An Open Letter to Filipinos Who Think Duterte’s Sexist Remarks Against Women Are Okay

Yesterday, President Duterte stood firm on his decision to allow the late dictator’s remains to be buried at the Libingan ng mga Bayani. This news shook me to the core. And just when I thought that things could never get worse, the Americans proved me wrong–Donald Trump won the US presidential elections.

I was at the office, watching Google’s live update as I awaited the end of my shift. I witnessed how the red slowly overshadowed the blue as victory greeted Trump and his supporters. All hope that I had for every woman in the world vanished when I saw that he needed only four more electoral votes to win the majority. By 4:00 PM, when the last few electoral votes were being counted, I refreshed Google three times before I let the truth sink in.

The world is going down for the third time for women.

This news disheartened me, but knowing that Clinton still won the popular vote means a great deal to me-–the majority of Americans do not want a sexist, misogynistic, and xenophobic man in the White House. My heart goes out to all the people who did note vote for Trump. The last thing that the world needs right now is another leader who will set an example for being a sexist, misogynistic fuckface.

I am writing this open letter because even before Trump won, a lot of people have been comparing him to our president. And worse, I’ve been reading news and opinion from people who keep justifying their disgusting words and actions. This makes me sick. I do not want to hear another “let them be” version, which pretty much varies from “Ano’ng magagawa mo, eh ganun sila magsalita?” “Hayaan mo na, matanda na.” “‘To naman, nag-jo-joke lang ‘yun.” “Ganun talaga siya.” “Dami mong alam!” “Shut up ka na lang!” to “P*tangina mo, dilawan!” 

I hate people who justify these two leaders’ sexist remarks about women. I understand that women in America are not done with their fight for equality yet–the 2016 presidential elections have left their country in fragments–but  I expected so much more from my fellow countrymen. Filipinos have never failed to surprise me these past few months. Whenever I see someone like Mocha Uson who applauds the president with all her might despite the man’s countless gender-directed insults and lack of political correctness,  I flinch.

I hate bigoted women who applaud the president for insulting other women–as if making scathing, appalling comments on their fellow women is not an insult to their gender as a whole. I hate stupid men, fathers especially, who justify the president’s foul words, who keep on insisting that he is only joking every time he cracks lewd remarks–as if they won’t care if their daughters were catcalled on the streets, as if they won’t mind if their kumpares threw sexist, offensive comments against their wives.

I hate you for being one of them. I hate you for being one sexist, misogynistic fuckface like them.

If you are just too blind or kulang sa pansin, I have no way of knowing. But if you think these sexist attacks are okay, I am sorry to tell you but you are one fucking stupid human being and you do not deserve a woman in your life.

We do not need another man who will insult us and make us feel less human.

We have had enough.

I have a lot going on in my mind, but I figured I might as well share my personal experiences to show you what it is like to live in a country where societal sexism exists–a country where people like you exist.

I have seen two exhibitionists in my lifetime. The first one was when I was in high school, while I was en route to Cubao. I was only 14 years old then. I had to submit my grandmother’s laboratory results to a certain hospital and that was actually my first time in the area. As a young girl who just set foot in an unfamiliar place, I was afraid I might get lost. I was riding a jeepney when an exhibitionist opened his zipper and showed me his disgustingly big, hard penis. I was shocked but I could not move. I could not say a word because 1) I was afraid of what he would do, 2) we were the only passengers in the jeepney and I did not have someone to back me up, 3) I was young and helpless, 4) I was a young girl and it’s normal for us to experience horrible things like this, and 5) he was tall and looked like he might do something bad to me if I fought back.

I looked away and let him do his thing while he continued to stare at me maliciously. I went home depressed.

The second time happened earlier this year when I was on my way home from work. I took the Espana-Blumentritt route and fell asleep on the ride. I was jerked awake when the jeepney came to a sudden halt near the Chinese General Hospital. When I opened my eyes, I was shocked because the swollen penis of the man on the other side greeted me. He looked at me with a mischievous grin on his face while he masturbated, but I did nothing. I did nothing, not because I was not insulted by the act, but because I was afraid. I went home more depressed and traumatized this time.

I am not the type who talks about my problems a lot, but I told my best friend about the incident a week later because I was still depressed. I do not always let these things pass–everyone who knows me knows this. In fact, I get back at these perverts whenever I have the chance. If I do not drop the PI bomb, I give them the middle finger. And do not even get me started on the subject of being catcalled on the streets–I experience this almost every day and I get back at the fuckface when I have the chance.

If catcalling is a form of sexual harassment, then I am disgusted with myself–I am sexually harassed by strangers. Every. Single. Day.

Depending on the circumstance, I also confront perverts. One example was when I was in an FX. I was wearing a skirt and I noticed that this fuckface kept accidentally sliding his hands on my bare legs. Since the FX was full of passengers, I decided it won’t do me harm to shame this disgusting man in front of them. I shouted to no one in particular, “Pwede pong makipagpalit ng upuan? Manyakis ‘tong katabi ko eh.” All eyes fell on me but the pervert could not look me in the eye. The man on the passenger seat gave way and offered me his seat. When we reached a stoplight, the pervert said “para” and went away.

The passengers praised me for being the brave girl, but if I was really brave, I would slap him hard on the face, take a picture of him, and post it on social media. But I was not brave enough.

In a country where it is normal for men to slut-shame women, especially when we are wearing revealing clothes, it is hard to muster the courage to fight back.

Sometimes, I want to wear a skirt or dress to work, not because I want to sport an on-point OOTD, but because this piece of clothing is easier to wash than jeans. But most of the time, I don’t. Most of the time, I settle for jeans rather than risking being catcalled by perverts on the streets.

Imagine your younger sister, your mother, your girlfriend, your wife, or whoever you hold dear being catcalled, watched by a pervert while masturbating in public transportation, and sexually harassed in public. If you keep justifying the president’s lewd remarks against women, if you keep treating societal sexism as a laughing matter, if you keep siding with these sexist and misogynistic leaders, and if you keep insulting women, then these acts of sexual harassment will continue and your loved one is at risk.

When the president, the man who holds the highest post in the country and the role model of many, started throwing misogynistic remarks to various women, I was dispirited. But to say that my heart was shattered when my fellow countrymen started justifying his actions, and worse, emulating them, is an understatement.

I am writing this open letter because I want my fellow Filipinos to stop these acts that are sexist, stupid, disrespectful, insane, and most of all, inhuman.

Yes, with fewer drug addicts around, it is safer for us to walk the streets at night. But, you see, I have lost count on how many times I heard men like you justify their deeds and words using the president as their example. One night, when my boyfriend and I were on a bus, we heard a random man saying, “Eh ano kung manyak ako, presidente nga natin manyak din eh.” Then on one viral Facebook post, a woman complained that a group of perverts catcalled her on the street. When she snapped back, they said, “Arte mo, kala mo maganda ka? Kahit magsumbong ka pa sa pulis. Kahit magsumbong ka pa kay Duterte, manyak din yun eh!” Even my younger brothers cheer whenever news about our president’s sexist remarks flash on our television screen.

Dear fellow Filipinos, is this how we want our society to be? To be full of sexists and misogynists who think it is okay to insult women because the president is okay with it? Because the president himself is doing it?

True safety is not about giving us the peace of mind to stroll the streets at night because there are fewer drug addicts around.

True safety is when women can confidently walk the streets any time of day without the fear of being sexually harassed.

I do not want my children to grow up in a society full of evil people. I do not want them to become one of you. I do not want my younger siblings and cousins to emulate what you are doing; I do not want them to think that it is okay to catcall women, to have “locker room” talks about us, to insult our dignity, and to make fun of us as if we are not humans.

In case you forgot, we are humans too.

We do not need another exhibitionist, we do not need another pervert who will harass us in public transportation, we do not need another stranger who will catcall us on the streets, we do not need another human being who will blame us for wearing short skirts and revealing clothes.

We are not the problem; your stupidity and lack of respect is the problem.

Dear Mr. President, if you truly care for women, stop being a sexist, misogynistic git because you are setting a bad example for your countrymen. Most Filipinos are not smart enough to determine what is right and wrong, and if you continue making gender-directed insults about women, they wouldn’t know that societal sexism is wrong. Lead by example. Use your power to influence Filipinos to respect women. With another misogynistic president on the waiting list, these acts of sexism need to stop. Only then will we be able to feel that we are safe under your government.

Only then will we feel that change has truly come.

I know that my blog post won’t reach a lot of people and I know that like billions of other posts, my blog post will disappear into the abyss of the world wide net within a few minutes. But I am taking my chances. If this blog post ever reaches your screen, please do not let my message pass like a ship in the night. You do not have to share this post–all I ask is for you to be a catalyst for change.

If change won’t come to us, let us come together to make the change.

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