As far as I’m concerned, rape jokes will never be acceptable. I am not a feminist, but there’s something about objectifying women that leaves me in a slow burn. Rape and sexual harassment are experiences that invoke trauma, anxiety and depression, thus I would usually consider any jokes on the above to be ignorant and tasteless.
Jokes and off-the-cuff comments involving rape and harassment have become the norm in the Philippines. What was once considered a threat is now considered as an ordinary every-day remark. Though there are those who take these experiences lightly, I never expected such remarks to come from one of the most respected people in my country.
President elect, Rodrigo Duterte, is back in the headlines this week for yet another rape joke. During his speech at a tourism event in Davao City last Friday, Duterte hit on the Miss Universe candidates as the subjects of his remark.
“What I don’t like are kids [being raped],” Duterte said at a tourism event in his Davao City hometown Friday night as mentioned in Inquirer. “You can mess with, maybe a Miss Universe. Maybe I will even congratulate you for having the balls to rape somebody when you know you are going to die.”
His statement gathered mixed views as some stated it was just a tactless joke but there are those, (including me) who found the statement offensive. Rape is being taken lightly in the Philippines, and to joke about it makes it more acceptable to offenders (or future offenders) believing rape will be laughed off.
Numerous Cases of Tasteless Rape Remarks
Duterte has not helped his popularity with women much simply because he has made it almost a habit to joke about rape. His first gaffe happened during a campaign rally in 2016 when he drew the ire of women around the world for a joke about raping an Australian missionary.
The Australian missionary, Jaqueline Hamill was kidnapped in Davao (Philippines), raped and eventually killed in 1989. Her case was discussed during President Duterte’s campaign speech. When they talked about rape, he mentioned that he should have had a “first go”. “She was so beautiful. I thought, the mayor should have been first,” Duterte stated as part of his speech.
Aside from insulting the memory of Jacqueline Hamill, the President, during a Marawi Siege speech, boldly declared that he would stand by his soldiers, even if they raped three women. Duterte stated that he will stand by his troops as long as they did their jobs.
“If you go down, I go down. But for this martial law and the consequences of martial law and the ramifications of martial law, I and I alone would be responsible, just do your job I will take care of the rest,” Duterte said on Friday, according to a president’s office transcript. “I’ll imprison you myself,” he said, referring to any soldiers who commit violations, then he joked: “If you had raped three, I will admit it, that’s on me.”
Hailed as the Champion of Misogyny
Senator Pia Hontiveros was furious after hearing the President’s repetitive rape remarks. She lashed out during on one of her Twitter posts. Hontiversos barked that Duterte’s first year in power has been a dangerous year to be a woman because of the President’s numerous sexists’ remarks and the manner in which he treated Sen. Leila de Lima during their feud.
“We are running out of horror. We’re weary of rejecting these kinds of harassment, sexism and misogyny at its worst,” Hontiveros stated. “The President is getting comfortable when it comes to using harsh remarks that can happen to any woman; thinking it is a simple joke. Rape jokes need to stop, as it steps on the victim’s dignity. With his tactlessjokes, it seems that President Duterte is the champion of male sexism, chauvinism and misogyny.”]
Amplified Rape Jokes on a Lax Rape Culture
Rape jokes are starting to become the norm in the Philippines; if a president can tell these jokes, it must be acceptable, right? Rape jokes are only a quarter of the rape culture that women, children and men are facing. Come 2017, we’re living in a society where people openly practice sexual harassment through rape jokes, cat calling or telling the world that they are fantasizing about someone on their social media accounts.
In an era where rape and harassment are taken lightly, rapists and abusers are more likely to think they have a free pass to harass their victims. Several rape cases and sexual harassment encounters have yet to be reported because survivors fear judgement, or worse, being blamed for a pervert’s actions.
Victim blaming is perhaps the most frustrating piece of the rape culture. Any victim of sexual assault who talks about their experience (rape, harassment, molested) in the Philippines, faces the possibility of being blamed for the deed of the abuser. Many victims have been accused of dressing too provocatively, thus tempting rapists. Also, some women have been blamed for being raped because they had too much to drink with the man who raped them. How frustrating must it feel when others believe that because you went out with someone the night before they then have the right to sexually abuse you. It makes no sense and this is how many Filipinos think. It’s madness!
Rape is sexual assault usually involving sexual intercourse or other forms of sexual penetration carried out against a person without that person’s consent. What kind of man would stoop to assault for sex? A man wouldn’t but a coward would.
Written by Abbie Uychiat
Abbie Uychiat studied BS Psychology and is an aspiring independent film director based in the Philippines. She is a dreamer and is juggling the joys of single motherhood, her career as a recruitment specialist and a freelance writer. Part of her mission is to provide a better and cleaner Philippines for the future generation.