CHINA CONSTRUCTS | Louise Nichole Logarta
I thought a lot about what I wanted to talk about this week. There’s a lot going on, this week alone. We’re now seeing who the Filipino public have to choose from in the upcoming national elections. There’s also the latest development in the Senate hearings on Pharmally. Their whistleblower, Krizle Mago, has recanted her testimony, saying that her answers were ‘pressured.’
But out of everything that happened, what caught my special attention was Harry Roque’s question to a candidate at the recent Miss World Philippines 2021 pageant.
At what is supposed to be a competition showcasing and celebrating women’s strength, beauty and intelligence, Harry Roque, spokesperson of President Duterte, asked: “The frontrunner in all surveys for the post of president is a woman. If she were to ask you, should she run for president even if her children are very young, what advice would you give her?”
I don’t know where to begin. The very question makes me bristle. Predictably, this question earned the ire of the internet, as it was, quite rightly, a misogynistic remark. No one would ask a man the same question.
I don’t know what we women have to do to be taken seriously. If we don’t have husbands or children—even by choice—we are seen as incomplete, as less-than. Young, single women are told, “Mag-asawa ka na”, “Dapat may boyfriend ka na” or even “You’ll regret it kung hindi ka magkaanak.” Women over 30 who have neither are looked upon with pity, as if they needed it. When we do have families, we’re considered incapable of having fulfilling careers.
And don’t forget Senator Tito Sotto’s comment on single moms back in 2017. Referring to DSWD former secretary Judy Taguiwalo, he said: “In street language, when you have children and you are single, ang tawag do’n ay na-ano lang.” This language, coming from a supposedly educated leader in government.
Men, meanwhile, are applauded and seen in a sympathetic light if they were single parents. Neither are they told to get a wife when they hit a certain age. Unencumbered men are slapped on the back for being bachelors.
The double standards are insane.
Going back to my original point: Mr. Roque’s myopic view of things never ceases to astound me. It turns out he takes after his boss, who, it will be remembered, is known for his abundance of misogynistic, crude remarks about women, even of rape. Recall that he said that the presidency was not a job for a woman.
To her credit, Cebuana candidate Shaila Rebortera, replied with class and grace: “Other women are strong and brave because they sacrifice their career for their family. And if our candidate would like to pursue becoming a president despite sacrificing time for their family, in exchange of serving the Filipino people, then I would definitely support that.” To which I say, well said.
Women are capable of more than society believes. We are autonomous agents, the masters of our fates, the captains of our souls. We are whole, we are worthy, just by being ourselves.
Roque defended himself when the backlash came, saying what he said was a “valid question.” Needless to say, I, along with many others, disagree.
Here, Mr. Roque, is a valid question for you: What are you doing judging a Miss World beauty pageant and not tending to urgent matters of government? What are you doing posting your meaningless ‘KalmaAkoLangTo’ hashtags?
Do something actually useful with your time or make like your boss and retire from politics.