posted September 01, 2018 at 12:50 am
After more than two years, we have learned that it is useless to expect the President to change his perception of women—or at the very least rein in his tongue.

His supporters even believe his spontaneity is endearing and equates to honesty and lack of hypocrisy.

At his age and given his temperament, Mr. Duterte is a prisoner of his own perceptions, habits and experiences.

Nonetheless, while we are not surprised that he has uttered yet another rape joke this week—he said on Thursday that the incidence of rape is high in Davao because there are many beautiful women there—we join the chorus of aghast citizens in saying that this leader should know better than advertise his misogyny.

His first controversial remark was made when he was just on the campaign trail. He said he should have been the first in line with a missionary who had been raped and killed while doing work in prison.

He also implied to soldiers that they could get away with raping women at the height of martial law down south. Fighting the communists would also entail shooting female adversaries in the genitals.

Earlier this year he kissed—on the lips—a Filipina overseas worker in Seoul, even as he insisted he sought her permission and made sure her husband would not mind the gesture.

Mr. Duterte and the Palace would have us take the situation lightly, saying he does not have a low regard for women, that in fact he respects women and wishes to protect them.

Sadly, these exhortations do not mean anything now. We know what we know—that some things will never change no matter the spin.

What we know, too, is that more than the views of one man, the bigger concern is the prevalence of the rape culture and victim-blaming in a society like ours.

Sure, we have made great strides in advancing gender balance and, in general, an open mind. The reality, however, is that these efforts have not been enough and many still choose to suffer in silence instead of speaking out and shaming those who must be shamed.

Rape is not a matter of beauty, not even of sex. It is about power, entitlement and impunity. Certainly there is nothing uglier than supposedly enlightened Filipinos believing that victims get raped because they look, or dress, or speak, or act a certain way.

If our President cannot lead on this issue, then let us take the initiative and do away with the rubbish thinking, ourselves.

Topics: Rodrigo Duterte , Rape joke , Misogyny , Palace
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