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The Rude Truth: Duterte’s offensive jokes

I do not understand why some women can still laugh at jokes directed against them. How can they allow such insults? How can they accept the diminution of their being?

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I WAS one of those angry women who readily let out a howl when President Duterte smooched an OFW in Korea. I went borderline hysterical when he ordered the military to shoot women rebels in the vagina. There was also the joke about being the first in line to rape an Australian missionary.

I see no end to the President’s penchant for using degrading language about women — he seems to enjoy doing the same again and again, like a vicarious pleasure, like booze.

 His latest attack, of course, is the widely reported molestation of their maid. It could be rape, as having carnal knowledge constitutes the crime of rape. It could be mere acts of lasciviousness. Whatever category we give the act, it is a clear case of injustice.

The admission, which his spin doctors considered as a joke, is to me not a joke at all. And even in the remotest possibility that it was, it was a badly delivered joke. No right-thinking individual should ever laugh at the misfortune and injustice being perpetrated against anyone, but most especially to persons who are in vulnerable situations, like the butt of his joke, their maid. It is such a big deal more so since the same is coming from the father of the nation.

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 Back in the mid-‘90s while attending law school, I had dealt with this similar pernicious malady of a male chauvinist.

My professor in Criminal Procedure — a Manila RTC prosecutor — went bragging in between serious class discussions the Ermita women he and his horny buddies had “dined, wined and sixty-nined.”

He must have thought his jokes were acceptable because the class cheered when he cracked one. But not me. I saw his jokes as offensive. There were only four of us females in his class and my disgust spread to my three women classmates who laughed heartily at his tasteless jokes. I risked my class card being marked with an indelible asterisk when I stood up and superwomanly called their attention to refrain from laughing at the sick joke. But what even amazed me was my courage to tell my professor matter-of-factly these words: “Sir, you have just also mocked your wife, your daughter, your sister, your mother, your grandmother.”

The class went silent. I slowly sat down to see  the curve of my professor’s mouth murmur something — perhaps an apology — before he went on with the lecture. I never heard him make another anti-woman joke in our class.

I do not understand therefore why some women can still laugh at jokes directed against them. How can they allow such insults? How can they accept the diminution of their being? Much of the prejudice suffered by women is reaffirmed when women themselves connive with those who carry out the insidious remarks against them. Connivance means being silent when there is a need to raise one’s voice. When we join the chorus of laughter not knowing we ourselves are being cut down, we empower the bully.

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Duterte’s confession makes one wonder  whether he is under some kind of a spell which makes him enjoy stomping on the rights of women. Was he unloved as a child to seek this kind of attention from the public? Were the reports on his childhood being the apple of the eye of his mother just woven to make an incredible tale? And  what of the women who loved him? Were they really that poor in taste to be enamored to a man who disrespects their own ilk?

To the women who might be unconsciously blinded  by the supposed reasons/answers to the foregoing, to those who laughed at the inappropriate jokes and would continue to “patronize” the same, I say — let us consciously choose to do this no longer. For until we do, the monster in him will be emboldened to trample on us.

In the presence of the dark force, we must not clam up.

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