It is a shame that women in positions of authority in this country are sometimes the first to ensure that double standards and glass ceilings remain, and firmly.
This week we heard Senator Leila de Lima admitting an affair with her former driver, Ronnie Dayan, who is now being accused of collecting protection money from drug lords operating from within their cells at the National Bilibid Prison.
The courts will eventually get to the issue of drug money, using, we hope, not just the controversial testimonies of the high-profile inmates when they were called to the House of Representatives, but solid paper trail and other evidence.
But in an attempt to justify her reason for engaging in an affair with Dayan, a married man, De Lima cited “the frailties of a woman.”
As if men were never frail.
Public attorney Persida Acosta, in the running for associate justice of the Supreme Court, seems to hold the same archaic views. Acosta wants to retain the harsher conditions for the grounds of infidelity when it is the married woman who commits the indiscretion.
Under current laws, a married woman may be charged with adultery every single time she has sexual intercourse with a man who is not her husband.
A married man, however, may only be charged with concubinage if he keeps a woman in the conjugal dwelling, has sexual intercourse, under scandalous circumstances, with a woman who is not his wife, or cohabits with her in any other place.
“[The law] should be stricter on women more than on men because women are the light of the home. If the home is destroyed because the woman cheats, it’s over. But if the man cheats, the woman remains strong, and since she is the light of the home, the home survives.”
Acosta may believe she is doing women good by invoking these platitudes about their strength and resilience, even uprightness, but she is not. What her statement betrays is a belief that right and wrong become relative depending on who commits them, and that women deserve harsher punishment for violating age-old gender roles that are rooted in patriarchy.
When a woman fails, it is because she fails as a human being, not because she is a woman who must be reined in for her intemperateness, poor judgment or frailty. This is absolutely no different from when anybody else fails. There is only right and wrong—no excuses, no hiding behind circumstances. One must be strong and decent and human enough to take responsibility for one’s actions. Any other thinking is what counts as frailty.