to be revealed. Coming out as a transgender woman to anyone is difficult. It’s a personal and private struggle that cisgender people (people who are born with a gender identity that matches their biology) and heterosexuals will find difficult to understand completely. Whether or not she wants to share these private details is ultimately up to her.

Pemberton’s “abrupt discovery” may have contributed to his rage, but it doesn’t change the fact that he allegedly made a decision to cause a human being excess suffering because of what he may have perceived as a deceptive act.

Also, why are we making excuses for the violence committed?

If the victim was not a transgender woman, but a cisgender woman, would people still make excuses for the violence done?

Let’s say that there was a man who exclusively slept with virgins. One day he consents to have intercourse with a woman who he assumed was a virgin. Then, before they have intercourse, the man discovers that the woman was, in fact, no longer a virgin. He feels deceived and decides to kill her. Would anyone be making excuses for the killer then?

The relevance of Jennifer’s gender and profession is brought into question only because the crime happened in a community that is prejudiced against prostitutes, sex workers, and transgender women. If the same crime happened to a heterosexual, cisgender woman, it’s unlikely that the public’s response would be similar.

Even if a man was upset because he almost had sex with a person outside his preferences because of the latter’s deception, he still shouldn’t kill her. The same goes for this particular situation. A person who finds himself in this situation has a right to be upset, because he did not prefer to sleep with a transgender woman, but he still should not commit homicide.

Did Jennifer’s failure to disclose that she was a transgender woman increase the risk of violence? Possibly. But even if the discovery of Jennifer’s transgender status was what agitated the suspect, it doesn’t change the fact that what Pemberton allegedly did was wrong.

Jennifer’s failure to disclose her transgender status SHOULD NOT HAVE resulted in her death, and the only reason that it did, is because she was unfortunate enough to have had relations with a prejudiced killer.

The Philippine Star headline should have been written as, “Laude did not know Pemberton was a killer.”


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Posted in Gender Rights, Politics, Society1 Comment

FF Podcast 53 (Audio): Is the Church More LGBT-Friendly Now?

FF Podcast 53 (Audio): Is the Church More LGBT-Friendly Now?

FF Podcast 53 - Is the Church More LGBT-Friendly Now?

The Catholic Church recently held a synod and discussed how they treat LGBT members. This week, we talk about whether it’s all PR or if there has been real change.

You may also download the podcast file here.

Filipino Freethinkers Podcast (Audio) feed

Filipino Freethinkers Podcast (Audio) feed

Filipino Freethinkers Podcast (Audio) on iTunes

Filipino Freethinkers Podcast (Audio) on iTunes

Posted in audio podcast, Gender Rights, Religion, Society0 Comments

The Ugly Reality of Transphobia in the Philippines

Jennifer Laude was found dead in the bathroom. She was slumped on the toiled seat, peppered with black and blue bruises. She also had bruises on her neck. Her feet were also bruised. Reporters are not sure whether she died from the injuries she sustained from the beating that she took, or from being strangled. She was murdered.

Let’s try that again.

Jefferey Laude was found dead in the bathroom. He was slumped on the toilet seat, peppered with black and blue bruises. He also had bruises on his neck. His feet were also bruised. Reporters are not sure whether he died from the injuries he sustained from the beating that he took, or from being strangled. He was murdered.

I’m not here to discuss whether Jeffrey/Jennifer Laude should be considered a he or a she. People can debate on his or her gender all they want, but what we can’t debate about is that this person was the victim of a crime. This person was murdered.

Laude 5

When a person is murdered, regardless of sex or gender, the ethical human response should be outrage or, at least, sorrow. If this tragedy happened to a straight woman or a straight man, that’s exactly the kind of response we could expect from the majority.

However, I don’t think some Filipinos see transgender individuals as people. That’s the only reason I can imagine why there are over 200 comments posted on insulting, cursing, and mocking the murder victim.

Many of these comments express disgust and indignation, not because a person was brutally murdered, but because “a tranny tried to have sex with a straight man”:

Laude 1

Many comments expressed satisfaction that karmic justice was served, not because a murderer was caught, but because “a sinner was punished”:

Laude 2

Some comments even suggested that it was funny, and it was Jennifer’s fault that she was murdered because she was “pretending to be a woman”:

Laude 3

The insults and curses hurled at the victim has even inspired its own photo album in Facebook:

Image 1

This attitude towards the transgender is not surprising though, especially in a country with a reputation for being religious and conservative. The Philippines, for one, is the last country without divorce and many of our religious countrymen are proud of being the last stronghold of idiocy.

Unfortunately for the LGBT community, research done by Wade Rowatt and colleagues from Baylor University in the States learned that religiousness and conservatism are the top two factors that account for a person’s homophobia.

Here’s a graph:

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It should be no surprise that hate crimes against the LGBT community are tolerated in a country where majority of the people identify as Catholics, Christians, or Muslims; all of them, religions that hate homosexuality.

I can provide a litany of research proving how those who believe themselves to be the holiest of the holy, the most righteous of the righteous, the most faithful of the faithful, the most religious of the religious, the closest to God, are the most determined advocates of hate and bigotry. The most fervent believers of homophobic religious doctrine inevitably become the most homophobic people. When a person is indoctrinated and trained from childhood to hate homosexuality, it’s rather difficult to unlearn it as an adult.

The suspect, obviously, is himself transphobic. He probably can’t tell the difference between a homosexual and a trans-woman. He probably doesn’t give a shit about those subtle differences either. This may sound a little racist, but studies do prove that Americans are less accepting of homosexuality than other westerners and religion may have something to do with it.

Many Filipinos have no empathy for the murder victim, Jennifer/Jefferey Laude, simply because of religion. They were raised to believe that any non-heterosexual person is a Sodomite; a disordered sinner that deserves divine punishment, in the same way the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah were punished – with the righteous vengeance of a brutal God.

The Philippines’ religiousness and conservatism simply can’t peacefully co-exist with homosexuality. In the minds of some Filipinos, it might as well be God beating up the victim.

It doesn’t take a genius to understand that the Catholic hierarchy hates LGBT people. Just recently a bishop said that homosexuals should not be invited to the dinner table if there are children present, because impressionable children should not be exposed to something so “intrinsically disordered.”

Some people would argue that homophobic doctrines, like the Bible, don’t necessarily cause homophobia. They say things like, “But the Bible also has verses about love and tolerance…”

Are you serious? The Bible said that homosexuality is an abomination. The Bible also said that an adulteress should be stoned to death. The Bible also said that a rape victim should marry her rapist. Unfortunately, the context for these verses are not explained because the Bible doesn’t have editor’s footnotes. Many believers also suggest it’s “open to interpretation.” Well, anything can be open to interpretation. Even “Dora the Explorer” can be interpreted from a Marxist perspective.

However, there is a limit to the number of ways one can interpret, “Gay = Abomination.” If you think that these verses, as they appear in the Bible, do not at all, inspire prejudice or bigotry, you need a mental health evaluation.

The Bible, along with other homophobic religious doctrines, are books filled with hate. These books don’t belong in any society that aspires for gender equality. As long as there are people who adhere to Biblical authority, to verses that call homosexuals abominations, there will always be members of the LGBT community found dead in toilets and there will always be people celebrating the torture of the victim.

Posted in Gender Rights, Politics, Pop Culture, Religion, Society7 Comments

Entitlement: Creating Killers and Divas One Spoiled Brat at a Time

The site Jezebel reports that a week ago, a man has slashed a woman’s neck after she refused to talk to him. At around 5:20 am, on October 1, a woman was in the lobby of a building in New York when a man approached her in an attempt to make conversation. She refused to talk to him and turn away. As soon as she did, he grabbed her from behind and slashed her neck.

Two days ago, Mary Spears, an engaged mother-of-three was harassed in a bar. A man came up to her and said, “Can I get your name, your number?” She told him that she was in a relationship, but he persisted. Because of the constant harassment, the man was asked to leave the venue. However, he later confronted Spears and shot her three times, killing her.

Last May, Elliot Rodger posted a video complaining about how women have rejected his advances, even though he was a gentleman. He also ranted about still being a virgin at the age of 22. Because of these perceived slights, he promises ‘retribution’ and ‘punishment.’ Later, he killed 6 people.

These men shared a similar attitude towards women; they felt entitled to a woman’s affection, or at least, attention. When they encountered resistance, they felt as if they were being deprived of something that they deserved. This frustration has led them to commit violence.


“Nice Guy Syndrome” aka “Irrational Feelings of Sexual Entitlement”

I’m not saying that all men are capable of killing a woman out of frustration. I’m saying that there is proof that a sense of entitlement is a predictor of violence toward women.

According to a study found by ScienceDaily

“…for men, entitlement was associated with hostile views of women. Entitled men were more likely to endorse views of women as manipulative, deceptive, and untrustworthy — attitudes, which past research has shown are predictors of violence toward women.”

A common complaint made by men about women who reject them is, “She never even gave me a chance.” Some men perceive that “not being given a chance” represents an opportunity they were deprived of. What most men and women should start to understand is that the attention another person provides is a privilege, not a right.

I get where entitled men are coming from. I used to harbor the same illusion that “girls should, at least, listen to my pickup line when I try to talk to them in bars.”

Here’s what men might be thinking:

“I am entitled to this opportunity, because I live in a society that has essentially required me to approach a woman to reduce the odds that I’ll die single. This is ‘me,’ taking matters into my own hands; being a man. The choices are clear: it’s either I approach a woman, or I never get a date, because women will never approach men.”

This type of logic holds a number of sexist assumptions. For one, a man who thinks this way may have associated the idea of pursuit with his own masculine identity. He may be thinking that he’s simply performing a gender role. To some extent, when a man approaches a woman, he may actually believe that he’s simply being “masculine.” If he gets rejected, he may feel slighted, because he may see the rejection as a hostile act that robs him of his ability to express his sexual identity as a man.

In other words, he’s being told to stop his inappropriate advances, but he may interpret it as being told to stop being a man.

I’m not surprised that entitlement and sexism are correlated. Sexist people think in terms of binaries. A sexist man believes that he is supposed to be the “active” participant in the courtship dance, and a woman is supposed to be the “passive” recipient of his advances. When he’s told to stop being “active,” to stop advancing, he feels like he’s been robbed of his birthright – the right to pursue.

However, men are just one half of the entitled, sexist club.

In the same article, it was mentioned that:

“Conversely, the researchers found women who have a high sense of entitlement are likely to demand men take care of them because they are weak and frail. A large body of research shows that such demands lead to women being viewed as too weak and placed in roles where they are not allowed to advance in education and jobs.”

The research also reports on how feelings of entitlement affect men and women differently. Generally, entitled men are more prone to exhibiting hostile sexism; many of them held misogynistic beliefs and viewed women as manipulative and demanding. On the other hand, entitled women exhibited benevolent sexism. They harbored the “princess mentality” and thought that women deserved special care and treatment, because they were, you know, women.

That’s not even the bad news yet.

According to a report by Richard Alleyne, the science correspondent of The Telegraph, there’s a study that shows how “Those who were born into ‘Generation Y’ have an over-inflated sense of entitlement, [but] lack the work ethic to achieve their goals.” What the study reveals is that our generation, those born between 1980 and 1990, is fostering an entire generation who think they’re “special” and should be treated as such.

According to the article:

“Professor Paul Harvey, of the University of Hampshire, carried out a series of studies measuring psychological entitlement and narcissism on a group of Gen -Yers and found they scored 25 per cent higher than respondents ages 40 to 60 and 50 per cent higher than those over 61.”

Entitled men believe that they deserve a woman’s adoration and desire, by default, or by simply being “nice guys” (See: “Nice Guy Sydrome“); they feel that they don’t need a woman’s permission to pursue her romantically or sexually, by default, because they are men; they feel that if they are sexually attracted to a woman, being the woman’s friend is something they are entitled to complain about (See: “Friend Zone“).

Women feel that they deserve to be taken care of and provided for, by default, because they are women (In fact, 75% of women will not even date an unemployed man).

However, although entitlement corrupts both men and women, entitlement in men have worse consequences.

Let’s take a closer look at the behavioral disparity between the sexes:

  • An entitled woman, who has diva or princess delusions, throws a histrionic fit when her expectations are not met. It’s possible that she thinks she’s entitled to a man’s resources, expecting to be provided for.
  • An entitled man, who thinks he should be “permitted” to “woo” women he is romantically interested in, may turn into a violent psycho once the permission he assumed was there is withdrawn. It’s possible that he thinks he’s entitled to a woman’s body.

The only conclusion I can think of from the material I’ve read is that entitlement turns men and women into horrible people, but it makes men significantly more horrible. Unfortunately, we’re living in an era littered with an entire generation of psychotic, narcissistic, entitled assholes. I think that this might be the only generation in history that would benefit from being told, “You’re not entitled to a beautiful woman, or a wealthy man, or even a job, really.”

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Posted in Gender Rights, Personal, Philosophy, Pop Culture, Science, Society1 Comment

Does The Church Accept Boy Abunda?

Boy-Abunda-health-conditionA special episode of “The Bottomline with Boy Abunda” aired last Sunday. In the show, Boy Abunda was asked if he believes that living the life of a gay man is a sin. Boy Abunda explained, “I do not agree to all the teachings of the Church, and one of them is saying that, ‘We’re okay with homosexuality, but the moment you practice, the moment you have sex, it is a sin.'” He later added, “How can love be a sin?”

I’m glad that Boy Abunda asks the right questions about love and faith, but I don’t think he has the right information. I’m sorry, Boy, but The Church is not okay with homosexuality.

John Finnis’ article, “Reason, Faith and Homosexual Acts,” provides a very thorough breakdown as to why homosexuality can never be “okay” from a Catholic perspective.

The article mentions that:

The Church refuses to consider the person as a ‘heterosexual’ or a ‘homosexual’ and insists that every person has a fundamental identity: the creature of God and, by grace, his child and heir to eternal life.

The Church does not believe in sexual orientation or sexual preference. There is no such thing as a homosexual. People are not gay or straight, and their preference for men or women is irrelevant. People are either men or women, period. So, The Church doesn’t consider Boy Abunda a “homosexual.” The Church was never okay with Boy Abunda being a homosexual; they were okay with him being a man who has homosexual inclinations, but doesn’t do homosexual acts.

What The Church wants Boy Abunda to do, really, is to not have sex with boys, and start having sex with a girl that he has married, because The Church believes that although Boy Abunda may prefer men, they don’t think he’s incapable of having sex with women.

According to the article:

That is to say, most people who engage, or have an inclination to engage, in homosexual activity also engage, or are more or less inclined to engage, in sexual activity with a person or persons of the opposite sex.  Very many homosexual persons – persons with homosexual inclinations – marry and have children by their spouse.

The Church thinks that the only reason Boy Abunda doesn’t want to have sex with girls is because something went wrong with his sexual development, or because he saw gays having sex, or because he didn’t get a proper education, or he developed a habit of homosexuality. But, even though there are a lot of disordered gays out there, it’s okay, because gayness, according to The Church, might be curable.

According to the article:

The Church observes that in some homosexual persons the homosexual inclination (= orientation) comes, it seems, “from a false education, from a lack of normal sexual development, from habit, from bad example, or from other similar causes, and is transitory or at least not incurable.

Although The Church acknowledges the fact that a person’s homosexuality may have been inborn, meaning it wasn’t a choice, they still think it’s wrong.

According to the article:

The Christian teaching from the outset, has been that no homosexual acts are ever justified, even the acts of someone whose inclination to engage in them is ‘innate’ (that is, present at birth) and, in one sense of the word, ‘natural.’

The main reason homosexual attraction can never be morally justified from a Christian perspective is because they view homosexuals as inevitable adulterers.

The article says:

As Jesus makes clear, this natural communion requires for its integrity not only the sexual intercourse of the spouses (Matt. 19: 5), but also the complete and unwavering mastery and overcoming – by everyone, married or unmarried — of every desire for sexual contact or enjoyment outside marriage (Matt. 5: 27).

What that means is that it is morally wrong for anyone to lust outside of marriage. Unfortunately, for gays, they can’t ever lust within a marriage, because they’re not allowed to get married. The Church is basically telling Boy Abunda, “It’s okay to be a man with gay inclinations as long as you don’t do any sex outside of marriage; but you can’t get married, so doing sex in any circumstance is immoral.”

The Church doesn’t accept Boy Abunda, or any homosexual for that matter. But in my opinion, Boy Abunda shouldn’t worry. I personally think Boy Abunda has more moral authority than The Church. Here are 5 reasons why:

1. Boy Abunda did not have Galileo arrested and imprisoned for being right about heliocentrism.

2. Boy Abunda never burnt a 19-year-old girl at the stake for heresy.

3. Boy Abunda didn’t start an Inquisition to drive Muslims out of Europe.

4. Boy Abunda didn’t cover up child abuse crimes by priests. Neither did he spend over 4 billion dollars in settlements to shut victims up.

5. Boy Abunda never threatened his followers with eternal damnation just so he can sell them Indulgences, to buy back their salvation.

If The Church doesn’t accept Boy Abunda, he doesn’t have to accept them. They don’t have monopoly on God. Boy Abunda can worship, love, believe, and serve his God from the comfort of his own home, or his new Hummer, free from any discrimination based on gender, orientation, or preference.

The good news is, you can too.


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Posted in Gender Rights, Personal, Pop Culture, Religion, Society0 Comments

Is Victim Blaming Always Irrational?

stop-victim-blamingVictim blaming, which is said to occur when “the victim of a crime or any wrongful act is held entirely or partially responsible for the harm that befell them,” is perceived by many as irrational because it shifts the blame or at least a part thereof from the real offender to the innocent victim. They contend that the victim has zero responsibility every time regardless of the circumstances.

I intend to challenge this absolutist position.

When comedian Ricky Gervais posted a tweet about the leaked nude photos of Jennifer Lawrence and other celebrities, people called him out for victim blaming. In his tweet, which he later deleted, Gervais wrote:

“Celebrities, make it harder for hackers to get nude pics of you from your computer by not putting nude pics of yourself on your computer.”

The following are some of the responses he received:

@rickygervais, Ah, victim-blaming at its finest. “If you don’t want people to break into your house and steal your things, don’t own things.” – Brian Herbert

@rickygervais this is like telling women, make it harder for rapists to rape you by not going outside. – Jen Italia

While Gervais’ tweet was done in bad taste, I do not find it necessarily illogical as what the responses seem to suggest with their analogies. My position is that there are certain instances where victims can be held at least partially responsible for the harm that befell them, and those instances are where they acted negligently, and especially if they were grossly negligent.

Negligence is defined as “failure to exercise the care that a reasonably prudent person would exercise in like circumstances.” Now whether the celebrities’ act of uploading their nude photos on the Internet constitutes gross or even simple negligence is an issue beyond the scope of my contention, because in order to resolve it certain facts need to be established, like how secure were the sites they used, how strong were their passwords, and what other necessary precautions they took or did not take.

For sure, however, not uploading one’s nude photos if you don’t want them leaked cannot be equated to not owning things if you don’t want people to break into your house and steal your things, or to not going outside if you don’t want to be raped. The analogies used by those who responded to Gervais’ tweet certainly do not constitute even simple negligence. We only need to ask the question: Would a reasonably prudent person not own things, or never go outside?

On the other hand, uploading nude photos involves a presumably unnecessary risk to one’s privacy. Of course, it is also entirely possible that the person actually did not know the risks, or had a compelling reason to back up photos online. These factors would certainly modify the dynamics of blame, but their existence is not to be presumed. Someone who knows how to upload photos will probably have a basic idea of the risks involved, and I cannot think of a compelling reason for a person to upload naked selfies. But even if you can come up with something, such “compelling reason” would probably be the exception rather than the norm, hence, its existence is not to be presumed.

For a better perspective, let us say person A, a famous actress, uploads to a non-secure site, not her naked photos, but those of her friend, person B, another famous actress. The site gets hacked and the photos are leaked. Would person B not have the right to blame person A – to hold her at least partially responsible for compromising her privacy? Can person A raise the defense that it is the hackers who should be held entirely responsible for the leak?

The problem with the term “victim blaming” is that it seems to imply that a person is being blamed because he or she is a victim, when in fact the reason for the blame is that he/she acted negligently. This is made clear in the above example where the one who acted with negligence and the victim of the privacy breach which the negligent act helped make possible are not the same person.

Moreover, we must distinguish between criminal liability and the non-criminal culpability arising from negligence. In the case of hacking, no amount of negligence on the part of the person uploading private photos to a non-secure site can remove or even diminish the hacker’s criminal liability in invading other people’s privacy. Just because the victim acted negligently does not mean that the hacker acted less criminally.

A friend of mine expressed this in another way:

“What people who keep bandying about the ‘victim-blaming’ argument seem to scarcely understand is that blame isn’t a zero-sum game where holding the victim partially responsible for her victimhood (i.e., if she can be said to have done something she knew would significantly increase the likelihood of being victimized) removes a proportional amount of blame from the victimizer; a victimizer can be 100% responsible for a crime (whatever it is) while the victim can be partially responsible for knowingly placing herself in a situation that increased the odds of said crime taking place. There is no contradiction there.”

Suppose a guy who jogs at night decides for no compelling reason to change his route and passes through a dangerous part of town known for its alarming number of muggings. He enters a dark alley and, sure enough, gets mugged and robbed of his wallet which contained a lot of cash and all his IDs and credit cards. At this point some people would probably say that the jogger should not be held even partially responsible for his loss and that all the blame should be laid on the mugger because it was the latter who committed the entire crime and the jogger took no part in it.

But let’s suppose that hours before his evening run he went to a wedding for which he borrowed his friend’s gold watch that happens to be an heirloom. He didn’t remove the watch when he went out jogging to that dangerous part of town. He gets mugged and loses his friend’s watch along with his own wallet.

If you were his friend, would you hold him responsible, not for the mugging because the criminal liability solely belongs to the robber, but for losing your watch because he was being grossly negligent for wearing it when he knows he’ll be passing through a dangerous area?

If you say yes, would you also hold him partly responsible for the loss of his own wallet in the same mugging incident? If your answer to the second question is no, then how do you distinguish between losing his own wallet and losing your watch? What fundamental distinction lies between a person’s negligence that contributed to his own loss and the negligence that contributed to another’s such that the negligent person can be blamed for the latter but not for the former?

But if your answer to the first question about holding your friend responsible for losing your watch is no, then I’d be very interested to hear your reasons for finding no fault on his part. And if you decide to play with words and say that you blame him for acting negligently but not for losing your watch (since it’s the mugger who’s solely to blame for that), then would you still blame your friend if he returned home safe and sound with your watch in one piece?

To blame means “to say or think that a person or thing is responsible for something bad that has happened.” If nothing bad happened, there is nothing to blame. A person can be blamed for something bad that has happened, or he can be blamed because of his role in allowing that bad thing to happen in that particular instant.

It must be stressed, however, that life is full of risks, some of which are unavoidable, and not acting negligently does not guarantee that one will not be mugged or that no nude photos will be leaked, or that one will never suffer any tragedy.  But to knowingly place oneself in a situation where risk is unnecessarily increased is to act with gross negligence. Even if the jogger in the above example never went to that dark alley or even if he invested in a treadmill and stayed at home, he could still be mugged elsewhere, or he could be robbed of his friend’s watch at the parking lot right after the wedding. The only difference is that he could not be blamed for losing it in that particular incident because he did not go out of his way to increase the chances of a bad thing happening.

After all, in this so-called “victim blaming,” what’s being blamed is not the victimhood.

It’s the negligence.

* * * * * * * * * *


Some readers might be tempted to draw a simplistic analogy from the mugging scenarios and relate them to rape. I caution them from doing so. Rape is a far more complex issue than mugging and nude photo leaks, and the dynamics of rape requires a deeper analysis than what this article provides. Here is an article that discusses victim blaming in rape cases. It is up to the reader to decide, after reading that other article, whether the principles laid down in this article apply to rape cases.

Posted in Advocacy, Gender Rights, Society3 Comments