Velez: Wars, revolutions over vaginas

Tyrone Velez

WHETHER the excuse is that it was a joke or it was being Bisaya lumpen-speak doesn't spare the President of criticism on his remark of shooting NPA "amazonas" in their vaginas.

The remark was made during a gathering reportedly of NPA surrenderers in Malacañang last February 7, where he took potshots at the rebels. One could imagine what these surrenderers are feeling, squirming hearing the president speak like that on women.

And the presidential spokesman's defense is to call feminists 'OA' or overacting over the President's remarks. But that did not stop the women, and even the men, to shoot on Duterte's mouth.

Consider the statement of Dr. Jean Lindo of Gabriela Davao pointing out that the "sexualization of the counter-insurgency campaign is not only directed to the female revolutionaries but to all women. For how many women in our country have been on the receiving end of sexist jokes, threats and sexual assault? "

One woman is raped every hour in this country, according to the Center for Women's Resources. Government statistics say there have been 4,605 reported cases of rape, sexual harassment, attempted and incestuous rape in 2016. This has women advocates define our culture as driven by machismo.

And it is more telling that the highest official of the land is exemplifying that machismo, or being a "macho-fascist" as Gabriela Party-list Rep. Emmi de Jesus calls it where he "openly encourages violence against women, contributes to the impunity on such, and further confirms himself as the most dangerous macho-fascist in the government right now."

That machismo is influencing social media trolls who threaten Gabriela and Kabataan partylist representatives, or Rappler editor Maria Ressa, or any woman critic of the government with rape.

The president, his mouth and his minions could not be a better example to my son, or to any children in how to treat women or children.

Lindo said women advocates especially in Davao once supported Duterte because of his track record as mayor of signing the Women Development Code. But this time, she said, they were wrong. "We express our outrage and disappointment over his anti-women remarks and his utter disregard for women."

If Mao Zedong said women hold half the sky, Digong just said shoot them in the vaginas, flatten the hills.

If one can't imagine the violence of words, or war, there are poems and plays to visualize that.

In Eve Ensler's groundbreaking play Vagina Monologues, the horrors of war and rape was voiced in My Vagina was My Village: "Not since the soldiers put a long thick rifle inside me. So cold, the steel rod canceling my heart. Don't know whether they're going to fire it or shove it through my spinning brain. …. They invaded it. Butchered it and burned it down./ I do not touch now. /Do not visit./ I live someplace else now. I don't know where that is.”

Or in English translation of Joi Barrios' poem To be a Woman is to Live at a Time of War: "No moment is without danger/ In one’s own home, To speak, to defy/ Is to challenge violence itself./… In my country/ To fight against oppression/ Is to lay down one’s life for the struggle. I seek to know this war./ To be a woman is a never ceasing battle/ To live and be free."

Men like Digong may define their legacy with wars and division, but women define theirs with something else, as Ensler again writes in a poem for the One Billion Rising Revolution 2018 campaign today on February 14 on Valentines. "My revolution is/ Connection not consumption/ Passion not profit/ Orgasm not ownership… It requires sitting still and staring deep into my eyes/ Go ahead/ Love."

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(tyvelez@gmail.com)