Misogyny in the House

posted April 01, 2017 at 12:01 am
by  Elizabeth Angsioco
“Eh Diyos ko naman! Kayo naman eh. Sino ba’ng walang girlfriend?” in jest, the Speaker of the House of Representatives Pantaleon Alvarez was quoted as saying during a phone interview about his rift with Davao del Norte Representative Antonio Floirendo Jr. The former recently filed a graft complaint against the latter. However, some allege that the cause of these lawmakers’ quarrel is the spat between their girlfriends. Thus, the angle of the interview.

Speaker Alvarez denied their girlfriends caused the problem. However, he is said to have also admitted having eight children out of wedlock and two prior marriages. Currently though, he revealed being estranged from his wife. There is no talk of his marriage being annulled so it is safe to assume that he remains married.

Alvarez’s nonchalance in publicly and lightheartedly announcing his extramarital relationship caught people’s attention, and, of course, ire. After all, the Philippine society, being predominantly Catholic, frowns upon extramarital, premarital, and other affairs outside of marriage. However (like many other men caught in the same predicament), the Speaker made it appear like what he is doing is a perfectly normal and acceptable thing for men to do.

His statement is loaded with many insinuations. No, I will not go on a rampage about such relationships as sins or immoral. I refuse to moralize. Morality (when it comes to relationships) is a ticklish issue usually used against women to put us in our “proper place,” which is below men. Relationships should be regarded with liberality, and as personal to those involved. For as long as the relationship is between parties who are of legal age where mutual consent is present, and does not impinge on the rights of one another and people around them, such should be left alone. It is none of our business.

Having said this though, I am in no way defending Alvarez and those who think like him.

His statement is misogynistic and unacceptable. Taken within the context of previous acts and statements especially against Senator Leila de Lima, Alvarez comes out as sexist. It will be remembered that the Speaker (and his ilk including Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre and President Rodrigo Duterte himself) crucified, made fun of, and slut-shamed Senator Leila de Lima over her past relationship with Ronnie Dayan, a former security aide of the senator. They repeatedly threatened to publicly show alleged sex videos of the two. They used “morality” to destroy De Lima’s credibility.

“Eh Diyos ko naman! Kayo naman eh. Sino ba’ng walang girlfriend?” implies that extramarital affairs are normal and thus, acceptable. The Speaker seemed incredulous that he would even be asked about the issue. For him, all men have girlfriends on the side, just like all men like him have cars. That is just how things are. His having a relationship indeed, should not be an issue IF his marriage has been annulled. Then he is free.

In contrast, De Lima was a free woman when she had a relationship. Her former marriage has been annulled way BEFORE she had another partner. Yet she was slut-shamed to the hilt by powerful men who, on the other hand, think that their “sidelines” should be perfectly accepted by people.

“Eh Diyos ko naman! Kayo naman eh. Sino ba’ng walang girlfriend?” smacks of double standards of morality. We have seen this used in Senator De Lima’s case. “It is okay for men to have other relationships but not for women” is an archaic notion adhered to by Alvarez and people like him. Thing is, if we speak of equality, what is good for one sex should be good for the other. Conversely, what is unacceptable for one should be equally unacceptable for the other. Quits lang dapat.

Will Alvarez (and those like him) agree with this proposition? I seriously doubt it. Wives having other relationships is unthinkable, an affront to the name of the man that they carry. The ego will be hurt. Ever heard of the local expression “iniputan ang ulo”? It refers to men “dishonored” by wives’ carrying on with other men. But when it is the man who plays around, there is no talk about the wife’s honor getting destroyed.

“Eh Diyos ko naman! Kayo naman eh. Sino ba’ng walang girlfriend?” reveals a very low regard for women in general. I feel for the wives of these men who, at times, even boast of their extramarital relationships, and thus, their infidelity. This must hurt especially if the wives have been faithful to their wedding vows. These women have every reason to go to court because we still have a law that penalizes concubinage. It is, however, understandable why the legal wives usually do not choose to. After all, society teaches women to sacrifice for their families. After all, their husbands are rich, powerful and influential and it will be most difficult to go against such men. In many cases, these men provide for their families a kind of life that women will not be able to give their children. So they suffer in silence, away from the inquisitive public eye.

I feel for their girlfriends, too. They are like expensive material possessions flaunted by their owners for others to ogle at. I am not saying that women totally have no say in this situation. I know many who decided to go into such relationships with eyes wide open. Of course love cannot be totally taken out of the equation. Granted that the couple really love each other, still, society is usually harsher on the woman. The “other woman” is the home wrecker even if in many instances, it is the married men who pursue them.

Speaker Alvarez’s statement can be taken as a message to men that, hey, it is okay to have a girlfriend even if you are married. This is careless, reckless, and irresponsible especially coming from one of the most powerful men in government. This makes one wonder how low gender equality ranks in the Speaker’s legislative agenda.

“Eh Diyos ko naman! Kayo naman eh. Sino ba’ng walang girlfriend?” is not to be taken lightly. No, Mr. Speaker, this is not acceptable.

Misogyny in the House should not be taken lightly. It is very interesting how women’s rights champions in Congress will react to the Speaker’s statement. Will they protest this? Or will they let this slide? Abangan.

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Topics: Elizabeth Angsioco , House of Representatives , Pantaleon Alvarez , Antonio Floirendo Jr.
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