Tag Archive | "gender"

FF Podcast 66 (Audio): Hens and Gender-Neutral Pronouns

FF Podcast 66: Hens and Gender-Neutral Pronouns

What is a “hen”? Sweden has added a gender-neutral pronoun to their language. We talk about this and whether measures like this impacts gender equality in culture and society.

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

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FF Podcast 66: Hens and Gender-Neutral Pronouns

Sweden is adding the pronoun “hen” to their dictionaries. This week we talk about Sweden and gender-sensitive language.

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 Media, Podcast, Society, VideoComments (0)

FF Podcast (Audio) 26: Feminism

Sylvia Claudio and Leloy Claudio

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.

Filipino Freethinkers Podcast (Audio) feed

Filipino Freethinkers Podcast (Audio) feed

Filipino Freethinkers Podcast (Audio) on iTunes

Filipino Freethinkers Podcast (Audio) on iTunes

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Today I Will Justify My Sexism Using God

While we write a lot about the shitty things the Catholic hierarchy tries to impose on people because of their particular interpretation of God, that’s not to say that other sects of Christianity are not busy trying to get humans to be horrible to each other because bible bible bible bible.

Take this example of a campus minister associated with Victory Christian Fellowship, Joppet Tan, who posted this casually sexist idea on his Facebook account in response to seeing an advertisement on a train.

#hashtags make you #cool

Joppet Tan thinks that because God God bible bible God bible God, women should be powerless when it comes to initiating relationships going so far as to admonish women with, “God designed you to be pursued”.

This kind of thinking, that women are “different” (lesser) from men when it comes to relationships is a prevalent one in this strain of Christianity. These are the ideas that this minister is trying to get his flock to accept.

This is the fucking backwards ass “get-back-in-the-kitchen-woman” kind of idea that needs to be fought vigorously to put all genders on an equal footing. And yet here in 2013 we have a pastor trying to wrap this monumentally shitty idea, that women are lesser than men, in a religious veneer to try to get people to accept it.

Joppet Tan, it says something horrible about your God when you say that He explicitly made women to be objects of pursuit for men while denying women the right to do the same to men.

It reveals something vile about your views of women when you think that their pursuit of men would mean they’d be stuck chasing men for the rest of their life. Or it shows how little you think of men that you think they can’t accept being pursued by a woman.

And if you’re so blinded by faith that you’re even unable to accept a different gender role for women in a heterosexual relationship, I can’t even imagine you would consider the idea of women pursuing other women.

Joppet Tan’s Facebook post has quite rightly received a backlash for pushing this idea, but did he learn anything from all of the replies he received?


Nope. Of course he’s a martyr. So the lesson here folks is that if you want to justify your shitty behaviour WHILE protecting it from criticism, use the bible bible God God bible God.

Posted in Religion, SocietyComments (22)

A Very, Very Narrow-Minded View on Gay Marriage

marriage-equality-1I hate to admit this but my mind is pretty impenetrable. After reading what passes for a “stand” on legalizing same-sex marriage in the Philippines, my opinion on the matter remains the same. I just can’t (and I probably never will) understand why anyone would want to vote against gay people getting married.

I hate hearing people say that same-sex marriages will destroy the sanctity of that union. On the top of my head, here are 5 things that are currently destroying the sanctity of marriage:

  1. Domestic violence.
  2. Non-consensual non-monogamy (or infidelity with deliberate deceit).
  3. Getting married because of economic reasons.
  4. Getting married because someone got knocked up.
  5. Getting married under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

Nobody’s asking me but I don’t think marriages were ever sacred. Most marriages in the good old days were done to acquire land, to obtain financial security, to improve social status, to gain more political power…  pretty much the same reasons why most people are getting married today. Romantic love is a fairly recent invention but as far as myths go, it’s also a fairly good thing to put your faith in. I get very giddy when I see couples holding hands while walking because even though it doesn’t seem to exist for me, it’s nice to see that it is real for some people. They’re not hurting me, unless I’m particularly hormonal that day and I start wondering why I’m still single.

I’m also perpetually perplexed by people who cry foul for their divine being of choice. Take the people who believe in Judeo-Christian god for example. You’ll occasionally find them protesting on the streets carrying “God hates fags” posters (even though their god allegedly created everything – hell included because, as you might know, Lucifer came from heaven too). I envy them because they have so much time in their hands, as I’m pretty sure it takes a while to organize a protest. It takes time and effort to create banners and posters but I suppose nothing bonds people closer than a common enemy. All that hate must have the kick of a million energy drinks.

Anyway, it perplexes me because if they hate “fags” so much… why not just let them burn in hell? What’s all the fuss trying to save damned souls? Don’t you people want more space in heaven? I’m pretty sure all your efforts have already been recognized by the bearded one upstairs. Do good and be good, that’s all you need to do right? I checked the Bible and from what I can tell, there are only two things that will guarantee safe passage to hell: suicide and doubt. So unless you killed yourself and/or you’re an atheist, all you need to do is to ask for forgiveness and you’re all set to go up.

Marriage isn’t as sacred as you want to think it is and the promise of hell for other people seems desirable if you hate them, which leaves us with… it’s unnatural?

Do you know what I think is unnatural? Wearing clothes. Animals don’t wear clothes. Why don’t we legislate a law against wearing clothes? Especially hideous ones like leopard prints. And glittery shoes. Why do people wear these things? Sometimes together. It’s just unnatural. Let’s ban it.

Oh, what’s that? I’m using my own subjective opinion of what is fashionable? You mean to say that I can continue to disapprove of them without depriving them the pleasure of being dressed horribly? And what’s that? They think my outfits are just as bad? Wait, wait, wait. Do you mean to tell me that we can coexist being poorly dressed and disapproving of each other without having to ban anything?

Alright, alright. I have to be honest. The reason why I’m this close-minded is because I like humans. Not women, not men: humans. Have I kissed a girl and liked it? Indeed I have. She was a very beautiful, very intelligent but also very silly adult female and we never had sex but I loved her for seven years and we didn’t hurt anyone but each other.

I know it’s hard to look at something you find unsightly. I really, really find leopard print and glittery shoes ugly but here’s a trick that addresses the problem: turn away. No one is asking me to approve, no one is asking me to change my opinion about it, but I’m very aware that I don’t have the right to tell them that they should stop wearing that abominable print simply because I find it weird. I don’t think anyone has the right to tell anyone that they are not allowed to love someone simply because they happen to be of the same sex.

On the top of my head, here are 3 pairings that need more negative attention than same-sex couples:

  1. “Consensual” pedophilia. I’m pretty close-minded about this too. I don’t think it’s proper to sexualize children.
  2. People afflicted with Stockholm Syndrome.
  3. Rape victims who are forced to marry their rapists.

There’s just so much suffering in the world. I just don’t see the point of depriving anyone of some modest amount of joy, no matter how temporary it may be or even if I get nothing out of it. I don’t plan on ever getting married so this really doesn’t concern me. I’m pretty sure it doesn’t concern straight people either so I don’t see why they have so much say in it. Pardon my ignorance.

Posted in Advocacy, Gender Rights, Personal, Politics, SocietyComments (5)

13 Comments that Put dboncan in My LGBT Spotlight

Dear dboncan,

Thank you for reading my article “Why LGBT people must get personal with the Catholic Church.” I read through the comments you made on the Filipino Freethinkers site and picked out 13 that I thought I could address immediately. The rest of your comments were clearly opinions that I know you will hold on to dearly so I will treat them with respect by setting them aside.

Let me be transparent with you. My objective for taking time and responding to you today is, at the most, to turn you into an ally, and at the least, to change some of your perceptions by giving you needed information.

Of course, this is only possible if both of us keep an open mind and remain calm and objective. So if, at any point, you show signs that you have closed your mind about the topic without hopes of turning you into an ally, or make personal remarks similar to your verbal attacks against the other commenters, then I will respectfully withdraw from the discussion.

Here goes.


Comment #1:

“Let’s see you are pissed because violence is done to them, well so am I. But the law protects everyone and if there is violence, are you telling me that the police won’t act on it just because the victim is homosexual?”

My response: Yes. There are several reported cases of police not enforcing the law because the victims or complainants were not heterosexual. There are even cases where police take advantage of the situation and harrass the complainant or extort money from them. If you need further information. I will refer you to the right organizations but I cannot post cases here because of confidentiality issues. The bottom line is, to say that “the law protects everyone” is only good on paper but it is not implemented in reality.


Comment #2:

Are you telling me that you want legislation that will penalize bullying of homosexuals… but what not weaklings, handicapped, etc… the bullying of homosexuals is because of the perception that they are weak.”

My response: Yes, we want that kind of legislation. But just because we cite examples of discrimination against LGBT people most of the time, it doesn’t mean we do not acknowledge the existence of discrimination against other vulnerable sectors. It only means that we are able to expound on these examples because they are closer to our daily experience. In the same manner, people with disabilities (PWDs) normally cite discrimination against PWDs but it doesn’t mean they don’t recognize the existence of discrimination against others, like, say, indigenous peoples. SB2814 is a bill that will give us, and other vulnerable sectors, that kind of protection.

“Legarda Hails Passage on Third Reading of Anti-Discrimination Bill” –http://www.senate.gov.ph/press_release/2011/1122_legarda1.asp – accessed 2011-12-11


Comment #3:

“A comment above says he is pissed because he can’t hold hands in public without being looked at strangely, should we penalize staring behavior as well?”

My response: Please do not put words in my mouth. This is what I said:

“The truth is, the “Marxist mold” and the politics behind the LGBT movement are irrelevant to me when I can’t hold hands with my partner in public. To me, it is hardly political, it is personal.”

In the context of that paragraph, I did not say I was pissed, I did not say anything about being looked at strangely, and I did not demand penalizing staring behavior. All I did was illustrate my point that not everyone in the LGBT movement has a political agenda and not everything about LGBT activism is political. Sometimes, the discrimination we experience is very personal in nature and has little to do with the politics that Acosta was refering to in her presentation.

If you are referring to someone else’s comment, please post it here and I will gladly apologize for assuming I was the subject.


Comment #4:

“How can marriage be an absolute basic human right?”

My response: Because that’s what the Universal Declaration of Human Rights says and as a member of the United Nations, the Philippine government has the obligation to protect, respect, promote, and fulfill this right as many countries have already done:

“Article 1. – All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.

“Article 2. – Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status. Furthermore, no distinction shall be made on the basis of the political, jurisdictional or international status of the country or territory to which a person belongs, whether it be independent, trust, non-self-governing or under any other limitation of sovereignty.”

“Article 16. – (1) Men and women of full age, without any limitation due to race, nationality or religion, have the right to marry and to found a family. They are entitled to equal rights as to marriage, during marriage and at its dissolution.

(2) Marriage shall be entered into only with the free and full consent of the intending spouses.

(3) The family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society and is entitled to protection by society and the State.”

“The Universal Declaration of Human Rights” – http://www.un.org/en/documents/udhr/index.shtml – accessed 2011-12-11


Comment #5:

“Can minors marry? why not if it is an absolute right? can mentally handicapped people marry? can humans opt to marry their pets?”

My response: These are all false analogies. Please refer to Article 16 Section 2 (above). You cannot get “free and full consent of the intending spouses” if your intending spouse is a minor, a pet, or mentally handicapped.


Comment #6:

“Some “rights” are not absolute some are.”

My response: This is simply incorrect. Being absolute is not a characteristic of human rights. Human rights are “Universal, Inalienable, Interdependent, Indivisible, Equal and Non-discriminatory”

“What are human rights?” – http://www.ohchr.org/en/issues/Pages/WhatareHumanRights.aspx – accessed 2011-12-11


Comment #7:

“Tell me how the LGBT are sidelined politically? Has any LGBT been disallowed the right to suffrage or to run for public office, given a drivers license, cedula, taxed higher, refused enrollment in school or refuses police protection solely by their orientation?”

My response: Yes. Ladlad Party List was disallowed in 2009 to run for public office. They were eventually allowed to run when the Supreme Court ruled in their favor but the case is a clear example of discrimination in politics based on sexual orientation and gender identity. In fact, the Supreme Court blasted the Commission on Elections for using the Bible and Quran in its decision. Here are the first two paragraphs of the Supreme Court’s ruling:

“Our Constitution provides in Article III, Section 5 that “[n]o law shall be made respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” At bottom, what our nonestablishment clause calls for is “government neutrality in religious matters.”[24] Clearly, “governmental reliance on religious justification is inconsistent with this policy of neutrality.”[25]

We thus find that it was grave violation of the non-establishment clause for the COMELEC to utilize the Bible and the Koran to justify the exclusion of Ang Ladlad. Rather than relying on religious belief, the legitimacy of the Assailed Resolutions should depend, instead, on whether the COMELEC is able to advance some justification for its rulings beyond mere conformity to religious doctrine. Otherwise stated, government must act for secular purposes and in ways that have primarily secular effects.”

“G.R. No. 190582 – SC Decision on Ladlad vs Comelec” –http://icj.org/dwn/database/Ang%20Ladlad%20LGBT%20Party%20v.%20COMELEC.pdf – accessed 2011-12-11

People who live with partners of the same sex and raise a family are taxed higher because in the eyes of BIR, the tax status of both individuals is “single” and not “married with dependents.” But in reality, their expenses are comparable to expenses of heterosexual couples who enjoy tax benefits of being legally married.

We have documented cases of schools who conduct masculinity tests and reject students who fail this test. This discrimination also affects even heterosexuals who show signs of femininity.


Comment #8:

“I oppose this because its repercussions introduce a society where morality becomes relative to a persons preference and taste!”

My response: Morality has always been “relative to a persons preference and taste.” What is moral for a Christian might not be moral for a Muslim and vice versa. Thankfully, our government operates on the rules of law and not the rules of morality. As I’ve already mentioned above, the Supreme Court favored Ladlad Party List and struck down Comelec when it used morality as grounds to bar Ladlad party list from running for the 2010 elections.

Same-sex marriage is already legal in the following countries: Argentina, Belgium, Canada, Iceland, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, South Africa, and Sweden

Can you explain the “repercussions” of same-sex marriage in these countries?


Comment #9:

“I oppose certain moves in granting homosexuals sweeping “rights” which should be rightly reserved for heterosexuals like marriage or adoption.”

My response: There are no rights that are “rightly reserved for heterosexuals” as this is clear violation of Article 2 of the universal declaration of human rights.

“Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status”


Comment #10:

“it does not follow that just because someone is productive, they can also contribute to the growth of society in the sense of which i was referring to, i.e. propagate and raise children.”

My response: There are heterosexuals who are unable to propagate and there are heterosexuals who simply want to marry but do not plan on having children. Since they are unable to contribute to the growth of society in the sense that you are referring to, should they be disallowed to marry?


Comment #11:

“It falsely imparts to children that there is such a thing as a third sex when there isn’t.”

My Response: You are right. There is no third sex. There is a whole spectrum of diverse sexual orientations and gender identities. And that is what children need to learn and understand.


Comment #12:

“It is a pretentious union with pretentious results.”

My response: I take offense in this statement. There is nothing pretentious about the celebration of two people being in love and committing their lives to each other. There is nothing pretentious about a person being able to claim inheritance benefits of their spouse, being a beneficiary to health insurance, visitation rights, etc. These results are very real and contribute to the well-being of a person. Please do not trivialize them by calling them pretentious.


Comment #13:

“cisgendered” seriously there is a term? the terms cis and trans used to be a chemical prefix and the word gender used to refer to parts of speech.” I am so amused, we get a chemical prefix and combine it with a reference to a part of speech and we have a sex that is somewhere in between male/female and homosexual.WOW!”

My response: Again, I take offense in your tone. All kinds of terms come up regularly in order to define human experience. Words like insulares, peninsulares, flips, chinks, jejemons, hipsters, dorks, nerds, squatters, kasambahay, whether with negative or positive connotations, were all coined because of the psycho-social need of certain sectors to create a group they can associate with or have an available term to refer to a sector of society. I highly doubt that international law experts, civil society groups, humanitarians, and diplomats said “WOW!” and were as “amused” as you were when they used these terms in drafting the Yogyakarta Principles and the UN resolution on sexual orientation and gender identity.

Also, there is no “sex that is somewhere in between male/female and homosexual.” Both males and females can actually identify as homosexual, transgender, or cisgender. Once you understand the intricacies of these terms, you might be less amused and might find more respect for the people who self-identify with these terms. Here are a couple of sites that might help you understand the terms:

“Transgender, Genderqueer, Cisgender… What Do These Terms Mean?’ –http://kinseyconfidential.org/transgender-genderqueer-cisgender-terms/ – accessed 2011-12-11

“TRANS 101: CISGENDER” – http://www.basicrights.org/uncategorized/trans-101-cisgender/ – accessed 2011-12-11


So again, I hope you take the information seriously. If, as early as now, you’ve already made a decision that I will be unsuccessful in either or both of my two objectives, then feel free to ignore this.

Thank you for your time.

Ronald “Ron” de Vera (aka rondevera)


| Read more from the same writer here |

Image from andresflava

Posted in Politics, Religion, SocietyComments (199)

On Humans and Clothing

There have been a series of very interesting opinions expressed on the matter here at the FF website:

Why I Will Not Walk Like a Slut


Sluttier than Thou (Part 1)


Symmetry of opposites

The first thing to note – actually noted by my wife Delia, rational biologist extraordinaire – is that both authorsare allies in actively fighting for the rights and freedoms of all human beings.

And then there is a fantastic symmetry of opposites in Marguerite’s and Liz’s articles. I love symmetry and opposites are just another form of symmetry, so let’s see if I can explain it in words (rather than with an equation or a table):

  • Marguerite argues that people need to keep in mind how others will see them when choosing their clothes, and then fails to foresee how others will be distuberd vis-a-vis of her ideas.
  • Liz is vehement about expressing herself freely and in absolute – uncompromising – terms, while at the same time wishes for educated compassion from others when discussing sexual assault.


Conclusion one: both authors are on the same side and both end up doing with “words” the opposite of what they say should be done with “clothes”.


The lacking in humans’ clothes

Then, I think that none of the articles develops enough what I think is a crucial point about the animals wearing the clothes: those great apes we call humans.

Inside each human animal there is a rational being who performs and appreciates art, strives for democracy, uses the scientific method, and respects fellow humans regardless of their peculiarities. Most of these are recently acquired notions, the oldest – art? – being a few tens of thousands years old.

And then there is an instinctive being, driven by the reptilian part of the brain, acting without further, or even much, consideration. It pays no heed to the words, but to the way they are spoken or the stance of that uttering them. It makes decisions in a split second without further thought. Instinct is a reliable tool, honed by millions of years of evolution.

I am not going to say that one is better than the other. In fact, much to the contrary. Both serve humans very faithfully and reliably. When they do so in agreement, we’re in luck. But it is not uncommon that they give contradicting opinions regarding the same situation.

I think that that is the case regarding attire. So let’s remove the clothes off of this, so to speak.

Is it just clothes they're selling?

Wearing clothes is a human invention. Most of the time it hinders me: ingrown hairs, sweaty discomfort, you name it; I am sure everyone, at one time or the other has wished they could just drop part or all of their clothes, especially in tropical environments. But as many human inventions, clothing also serves a very clear purpose, especially for those who ventured to inhabit the colder habitats in this planet. For those people removing clothes is folly, as – without shelter – damage to the body ensues quickly.


Another aspect of clothing is bedizening (yes, I scoured the dictionary for that one). Since long that the more you wear, the shinier you wear, and the more unique you wear, the more important you purport to be. The traditional example is jewelry, but it applies broadly to material goods, from iGadgets, to motor-vehicles, to dwellings, and including clothes. What humans wear is part of what they own, which is part of how they show – and gauge! – their social status in human society.

Finally, and more to the slutty point, clothing covers the most often sexualized body parts. Swollen penises or erect nipples can be tell-tale signs of – not necessarily conscious – interest in engaging in sexual activity. Clothing keeps those reptilian reactions or conscious thoughts tucked away from the view of others. Most of the time, anyway. But then, it is not a surprise that sex-workers that roam the streets entice clients into engaging their services by exposing as much as they can their sex-related body parts. Or that push-up bras for lasses, and bum enhancers for lads, are a hit.

So, clothing is an expression of an individual’s intelectual, artistic or social freedom. It protects you from the cold, the wind and the sun. But clothing is also a means to get attention given its role in keeping sexualized body parts out of sight.

And herein lies the problem as I see it: it is not only that clothes have multiple roles for those wearing them, they can also be perceived in a plethora of ways by whoever sees what the wearer allows them to see. And it is not just clothes: it’s body language, intonation, scent, you name it (because I don’t know more). So you end up with many combinations of wearer intent and viewer interpretation. When the wearer is not being sexual, but the viewer interprets it that way, violation of the wearer’s rights can ensue.

Horny rabbit wanting to get laid or scared duck running away?

This is not an excuse for the viewer not to think about how they act on what they perceive. Rape is rape; as soon as one party says it is over it should be over there and then. Period.

Think “job interview” for a moment. This does not even need concern your attire for the interview (although every advice out there mentions clothing, right?).

The fulcrum is that as long as you do not show that you are what the hiring party thinks or feels that they need, you’re screwed. What they think or feel that they need. Not what they need or who you are. It does not matter who you are or if you are what they need. They must be convinced that you are what they think they need. I know it is over-elaborate, but it is to the point: your identity is also what other animals perceive of it (as long as you share your habitat with them). Generalization: those need not even be just humans animals; for any animal you share your enviroment with, you are what they perceive.

So, I am not an expert in human animals (my trade is fundamental particles,) but one thing never ceases to fascinate me: that all of this thinking happens inside the same human brains. Gotta love those human brains! (Both the rational and reptilian bits.)


Conclusion two: things are not just what we make them look like, but also what others want or can see in us.

Posted in Personal, Politics, SocietyComments (2)

Hey, Look! There’s a Big, Disgusting Bias on My Dick! (Part 1)

Disclaimer: I am writing not as a representative of the Filipino Freethinkers but as an individual with an opinion. My views are my own and should, in no way, be viewed as an indication of what beliefs or values members of our organization hold. Throughout this article, I might use hetero-centric language in that, more often than not, when I refer to “men,” I’m actually referring to heterosexual men. Though I am aware of its importance, I decided, for the sake of brevity to omit the heterosexual part in the assumption that through this disclaimer I have clarified the context of the erasure.

“Shut-up and Man-up!”
According to the American Heritage Dictionary, a double standard is a “set of principles establishing different provisions for one group than another; also, specifically, allowing men more sexual freedom than women.”

According to Dictionary.com, a double standard is “any code or set of principles containing different provisions for one group of people than for another, especially an unwritten code of sexual behavior permitting men more freedom than women.”

In many instances the word double standard is commonly defined and commonly accepted as a belief or view that discriminates against women and provides men with unfair advantages and privileges. The most common example of this is the Stud/Slut double standard that goes something like, “If a man sleeps around, he’s a stud. If a woman sleeps around, she’s a slut?”

It is implied, even in most dictionaries, that when double standards occur, women are on the losing end of it. We always hear about female side about their problems with the double standard because women were actually smart enough to come up with a movement, feminism, that dealt with issues like this and that fought for policies that could educate and assist women in dealing with these matters.

Straight men didn’t bother (I’m making that distinction because gay men have the gay rights movement available to them), partly because they were expected, pardon the sexist idiom, to “shut-up and man-up.” Majority of straight men do not have a proper venue for productive discourse with regard to men’s issues because, in the dominant paradigm of gender politics, straight men are considered to be the privileged oppressors in patriarchal cultures and are, therefore, in no position to voice out grievances, especially grievances about the opposite sex. However, this postulation of dominance by males does not exempt them from bias, harmful double standards and oppression.

“I Want to Make Boys Feel Bad Because It’s Fun.”
The illustrations I used for this article are T-Shirt prints marketed and sold by David & Goliath Inc. Radio host Glenn Sacks started a campaign calling for the boycott of what is perceived by many as the widespread marketing of misandry, disguised and often justified as female empowerment.

In fairness to Goldman, he made no mention of how his products were meant to be sold under the pretense of empowerment. In fact, in a news article by from National Post, Goldman explicitly denies that his T-shirts have anything to do with the girl-power movement. “I’m a guy. I couldn’t give a rat’s ass about girl empowerment. Our market is teenage girls. I know what sells.”

He’s right. I haven’t found a single feminist movement that officially promotes these shirts as “empowering.” And, in my opinion, although these products reinforce false masculine archetypes that suggest that men are stupid liars, Goldman has a right to express his opinion and to take advantage of a trend to make a profit.

However,  the fact that these products sell to such a degree, the fact that shirts printed with these slogans have mainstream acceptance, in my opinion, points towards a cultural trend of tolerance for violence towards men, especially, once we consider the target market for this merchandise – quoting Goldman, “Our market is teenage girls.”

Let’s Go, Girls! It’s Beat Up Your Boyfriend Night!
Joan Arehart-Treichel wrote an article, “Men Shouldn’t Be Overlooked as Victims of Partner Violence”, to address the issue of violence towards men and to present surprising statistics about the nature of partner violence.

In that article she writes:

“Regarding perpetration of violence, more women than men (25 percent versus 11 percent) were responsible. In fact, 71 percent of the instigators in nonreciprocal partner violence were women.”

Nonreciprocal violence, by the way, is when a woman hits a man and the man doesn’t hit back. When he does hit back, it’s called reciprocal violence a.k.a. criminal violence; a violation of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) in the States and a violation of Republic Act. 9262 Anti-violence Against Women and Their Children act of 2004 in the Philippines.

Some people would argue that violence by women can’t be as serious as violence by men because women are, most of the time, physically smaller and weaker than the men they fight with. Unfortunately, research proves that women also have a tendency to compensate for their smaller size through their greater use of weapons and the element of surprise, and that only a small percentage of female domestic violence is committed in self-defense.

An annotated bibliography of around 300 “References Examining Assaults by Women on their Spouses or Male Partners” compiled by Martin S. Feibert points to the same conclusion  – within heterosexual intimate partnerships, women have a higher propensity for violence than men:

Doroszewicz, K., & Forbes, G. B. (2008).  Experiences with dating aggression and sexual coercion among Polish college students.  Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 23, 58-73.  (The CTS-2 was used to study dating aggression in a sample <men=100, women=100> of unmarried Polish college students.  Results reveal that women were overall significantly more aggressive than men <48% vs 35.6%>).

Straus, M. A. (2008).  Dominance and symmetry in partner violence by male and female university students in 32 nations.  Children and Youth Services Review, 30, 252-275.  (A convenience sample of 13,601 students <71.5% women, 28.5% men> at 68 universities in 32 countries completed the CTS2.  Findings reveal that almost a third of students assaulted their dating partners in a 12 month period.  In terms of initiation, mutual aggression accounted for 68.6% of physical violence, while women initiated violence 21.4% of the time and men initiated violence 9.9% of the time.)

Leung, P. & Cheung, M.  (2008).  A prevalence study on partner abuse in six Asian American ethnic groups in the USA.  International Social Work, 51, 635-649.  (A large sample of Asian Americans were surveyed with the original CTS in the greater Houston area of Texas.  Sample consisted of 1577 respondents: 610 Chinese, 517 Vietnamese, 154 Indians, 123 Koreans, 101 Filipinos and 72 Japanese.  In terms of partner abuse high rates were reported for Vietnamese (22.4%) and Filipinos (21.8%)and low rates for Japanese and Chinese (9.7%).  Overall women were more abusive than men (17.6% vs 15.3%).

If, according to science, women are more violent than men in their domestic relationships, how come our laws on domestic violence protect only women?

My idea of gender equality is legal equality. Anything beyond that is, in my opinion, gender biased. Violence should be criminalized regardless of who’s doing it. Apart from criminalizing male violence on females, you know what else I think could help reduce domestic violence?

Criminalizing female violence on males.

Unfortunately, misandry is not only tolerated in contemporary culture, sometimes it is even encouraged. Some radical feminist groups not only condone misandry and violence against men, they advocate it and laugh about it.

A popular feminist blog, Jezebel.com, published an article entitled, “Have You Ever Beat Up A Boyfriend, Uh, We Have.” Guess what it’s about! Right! How fun it is to hit boys who don’t hit back. Ironically, this article was what led me to the statistics on partner violence. Joan Arehart-Treichel’s article, “Men Shouldn’t Be Overlooked as Victims of Partner Violence,” was cited as a source.

Tracie Egan Morrisey writes (bold emphasis, mine):

“According to a study of relationships that engage in nonreciprocal violence, a whopping 70% are perpetrated by women. So basically that means that girls are beating up their BFs and husbands and the dudes aren’t fighting back. With Amy Winehouse busting open a can of whupass on her husband last week, we decided to conduct an informal survey of the Jezebels to see who’s gotten violent with their men. After reviewing the answers, let’s just say that it’d be wise to never ever fuck with us.

“One Jezebel got into it with a dude while they were breaking up, while another Jez went nuts on her guy and began violently shoving him. One of your editors heard her boyfriend flirting on the phone with another girl, so she slapped the phone out of his hands and hit him in the face and neck… “partially open handed.” Another editor slapped a guy when “he told me he thought he had breast cancer.”(Okay, that one made us laugh really hard.) And lastly, one Jez punched a steady in the face and broke his glasses. He had discovered a sex story she was writing about another dude on her laptop, so he picked it up and threw it. And that’s when she socked him. He was, uh, totally asking for it.”

Articles such as this one encourage women to beat up their boyfriends, postulating this behavior, violence against men, as a humorous, laughable norm and going as far as to cite a popular celebrity, Amy Winehouse as an “endorser” for nonreciprocal violence.

“On a Scale of 1 to 10, How Funny is a Mutilated Vagina?”
It is precisely because of this rising trend of misandry that a group of men have decided to fight back and make fun of violence perpetrated on a female, particularly a woman whose vagina was mutilated.

On July of 2011 an Orange County man drugged his wife, tied her up while she was unconscious, waited for her to wake up, then sliced pieces off her vagina and destroyed the severed organs by throwing them in a garbage disposal. Hosts from the show laughed at the idea of little vagina bits bouncing around in the garbage disposal. The all-male audience laughed with them!

I’m just kidding. That didn’t really happen. That will never happen. No man would dare laugh about violence done to a woman on television because such a display of barbarity would end his career and maybe even his life. If a group of men publicly laughs at the idea of torturing women via vaginal mutilation, the public would call for their heads. People would claim that these men deserved to die, or at the very least, they would clamor that all the men involved in the incident lose their jobs. These men might even be attacked by random strangers who would feel justified in beating the shit out of these assholes out of principle. There might be rallies, demonstrations and women’s rights activists all over television.

“On a Scale of 1 to 10, How Funny is a Mutilated Penis?”

But what if was the other way around? What if a bunch of women laughed about a man’s mutilated penis on television? I’m not kidding about that one. That really happened and will be discussed further in part 2.


(to be continued…)


All pictures taken from:


Posted in Personal, Politics, SocietyComments (5)

Sluttier than Thou (Part 2)

Read part 1 of “Sluttier than Thou”

“Aimed at those who were sexually promiscuous, be it for work or pleasure, it has primarily been women who have suffered under the burden of this label. We are tired of being oppressed by slut-shaming; of being judged by our sexuality….”

SlutWalk Manifesto

Mythbusting Sluts

The SlutWalk is not about daring men not to feel sexually attracted to women whose fashion sense can induce sexual desire. One of the points of the movement is to dare a patriarchal society to create an environment that accommodates and respects women’s desire to look however they want in spite of other people’s sexual desire.

Photo Credit: asteroidz (deviantART)

Furthermore, the SlutWalk wants to call out the use of “slut,” not merely for describing women in “revealing” clothing, but for implying an insensitive assumption that if a girl was sexually victimized, it must’ve been because she dressed like so.

To reiterate the argument, the appalling logic behind “risk management” by clothing perpetuates the myth that women experience sexual violence because they’ve managed to provoke — deliberately or otherwise — uncontrollable sexual desire for them in their sexual predators.

Although the SlutWalk was not about rape per se, I want to take this opportunity to identify instances of rape that remotely concern the sexual appeal victims exude.

  • Rape in rigidly hierarchical systems and cultures: military rape, prison rape, and clerical rape
  • Corrective rape: against LGBT to cure their supposed “gender disorder”
  • War rape a.k.a. “spoils of war” as in the case of comfort women during the World War II
  • Genocidal rape: sexuality as a symbol of reproductive potential and continuity of an ethnic community

A slut by any other name would still be as slutty.

Germain Greer, in her article on the SlutWalk, gave her readers a fascinating history of the word:

Historically, the primary attribute of a slut is not promiscuity but dirt. The word denotes a ‘woman of dirty, slovenly, or untidy habits or appearance; a foul slattern.’ A now obsolete meaning connects it with a kitchen maid, whose life was lived in soot and grease. […] The corner she left unswept was the slut corner; the fluff that collected under the furniture was a slut ball.”

Greer isn’t sure how dirty eventually became associated with promiscuity, but the relation between the two can be found in various expressions. “Dirty mind” suggests promiscuous thinking, while “dirty jokes” describe promiscuous jokes.

Perhaps it began with a similar relation — the link between cleanliness and virginity. (Well, not so much “clean” as “immaculate,” which came from a Latin word meaning “not stained” or “spotless.”)

Anthropologists using a functionalist perspective to explain the value of virginity would point that some cultures — most probably, the patriarchal ones — might value a woman’s virginity because her sexual inexperience assures her future husband that the child in her womb doesn’t belong to any other man.

Patriarchal cultures usually don’t allow the woman to be stained by any one else but her husband, and marriage is the ritual that sanctions the staining of the woman. I’d also think that virginity is a much more important issue in women than men, since the failure of men to remain chaste doesn’t carry the risk of bearing a child, a burden to the resources of a group of individuals.

Western history, which had a long struggle with Judeo-Christian sexual repression, valued virginity in the same way. As I was looking up the definition of “immaculate” in the Oxford Dictionary — a term used to describe the conception of Jesus Christ by Mary — late Middle English actually used the term in the sense of “free from moral stain.”

It turns out, not only are slut shamers conforming to patriarchal logic, they’re also conforming to Judeo-Christian conservatism.

The Scarlet Letter

This is why the word “slut” needs to be reclaimed: it needs to be reclaimed from originators of its derogatory connotation.

Promiscuity need not be interpreted as a negative behavior.

Greer said it best:

“If women are to overthrow the tyranny of perpetual cleansing, we have to be able to say: ‘Yes, I am a slut. […] I could be without sexual fantasies… – pure as the untrodden snow – but I’m not. I’m a slut and proud.’ The rejection by women of compulsory cleansing of mind, body, and soul is a necessary pre-condition of liberation.”

Reclaiming a word with heavy historical baggage will be a long and arduous struggle. But we have to start somewhere.

1. Diluting derogatory effect. Reclamation of a word begins with overuse. The principle is simple enough: have many people use it and have these people use it to describe the same things but of lesser degree — in fact, use it as casually as possible. Eventually, speakers will adapt to using the word for these lesser purposes.

People may not agree with me, but I think the overuse of the word “bitch” has managed to dilute its derogatory effect. Being called a bitch in the nineties is not the same as being called a “bitch” in 2010s, especially when you have people who greet their friends with, “What’s up, bitches?”

Pioneering a word’s dilution requires a steadfast spirit of resistance and a conviction in the ethics of reclaiming it. It is a purposeful exercise in political incorrectness. You must be willing to take the risk of offending people.

Conversely, cultural (and even legal) restrictions to the use of a word regulates who gets to say it and how it is applied, thus preserving not only the definition of the word but the weight it bears as a derogatory, sacrosanct, or heinous term.

When it comes to the word “slut,” do we want to preserve the patriarchal (and even religious) intent to offend women who are promiscuous?

Well, I don’t.

God forbid, an LGBT slut. (Photo Credit: CEJoly on deviantART)

2. Reconditioning (female) response from shame to pride. Overusing the word “slut” will be useless if women don’t develop the courage to embrace the possibility that promiscuity can be empowering. No word is objectively offensive, and any word can be tailored to offend as any speaker can desire.

The objective to offend will fall flat on its face if the one being addressed is not insulted. I’m a slut, and I’m loving it.

It won’t always be the case that being called a slut won’t hurt. People are missing the point if they treat the issue of reconditioning responses as a goal rather than as sustained practice. Treat each situation as a challenge to respond with pride instead of shame. If you can summon pride most of the time, you’ve personally reclaimed “slut” from your offenders. If most women have managed the same transformation, they have, as political subjects, reclaimed “slut” from male chauvinists, misogynists, and sexists.

Ultimately, if the larger cultural community has managed the same transformation, its culture bearers have, as historical subjects, reclaimed “slut” from their patriarchal traditions of thought and language.

To reclaim or not to reclaim? The freedom to use and reclaim symbols should be exercised with caution and discernment. I don’t want to put out rules on when to reclaim or not, because there will always be exceptions to these rules. Instead, I want to cite examples and give my opinions on why I think certain strategies are ethically valuable or not.

“Nigger” is arguably stuck in a phase of reclamation where it’s typically okay for African-Americans to address themselves and each other colloquially as that, but it’s ethically revulsive for everyone else to address members of the cultural group as so. I can’t say whether it will come to a point where African-Americans will spurn its use for anyone and everyone or whether even out-groups will be in a comfortable cultural condition to use it.

This is one of those words where I believe it’s better that nobody — and I mean, nobody — should be comfortable about using it, because I cannot possibly conceive of a positive reinterpretation of slavery, a human relation historically associated with the word “nigger.” It’s just wrong, and nobody should ever be treated as one.

A problem I see with the in-group/out-group dichotomy the word creates is its inability to engage all political and cultural stakeholders in addressing a deeply violent history of oppression.

Although it’s not a word, the swastika benefits from the current restrictions placed on how it’s used. There is no positive reinterpretation of ethnic cleansing. The word “Nazi,” on the other hand, has lost its general ability to incite “moral horror” because so many people compare every single thing to being a “Nazi.” (Read: feminazi) It’s a tired metaphor, but maybe it shouldn’t be.

For something culturally relatable, I finally want to talk about “overseas Filipino worker” (OFW). I think this is a label that Filipinos should rid from their vocabulary altogether, so they can replace it with expatriate. OFW is a modification of the term “overseas contract worker,” which carried notions of contractual/temporary workers engaged in unskilled or manual labor, and it is a half-hearted attempt to lessen the discrimination Filipino expatriates experience whether they are at home or abroad.

I cringe at the term OFW also because of the tendency of politicians to valorize “OFWs” and thus legitimize their martyrdom. I don’t want people to suffer for the economic progress of the “motherland,” especially when it’s run by pricks like the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration. Why can’t people just earn a living without having to give up their human rights or have we forgotten this as a viable option? Expatriate, however, is “politically neutral” when it comes to the relationship between being a working migrant and a hero for the country. The sooner the national government realizes that they are not heroes but individuals needing protection from discrimination, exploitation, and state violence, the sooner they might realize that local employment opportunities need to be improved, especially outside Metro Manila.

Grassroots Slut

The most reasonable argument I’ve heard against reclaiming “slut” is the one put forward by Gail Dines and Wendy J. Murphy:

“The term slut is so deeply rooted in the patriarchal “madonna/whore” view of women’s sexuality that it is beyond redemption. […] Women need to find ways to create their own authentic sexuality, outside of male-defined terms like slut.”

I like their article because it is the only criticism I’ve read which is conscious of mainstream media or pop culture’s hypersexualization of women:

“These students have grown up in a culture in which hypersexualized images of young women are commonplace and where hardcore porn is the major form of sex education for young men.”

Supporting the SlutWalk shouldn’t mean that we’re forcing women to be promiscuous or to express openly their sexual identities. We’re saying instead that if they wanted to have those rights, we’d be there to fight for an environment that accommodates these desires. No judgments.

But in the age of global capitalism, patriarchal logic, as reworked by media and pop culture, has insidiously found its way back into the minds and hearts of unwitting women who’ve grown weary of feminist struggles for equality.

In an age where people are made to think that the right to consume is a fundamental human right, women are made to think that if they have the right to buy whatever they want to look however they want, they’re free and equal to men.

I admit. Women now consume more images of hypersexualized and hyperfeminine women, and the overwhelming exposure of these images to the exclusion of, well, other types and subjectivities of women promotes a narrow sense of femininity and womanhood to people, especially children*.

Think of the children.

The trouble with contemporary culture is that more women are exposing their bodies precisely because they want to be sexualized by men. Women want to be dirty, because it pleases men to become so. And if they want it, there’s nothing wrong with it. It’s girl power. It’s Girls Gone Wild. In this way, being a “slut” ends up reproducing the patriarchal logic we set out to diminish.

But the great thing about the SlutWalk is the fact that it’s a grassroots gender and sexual movement. Unlike mainstream media which tends to privilege only particular types of women to put on a “slut” identity, the SlutWalk opened the opportunity to women to put on a “slut” identity no matter how they looked**.

Finally, the desire to expose the body is not about patronizing patriarchal logic; it’s to ridicule it. It’s to shame those who gaze with misogynistic eyes at women who expose their bodies. It’s to cause discomfort in those who might unconsciously still cling to patriarchal myths about women’s desires and sexuality.

The feminist struggle is fought on many fronts. As women struggle against cultures that force them to dress up, they struggle against cultures that force them to undress. Because of this, I cannot hold one movement responsible for resolving all the problems women face.

“Well-behaved women seldom make history.” —Laurel Thatcher Ulrich


Image of “I ♥ Sluts” from Wikipedia

*, ** (From “Report of the APA Task Force on the Sexualization of Girls“) – “Healthy sexuality is an important component of both physical and mental health, fosters intimacy, bonding, and shared pleasure, and involves mutual respect between consenting partners (Satcher, 2001; Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States [SIECUS], 2004). In contrast, sexualization occurs when:

  • a person’s value comes only from his or her sexual appeal or behavior, to the exclusion of other characteristics
  • a person is held to a standard that equates physical attractiveness (narrowly defined) with being sexy
  • a person is sexually objectified—that is, made into a thing for others’ sexual use, rather than seen as a person with the capacity for independent action and decision making; and/or
  • sexuality is inappropriately imposed upon a person.
We propose that the sexualization of girls occurs within three interrelated spheres:
  • The contribution by society—that is, the cultural1 norms, expectations, and values that are communicated in myriad ways, including through the media. A culture can be infused with sexualized representations of girls and women, suggesting that such sexualization is good and normal.
  • An interpersonal contribution—Girls can be treated as, and encouraged to be, sexual objects by family, peers, and others.
  • Self-sexualization—Girls may treat and experience themselves as sexual objects (Fredrickson & Roberts, 1997; McKinley & Hyde, 1996). If girls learn that sexualized behavior and appearance are approved of and rewarded by society and by the people (e.g., peers) whose opinions matter most to them, they are likely to internalize these standards, thus engaging in self-sexualization. 

For individual women, findings across several studies indicate associations between exposure to female beauty ideals and disordered eating attitudes and symptoms, such that greater exposure to thin-ideal media has been associated with higher levels of dieting, exercising, and disordered eating symptomatology (e.g., Abramson & Valene, 1991; Harrison, 2000; Hofschire & Greenberg, 2001; Stice, Schupak-Neuberg, Shaw, & Stein, 1994;Thomsen,Weber, & Brown, 2002).

Indeed, a recent meta-analysis testing links between media exposure and women’s behavior and beliefs related to eating reported a small (d = .29) but statistically reliable effect of media exposure across 8 experimental and 12 correlational studies (Grabe,Ward, & Hyde, 2008).


Liz studied anthropology, international relations, philosophy, and French. She quit graduate school (for now) to pursue journalism. She still maintains that she isn’t a feminist, but watch out for more posts on gender issues in the coming weeks.

Posted in SocietyComments (11)

Sluttier than Thou (Part 1)

Read part 2 of “Sluttier than Thou”

“Women should avoid dressing like sluts in order not to be victimized.”

— Constable Michael Sanguinetti (Toronto Police Officer), 24 January 2011

Fuck me

I don’t count myself a feminist, but I felt a strange flurry of indignation, bewilderment, and despair some might accord to a feminist sensibility as I processed my response to certain reasons and logic used to justify (1) the “practicality” of the above quotation as if it does not imply the prevalence of a problematic patriarchal vocabulary and (2) condemnations of the slut walks as if their participants use the term “slut” merely for shock value.

To some, that makes me a silly feminist. To me, that simply makes me someone who’s fighting for a free world where sluts, prudes, and everyone in between and beyond, can live in harmony.

I have never been sexually assaulted, although I’ve loved, known, and met women who have survived such incidents. I am writing this because I wish people would handle this topic not only with critical reflection but with educated compassion.

Along came a slut scantily clad woman.

Language matters. Culture matters.

There is a problem with the fact that the Canadian police officer used the term “slut” to describe revealing clothing instead of calling a spade a spade. You’re probably thinking that’s nitpicking compared to the larger issue of “he shouldn’t be blaming the victim in the first place.” I agree.

But the fact that he used a derogatory identifier and equated it with a fashion sense that was never even universally associated with promiscuous women implies that those who do not cover themselves enough are typically or should be judged negatively.

I’m not denying that “sluts” have dressed to provoke sexualization. Those assuming that defenders of slut walks are unaware of this end up emphasising a point that no one even contests. And in pressing that point, the ethical and political implications of language fly over their heads.

Did you know majority of expatriate Filipinos – to be accurate, undocumented female migrants – are unskilled laborers? They typically end up as domestic workers, too.

The banality of that link led Greek linguists to define Filipina as “domestic worker” in a dictionary. (Note: It was not the Oxford Dictionary.)

Not only Filipinos, but anyone with half a brain, thought that was sloppy, appalling research for an educational tool and non-fiction reference. It’s not true that all Filipinas are domestic workers and all domestic workers are Filipinas. If you dig deeper, you can’t help but think that it ends up implying that all Filipinas are unskilled laborers — unskilled. While there is dignity to hard, manual labor, the association can become offensive because it makes invisible the chance that there might be skilled, professional migrant Filipinas.

Ethically, there is a problem when you use inaccurate language, which is the problem of “dress like sluts” and “Filipineza. Noun. […] 2. A domestic worker.”

Politically, there is an issue of power, because you have to ask, “Who defines Filipina?” and “Who passes judgment on scantily clad women as the promiscuous type who looks like she will enjoy, not scorn, sexual advances that are not explicity solicited?”

On another note, disregarding the culture (read: context) in which the statement was made leads one to create double standards.

Suddenly, it’s practical to believe that women who pair tight semi-sheer tank tops that follow even the shape of their nipples with pekpek shorts are inviting to be sexually victimized. But that’s because it happened in Canada.

Transplant that statement, “[W]omen should avoid dressing like sluts in order not to be victimized,” to Taliban Afghanistan circa 1990s. A police officer would probably be referring to a girl whose burqa is one inch too short to cover her ankles. In relatively more moderate Muslim cultures, a police officer would probably be referring to a girl dawning the glory of her sensuously wavy locks instead of wrapping it in a scarf.

Then, play a little with the statement to produce, “Women should avoid looking like sluts in order not to be victimized,” and transplant that to Cameroon.

Cameroon is where mothers, grandmothers, or older sisters subject their pubescent (grand)daughters or younger sisters to breast ironing to stunt the growth of their breasts because of this prevailing belief that buxom women invite rape.

How slutty is slutty?

I invite people from all walks of life to answer that question.

Personally, I notice that plunging necklines don’t look “slutty” on me because I’m flat chested. (And I wonder if anyone from the Freethinkers think Tin dresses like a slut.)

I also wonder whether Muslim women who get raped for not wearing the veil as prescribed by their communities made the men in their neighborhoods uncontrollably horny or whether they raped them to prove the point that “‘sluts’ invite rape” – in other words, to regulate and enforce cultural norms on gendered prudence through sexual violence (i.e., “to put ‘sluts’ in their place”).

“Dress like a slut” assumes that always and in all cases, the purpose of dressing in such a way that many people in your culture might perceive as incomplete is to effect sexual desire, or, worse, to communicate sexual availability – like a bulging red baboon butt.

I wear sleeveless and shorts when it’s 30 degrees outside so men can ogle me? I’d like to trim my burqa not because I want to avoid tripping over it but because I want to distract men with my pasty ankles?

If I dress like this…

…it’s only possible that I’m dressing for myself.

But if I dress like this…

…I must be dressing up for men (and men alone).

That infintely insults me.

Women, when they dress up fabulously or to feel good about themselves, regardless of the level of “sluttiness” that ensemble entails, cannot possibly conceive of doing it for themselves. Again, this is where people miss the point by pressing the fact that “[there are] women [who] sometimes do it to get noticed or to be desired.” Nobody contests that.

To harp on that possibility to the exclusion of a woman’s autonomy is classic patriarchal logic. Worst of all, to harp on that possibility to the exclusion of non-sexual or gender-unrelated desires to bare flesh screams “maniac” and “perv.”

Why can’t skin and curves be sensual instead of sexual? Why can’t skin and curves be seen through non-sexual and non-gendered lenses? I would like to think that we are more than just our sexual and gender identities.

The Myth of the Rapist-magnet

The most horrific reasoning, by far, is how victimized women in skimpy outfits share the blame with their sexual predators for the sexual assault. I thought that reasoning died ages ago considering “we’re in a post-feminist era.” (read: sarcasm)

Research has shown that more reliable predictors of sexual harassment and rape victimization are the following: FIRST, indicators of vulnerability such as age (i.e., children and the elderly), a timid disposition, and a timid appearance (e.g., hair length) and SECOND, position of authority (e.g., subordination).

Interestingly, “slut dressing” might be an indicator of being in control and of dominance. I’m inclined to believe that because it takes guts and, perhaps, a sense of individuality to defy social norms, even those that govern something as seemingly inconsequential as clothing.

But since we’ve agreed that it’s possible (though not always the case) for a woman to be sexually assaulted because of appearance (not necessarily as an enactment of sexual desire), do we jump the gun by prescribing to women to dress “prudently” – whatever that means – to control the “risk” of attracting sexual predators?

Sexual Risk-Aversion Clothing

“Dress up if you know what’s good for you.” It’s a practical solution, perhaps, but it flies in the face of research. This is not fair. You can prescribe to a woman what to wear and claim it has neither deliberate nor inadvertent patriarchal pretensions despite it being a poor predictor of rape and sexual harassment?

By that logic, a rational person should consistently tell a woman to do the following to avoid sexual victimization altogether: “Cut you hair.” “Don’t act timid.” “Don’t be a secretary.” “Don’t be a student.” “Don’t be young.” “Don’t grow too old. Once you reach 50, it’s best that you die.” These pieces of advice respond better to reliable predictors of rape.

In a twisted sense of analogy, dressing up prudently is compared to the following scenarios: (1) Being robbed after you “leave your front door unlocked.” “You turned yourself into an easier target because of your actions – and you have to take the rap for that.” (2) Shutting up and not exercising your freedom of speech for fear of libel or, if you will be offending people who might physically injure you, for fear of death.

I hope we all agree in principle that be it rape, theft, or death, nobody deserves these things on the mere basis of –insert rape predictor of choice–, leaving the front door unlocked, and speaking out.

But being compelled (by someone or by circumstance) to bolt the front door is ethically unproblematic because the advice does not trample on a fundamental human right and the advice does not discriminate selectively on the rights of homeowners regardless of their age, gender, ethnicity, or income bracket. Old or young; LGBT, QIA, hetero-male or hetero-female; rich or poor, you all have to lock your front doors.

On the other hand, advising someone to dress up prudently, not promiscuously, to avoid sexual assault only makes sense to women? If a man dressed up “promiscuously” would he court sexual assault? It’s a questionable double standard because it implies that circumstances are created in such a way that men are allowed more flexibility in expressing themselves compared to women. This human condition should compel people to be calling for equality in expressive flexibilities and access to a safe environment instead.

Withholding the freedom of speech, however, is a trickier situation. I would encourage people to speak out in spite of the risks if they lived in a totalitarian regime, since a sovereign ruler is only as strong as its constituents. A ruler without constituents is not a ruler, and that is the fundamental idea of resistance: to imply that nobody wants to be subject of this despot’s exercise of power.

In some cases, perhaps, it might be better to shut up than die, although I would rather people constantly reevaluate the weight of their criticisms, convictions, intellect, and hope against the weight of bare biological life. Is it better to die on your feet than to live on your knees?

But if you really want sensible advice on how not to be physically compromised or violated, here are my pieces of advice for you: (1) Don’t accept drinks from strangers. (2) If you plan to get drunk or stoned, make sure you have a responsible and trustworthy friend who is willing to stay sober and take care of you until you get home and get tucked under your bed. (3) Learn self-defense.

Old or young; LGBT, QIA, hetero-male or hetero-female; rich or poor – anyone would do well to avoid accepting drinks from strangers, have a responsible, trustworthy, and sober friend, and learn self-defense.

But in an effort to save that argument for “dressing prudently” I hear this:

“It’s just clothing. It’s just costume. Identities can be changed. It’s superficial.”

Honestly, fashion is a tricky subject, because it brings along with it issues of consumerism and capitalism. Controlling for those issues, however, reveals how shortsighted the quoted rebuttal is.

I will admit that outward physical appearances invite discrimination.

Being black. Being Asian. Being Middle Eastern. Being Latino.

Those things, you cannot change. These are not costumes, but these are identities.

Being transgendered. Being butch.

Costume, you can change. But these are identities.

Walk, walk, fashion baby, work it, move that bitch crazy.

A “biologically destined male” dressing up as female invites a full menu of physical assault and psychological bullying. And this has been the reasoning of companies when they refuse to hire or promote anyone LGBT. The management puts up a pretense of concern, which, to them, legitimizes restricting the employment opportunities of gender nonconformists.

Miss Sass Rogando Sasot had a scathing rebuttal for this human resource practice. Limiting the opportunities of LGBT effectively holds them responsible for the discrimination they are facing. But the problem is discrimination, not their identities. You should be fixing the problem, not their identities, because there is nothing wrong with who they are.

MAYBE… it’s equally practical to advise trannies to dress like men from nine to five, Monday to Friday whenever they go to the office.

Frank also had a brilliant rebuttal to this: The HR department is already doing to the individual the act (discrimination) that they’ve been warning her/him about.

Yes, I’m also a silly LGBT ally.

You know what’s silly? Not feminism. It’s silly to think that there is even truth to “you won’t get raped in some places… if you do or don’t dress like a ‘slut.’”

Date rape. A girl likes a guy, but she’s not ready to put out yet. Nevertheless, she’s interested in him and she’d like him to think that she’s beautiful and attractive on top of interesting and smart. Wearing a little black dress with stiletto heels does not mean she is ready to be taken home.

I’ve even heard of this classist claim that you wouldn’t get sexually assaulted if you’re skimpily dressed in a high-end bar, but you would get sexually assaulted in a ghetto.

But the truth is, you can be sexually assaulted anywhere no matter what you’re wearing, regardless of whom you’re with. (Hell, even your husband can rape you.) It’s not your fault you ended up in the same place as that asshole. It’s not your fault that asshole touched you even if you told him to stop. It’s not your fault you attracted that asshole because you’re beautiful and sexy and that you enjoy being beautiful and sexy so that makes you even sexier.

No. It’s not your fault he’s an asshole.

It’s his fault he’s an asshole.

Stay tuned for “Sluttier than Thou” (part 2) where I begin to address the politics of language and protest movements on the issue of slut walks. Coming on Friday.

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Atheists of Color

Greta Cristina has made a list of prominent atheists of color to reflect the diversity of the atheist community:

If you’re helping to organize an atheist conference, and you want your conference to be more diverse and more reflective of the makeup of the atheist community? If you’re an atheist writer or activist, and you want your quotations/ citations/ blogroll/ etc. to be more diverse and more reflective of the makeup of the atheist community? If you’re simply part of the atheist community/ movement, and you want to be more familiar with the work of a wider range of atheists, a range that’s more diverse and more reflective of the makeup of the atheist community? Hopefully, this list will help.

By the way, person of color is used primarily in the United States, so here’s a brief definition from Wikipedia:

a term used, primarily in the United States, to describe all people who are not white. The term is meant to be inclusive among non-white groups, emphasizing common experiences of racism. People of color was introduced as a preferable replacement to both non-white and minority, which are also inclusive, because it frames the subject positively; non-white defines people in terms of what they are not (white), and minority frequently carries a subordinate connotation.[1] Style guides for writing from American Heritage,[2] the Stanford Graduate School of Business,[3] Mount Holyoke College,[4] recommend the term over these alternatives. It may also be used with other collective categories of people such as students of color or women of color.

Aside from getting more diversity in the atheist movement, Greta wants to address the impression (at least in the US) that most, if not all, atheists are white Americans. She addresses the issues and problems related to this in two separate posts.

As far as I know, there are two Filipinos on that list: me and Maggie Ardiente, director of development and communications, American Humanist Association; editor of Humanist Network News (AHA’s weekly e-zine). Filipino Freethinkers is also included on the list of organizations.

If you know of an individual or organization that should be on that list, please help Greta out by leaving the details in the comment section of that post.

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A Call to Restore Sexual Orientation in UN Resolution against Extrajudicial Executions

On November 2010, the Third Committee of the United Nations General Assembly voted to remove a reference to sexual orientation from a key resolution condemning extrajudicial killings. For the past ten years, the Resolution on Extrajudicial, Summary, and Arbitrary Executions has urged states to “to investigate promptly and thoroughly… all killings committed for any discriminatory reason, including sexual orientation. The amendment removing the reference to sexual orientation was adopted with79 votes in favor, 70 against, 17 abstentions and 26 absent. The Philippines was among the seventeen states that abstained.

Today, December 21, 2010, the UN General Assembly will vote on a motion to restore “sexual orientation” in the text of the resolution. The following is a letter from the Filipino Freethinkers urging the Philippine government to uphold the rights of Filipino lesbians, gays, bisexuals, and transgender (LGBTs) by voting to restore the reference to sexual orientation.

21 December 2010




Secretary, Department of Foreign Affairs

H.E. (Mr.) Libran N. Cabactulan

Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary

Permanent Mission of the Republic of the Philippines to the United Nations

556 5th Avenue

New York, NY

Dear Sirs,

We, the members of the Filipino Freethinkers, are writing to you as allies of the Filipino lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community and advocates of equal rights for LGBTs. We urge you to vote for restoration of the category sexual orientation in the Resolution on Extrajudicial Summary, and Arbitrary Executions.

In the Philippines and all over the world, LGBTs continue to be victims of abuse and extrajudicial killing. In 2010 alone, the non-government organization Rainbow Rights Project, Inc. (R-Rights) reported 11 documented cases of local killings based on actual or perceived sexual orientation. Given the lack of policies against discrimination and hate crimes, it is highly probable that many more cases go undocumented and unnoticed. Overseas Filipino workers are also vulnerable to torture and killing based on actual or perceived sexual orientation, especially in countries where consensual same-sex behaviour is deemed criminal. By abstaining from the previous vote on the amendment to the resolution, the Philippine government has turned a blind eye to the realities faced by Filipino LGBTs.

All too often, these grave violations of human rights are motivated by an irrational hatred of sexual minorities, or committed in the name of religious fundamentalism.  As advocates of reason, science, and secularism, we condemn these forms of human rights violations, and we urge you to do the same. We believe that hate crimes and killings on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity—whether or not they are based on religious dogma—should have no place in a state that has committed to promote, uphold, and protect human rights for all. We implore you to vote to restore the reference to sexual orientation in the text of the resolution on extrajudicial, summary, or arbitrary killings.


Filipino Freethinkers


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On Equal Respect and Reality.

Last Saturday, I went to my first LGBT Pride March under the banner of the Filipino Freethinkers. It was worth every bit of sweat. My heart is swelling with so much pride it could shit exclamation marks. LIKE THIS!!!!!!!!

I could not be thankful enough for the multitude who came to support the cause; All the people who honked and cheered, all the people who shook hands and smiled, all the people who had cheerful thoughts in their hearts as united marchers blocked the roads. And the children! I wish we could all be like the children who asked whether Jesus truly loved gays.


Unfortunately, although the metropolis seems to accept LGBT with undoubted sincerity, gay men and women are still not real men and women. At least, that’s how our mainstream media sees it. In one TV journalist’s words: “…gays and lesbians are just as worthy of respect as real men and women”.

See, they respect us. Just not enough to think we’re “real”.

Apparently, it’s always just an act to them, this being non-heterosexual or non-straight. It’s always just a reaction to the normal: a by-product, nothing authentic or rooted. Masculine gays will always be just acting masculine because love for one’s own gender will always be the province of heterosexuals. Gays can’t be butch! That’s an oxymoron! Gays will always act like the sex opposite to their own.

This is because gays are not real, according to nature. Their view of nature. Not as real as the straights, at least.

But we should know better.

I am not a fan of labels or boxes. The whole idea of dichotomous identities is still foreign to me. But how ever we name ourselves, gay-straight-omni-trans-bi-nameless, we are just as real as everybody else. And we have to let others know that. There is no ‘everybody else’. No ‘other’.

Just us. Just everybody.

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