Revealing truths

*All photos are mine. Please don’t copy or use without my permission

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It amazes me how one impulsive action could lead to the opening of so many doors, most of them to the revelation of the truth.

By some stroke of blind impulsiveness and a touch of flaming rage, I gathered my courage to visit the Directress of the Master’s department in UP Cebu to complain and explain my side of the story.
I ignored the bubbling fear of ostracization and victim blaming and gathered all my composure to properly explain what happened. The Directress explained that the Dean of the department has long held doubts regarding the professional ethics of the said professor. Hearsays have been reported but no actual complaint. As it turns out, I was the first to complain and the first to provide explicit proof. 
She also explained that the said professor has taken a week-long leave from work and that the university provides a budget of Php 25,000 for every paper presentation at a conference. The paper, as it turns out, was named after the said professor when he requested for funding and he made sure to secure that funding by submitting the abstract to MELTA. Rumors have abound that he has done this to students before as he asks them to gather data, he organizes the paper, asks them to present it then he gets the credit and the funding. 
The Directress thanked me for my complaint because now they have grounds to question him for his actions. She assured me that me and my partner need not fear because the program will protect us and we have helped preserve the integrity of the program by actually complaining and submitting the evidence of his unethical behavior. 
All I could do is breathe a sigh of relief at finally being able to say what I needed to say to the person in authority who could best act on it.
I have to admit, I felt as liberated and as bold as a fierce lioness when I made my complaint. It’s like a giant thorn has been plucked from my back and now I can sit back and enjoy the feeling of standing up for what I believed is right. 
I can go right ahead and rest now. 
Fuck you and your corrupt ways, Sir A. 
I’m gonna rest like a bear now.

An open letter to the misogynists who justify street harassment

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Just recently, a friend on Facebook complained about being harassed in public transportation. This isn’t a very new sentiment since I know of various women and members of the LGBTQA community who have been unduly harassed by perverts in public places.

What saddened me, however, was despite the supportive comments she received, another acquaintance thought it best to argue that what women wear subjects them to harassment. He even further argued that men, essentially, have trouble controlling their urges and that it’s the woman’s responsibility to get into more “decent” clothes in public if she doesn’t want to get harassed.

If you don’t know by now, I am a feminist who has also experienced my share of harassment and abuse from perverts. As such, I was truly offended for the friend who experienced harassment and for everyone else who had to endure cat calls and normalized street harassment.

As such, I have written this fairly impassioned post as a response. Be warned, though, that I may have been overcome by emotion when I penned this. I have refrained from directly calling him out as a dick and an asshole even though it took a lot of my willpower to do so. 

Enjoy my random ranting:

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First off, I would like to point that I do not usually engage in public posts such as these. We are all entitled to our own opinion and I fully support your right to express your dissatisfaction over certain posts. This same freedom also grants others the right to comment and disagree with your own opinion. After all, that’s what democracy is about. So, with an open mind, I hope you also take into consideration my response to your “open letter.”

You have made the statement that men, in some way, are justified to catcall or grope women in public places simply because “they’re men” or that’s just “how men are.” 

Here are the list of reasons why this statement is problematic:

(1) Men are not idiots. 

To argue that some men cannot control themselves and would not be able to resist making women uncomfortable is an insult to the intelligence and moral compass most other men have. And, by other men, those men who actually look at a beautiful girl, think “hey, she’s pretty” but will not attempt to make her feel uncomfortable by cat calling or trying to get a feel. 

The statement “that’s just how men are” severely downgrades men’s ability to think rationally and to act in consideration of another person’s feelings. 

This line of thinking is problematic because it undermines men’s ability to rationalize. It categorizes men as self-serving, sex-depraved monkeys who would jump at any chance to violate or harass women simply because they “can’t help it”. 

We all know real men are better than that.

(2) A man’s penis should not be used as a justification for lewd and disrespectful behavior. 

We, as human beings, are subject to feelings of desire and attraction which are all quite normal. What’s abnormal is allowing those feelings of attraction to override logic, especially in situations that simply do not facilitate that attraction (namely, riding a bus, jeepney, or simply walking down the street). This is why the phrase, “men have two heads but the only one has the brain” comes in. Sure, you have a penis but that doesn’t and shouldn’t make you feel entitled to violate another person’s boundaries and subject her to harassment.
It’s insulting to the rest of the men who actually do respect women.

(3) What a woman wears and how she carries herself is not for your benefit. 

When a woman makes an effort to look pretty or sexy, she’s doing it for herself – not for you. 

Most women struggle with self-love and self-appreciation, so we make the most of every effort to feel confident in the clothes and makeup we wear. Our clothes are a reflection of our identities. As such, you have absolutely no authority to condescendingly judge a woman for the clothes she wears and why she wears them. 

So, do women owe it to men to judge us on what and how we should wear our clothes? Of course not! 

Even if you did judge, and that is inevitable, it is still not enough of an excuse for perverts to disrespect other women. 

(4) Women are conditioned to fear men because of the normalized street harassment, whether we like it or not

Often, we’re left to wonder: Isn’t it much better if women just blatantly spoke out against their harassers? That way, the harasser would know that what he’s doing is wrong (he probably already knows it’s wrong) and that he wouldn’t get away with it (even though he was hoping he could).

Well, funny thing is, women have gone through this kinds of abuse from since they were very young and one thing you learn from growing up in the Philippines is, you don’t ever disrespect someone who’s much older…even if they were wrong.

Imagine a young girl of 12 walking to school wearing the pretty hair band her mother gave her because “she’s a pretty princess” only to consistently have to look down while walking simply because couple of guys on the streets keep calling out and saying “smile, pretty girl” or “hi, sexy.” Most of these guys are in groups and most of them are definitely waaaay older. 

How do you think a young girl would feel growing up in a society that normalizes that kind of behavior? Worse still, when she comes home and complains to mommy, her mom has to tell her that she shouldn’t talk back because they could be dangerous (which, is also, probably true). 

(5) Victim-blaming propagates the fear of speaking out against harassment

Notice how most women have to be told to “restrain” themselves from calling out against abuse? Often, several women often have to keep themselves in check instead of blatantly putting down their harassers because “he’s not worth it.”

Apparently, women have to consistently keep in their anger and frustration against being subjected to harassment because it is “disrespectful”, as if the harasser even considered respecting the victim in the first place. 

Confused? You see, women, for a long time, have had to endure forms of harassment that has somehow become normalized. 

At a young age, a girl has to undergo through the conflict of wanting to look pretty and wear nice clothes but at the risk of going out and getting cat called for doing so. 

When that young girl grows up, she’s conditioned to believe that simply talking back against these cat callers is dangerous and bad. On the other hand, some of the people who don’t know any better would quip about how she should feel flattered about being cat called because that means she’s “attractive”. Like, really? That’s supposed to be a compliment? 

Evidently, the cat calls are misogynistic but they are normalized to the point that those subjected to it have to feel bad for feeling bad about it.

This is also the kind of mindset that propagates the very same thinking that “what women wear is related to how women should be respected”, which, in itself is a very flawed concept. What you’re doing, dear cat callers/gropers/perverts, is to condescendingly normalize harassment and even justify it without consideration for all the harassment women have to go through.

And, it’s not just women. Even members of the LGBTQA community have, at one point or another in their lives, been subjected to harassments that are often normalized with statements like “you deserved it” or “you asked for it.” 

(6)  Arguing that a woman’s clothes is a cause for rape or harassment only propagates the victim-blaming logic entrenched in patriarchal societies. 

Once again, the victim is blamed for an act that could have and should have been avoided.The subject of the harassment is further harassed by judgments like “she probably asked for it” or “she provoked it.” 

Simply, there are just some animals (I wouldn’t call them men) who cannot control their urges and are willing to break socially accepted rules of conduct just to satisfy their lust. We call them perverts and/or sex offenders. 

That doesn’t mean, however, that all men are. 

To nurture this kind of thinking is to encourage young girls to consistently fear men because they will never know who, among these men (be they ‘educated professionals’ or not), would potentially molest or harass them. 

To nurture this kind of mindset is to downgrade the rest of the men as lustful animals driven only by sex. 

To nurture this kind of thinking is to make more women feel like objects subjected only to the desires of these animals (not men) because, apparently, even the clothes we wear have to be subjected to approval otherwise we’d all be labeled as ‘open for harassment’.

This is why several rape victims are afraid of speaking out against their rapists because even if they tried, they would still be judged as if the rape was “their fault.” This mindset helps propagate the idea that “it’s okay” for these animals (not men) to harass women so long as they can get away with it.

No, abuse is abuse and harassment is harassment. 

It doesn’t make it less of an abuse by accusing the victim. 

No, no one likes to be abused, and no, no one asks for abuse. 

To summarize, I think it’s only fair to say that condescending statements like “sala mo kay sexy ang bayo mo” (it’s her fault for wearing something so sexy) is total bullshit. 

These are the exact statements that could be expected from somebody who would also openly talk about women’s bodies as merely sex objects

No, we don’t wear nice clothes for you to catcall us. No, we don’t care about your opinion. And, no, that doesn’t give you the right to try to grope me or stare at me provocatively. 

Think with your rational head please and keep the other one at bay.

My middle fingers salute you.

What I do with my body does not concern you

Take that internalized patriarchal misogynistic perspective of yours and go back to the decade or century when oppression and commodification of women and people of other races was the norm.

In fact, take your “negative-ist” perspective and go back to that damned time, because we don’t need any more of your oppressive judgments on our lives and on our characters in this century. Better yet, take back the time you used to judge other people to actually focus on making yourself a better person and an even better member of this society.

Also, your judgments hardly matter because it’s not like I would allow your judgments to define myself as an individual and as a human being. Unlike you, I respect other people enough to respect them for whatever decisions they make in their lives and on their bodies.

To The PTA Moms at My Son’s School

I am reblogging this because this blog post serves a very important message: there will be people who will antagonize you and the people you love for being different. There will be people who will close other people off because of their gender, race, political inclinations, and everything else that makes them human and special. There will be people out there who will propagate hate over ignorance and refusal to open up their minds.

But this is also a challenge for the rest of us who know better.

We know that these people exist and, though it pains us to try to deal with them and educate them (because they refuse to be educated), we should still hold our heads high and defend our rights and the rights of the very people these ignorance antagonizes. We have to show that even if there are people who think this way, there are people who think otherwise and we can do our part in encouraging those marginalized by the close-minded to come out and be proud of who they are. Because for every individual who shouts “hate” over being different, there are at least 2 more who say “No to the hate”.

Raising My Rainbow

Last week I published a blog post about things said during a PTA meeting I attended at my youngest son’s school. I wanted to shine a light on the homophobic, transphobic, insensitive, hateful and hurtful things that some moms said during the meeting and show that as far as we have come in LGBTQ acceptance and equality, there is still much work to be done. And sometimes that work needs to be done in heavy doses at places much closer to home than we’d like.

Almost immediately, PTA moms from our school started commenting, messaging and reacting viscerally on social media.

As they did, I stared at the PTA tagline: Every child, One voice. I’m not convinced that our PTA as a whole cares about every child and some of the voices I heard that night are not voices I want speaking on behalf of my child. That being said…

View original post 1,491 more words

#Beenrapedneverreported

“As soon as rape enters any kind of public discussion, so does the backlash,” Amanda Ruggeri writes in her narrative about rape culture and her personal account of her own rape.
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The statement holds true for most women. Even in this century, where rape is expressly abhorred and discouraged, victim-blaming persists. Despite claims of rising statistics in rape reports, these reports are questioned and considered unreliable sources of information regarding rape culture due to the argument that several of the women who have reported have retracted their statements and that several others have admitted to false claims of rape. What many don’t understand is that there is more to the reports than just statistics and retraction statements.
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Several of these women have had to retract statements in order to protect themselves, their families, their friends, and even the rapists themselves. This holds true even for male victims of rape.

The misogynistic questions and statements that are given out as soon as rape is discussed or reported also diminish the confidence of most women to speak out. The sad thing is, in discussions of rape and rape culture, it is almost always the victim’s fault. Statements like, “what were you wearing?” Or “maybe you were asking for it” perpetuate the stigma that rape victims associate when reporting rape cases. It is no better for male victims who are ridiculed as being less masculine because “rape just doesn’t happen to guys”.

As such, despite the statistics, rape victims are not speaking out as much as they’d want to. Why would they if the very social community they report to would condemn them for it? Why would they report if the families and friends they love would not believe them or, worse, ostracize them for it? Why would they report if the rapist is a respectable figure in the home (or in society) and “he just couldn’t do that”? Shame on you, ladies and gents, for speaking out the truth of your abuse. Shame on you, ladies and gents, for trying to fight for your rights.
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A few weeks ago, the twitter hashtag #beenrapedneverreported spread like wildfilre. What started out as a platform for discussion regarding rape allegations against a CBC radio host, turned into a global discussion on why rape victims never report their stories to authorities, opting instead to share them on social media.

The goal is to encourage more women to speak out about the rape culture and limit the stigma associated with reporting on the issue. While several arguments have been put up regarding the effectivity of using twitter or social media to increase awareness and “stop” rape, many women still feel that speaking up anonymously or speaking up about it on twitter is a more viable option than actually reporting it to proper authorities.

The hashtag has been going around for almost two weeks now, and is still sparking some very good discussions.
Informed citizens make more educated decisions.

The discussions are fascinatingly educational. It is both sad and good that the twitter hashtag became global in the way that it did. Sad, because it reflects how much modern society has ignored the cries of several victims – leading most of them to never report on the crime for fear of being judged – to how very little has been done tp fight against it. Good, because it educates more people about the issue that must continue to be discussed if any solution is to be accomplished, if at all.

If one really thinks about it, most of the women in our lives have been victims of the rape culture in one way or another but many have refused to speak out or decided in the end to not to.

Even now, when most people could freely share thoughts and opinions on social media, several people still find it difficult to share news and articles regarding rape and the rape culture. Even if we call ourselves strong, independent, women, the fear could still cripple us. There’s the fear of judgment, harassment, and the fear of being attacked for speaking out. Even just a few minutes ago, I hesitated about sharing articles on Facebook regarding sexual harassment and abuse for fear of being judged as too uptight, preachy, too much of a killjoy, and for being an uppity feminist. While I have no qualms sharing articles like these on twitter and on this blog, the larger Facebook audience is intimidating because of the knowledge that the more people read your posts, the more they are susceptible of judging you for it. For discussions on rape, questions like “have you even been raped yourself?” are inevitable.

Whenever someone asks me this question, I can just smile.

I have personally never been a victim of rape, but it was close enough. Not a lot of my friends knew about it, and only my very immediate family knew about the story. And, even then, whenever I react regarding issues on rape and sexual abuse, they would question me and ask why I’m still “not over it” when it’s been a long time ago. I couldn’t necessarily blame them for thinking that way and for worrying about me. To them, they would very much to keep the wound closed, leave it in the past, and forget about it. It’s a coping mechanism. If it’s kept in the past long enough, and if it isn’t discussed, then it might be easier to get over it… But it isn’t.

Essentially, any discussion about rape shouldn’t be limited to victims or to those directly affected by the rape. Ideally, it should be a free discussion, focusing on the protection & assistance of rape victims and on the education of more people regarding rape & how to stop it.

Personally, I believe discussions should not be limited to how women and male victims could protect themselves against rape. This only puts the responsibility of protection and prevention on the victim. It makes it seem like rape is inevitable and that the best approach against it is for the victim is to deal with it. This should not be the case.

Instead, the best approach is to discourage the act of rape itself. It is important to actually establish that the act itself is wrong and masculinity has nothing to do with it. Victims should not be discouraged to speak out and law enforcement authorities should themselves avoid victim blaming, and instead assume the victim’s innocence (instead of having the victim prove their honesty and innocence before action could be taken).

This is important because these, essentially assert both men and women. Educating more people and decreasing the stigma against victims that is associated with it helps propagate the idea that real men do not rape women and that it is not less masculine for men to help fight against rape. It encourages more women, particularly the victims, to believe that not all men are inclined to rape and that they are as into the fight against rape as they are. Men could take on active roles in the protection of victims’ rights too, and they should be encouraged to do so.

We have come a long way since the sexist oppression of the Victorian era, but there’s still work to do. So long as there are victims of rape and sexual harrassment, then the fight goes on.
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For more information regarding the use of social media by several women in discussing rape and their fear of reporting, check out the hashtag on twitter.

xoxo
Sheree