On the Value of Talking About Rape and Feminism

Last night, I had the great pleasure of sharing my feminist views with my immediate family over a dinner in Don Henrico’s after two days of passionate tweeting about these views. And by “great pleasure” I do mean the food, and not the view-sharing. Ha.

I don’t blame my family for being conservative and all that, but their reactions (among them “That’s just how society is”, and my sister’s “Why is she making such a big deal out of this”) is exactly the reason why this world needs feminism. Yes, there’s a problem.

The fact that nobody’s addressing it and actually letting these things slide, the fact that nobody thinks talking about feminist issues and rape culture is worthwhile or that these issues are serious at all are the reasons why we should address these problems.

I know my sister to be someone who doesn’t care about anything (that’s the most straightforward I can go, she literally cannot care about anything and laughs at me when I do, no hate haha), but when she says “You’re just problematizing these things” it gets disturbing. There is a problem.

What if (God forbid) she gets raped, and everyone calls her a slut, AND THAT’S WRONG, but nobody will listen no matter how many times she tells people that it wasn’t her fault, that she dressed properly, and all people will tell her is “Well, you should’ve been more careful!” and “You were probably wearing too much makeup or something” WHEN ALL SHE NEEDS IS HELP AND UNDERSTANDING, and what if my family adopts the same mindset as they did last night and tells her the same exact things, that “That’s just the way society is” and “You can’t change that overnight”? Am I problematizing it too much then?

Rape happens. There were 685 REPORTED cases of rape in 2006. Abuse happens to ONE IN EVERY THREE FILIPINO CHILDREN, and in the first semester of 1999 2,393 children were victims to all kinds of sexual abuse. And yet, these statistics remain unreliable and untrue in representation, because not everyone who gets raped goes on to report it.

Wikipedia goes on to state that “In a conservative society like the Philippines where a woman’s chastity is upheld as a virtue, the shame of being raped cuts deep. The same attitude lays blame on the victim, labeling the woman as ‘a flirt’ who caused the act, wittingly or unwittingly, through various signals of enticement or invitation.” There you go.

Yes, there are institutions such as GABRIELA and the PNP Women and Children’s Unit, and I thank God for them, but it still takes speaking out, and how are women able to speak out if they’re ashamed of what society will think of them? wikipedia has an entire section stating:

Most victims of gang rape remain silent for months before reporting the crime. Obet Montes, coordinator for services of the women’s group GABRIELA, says this is due to the victim’s fear of society’s judgment, of not wanting to be branded as “maruming babae” (“dirty woman”). The group says further that a rape victim becomes so afraid that she is going to be blamed for the crime, that she denies that she was violated.

What makes rape any different from any other tragedy, and even if this statement may be ill-timed, what makes it different from a murder or a killing, except that murders are easier for the victim because he/she won’t be blamed or have to be ashamed for the rest of his/her life? Why tell the family member of someone who was murdered, “Oh, you shouldn’t have made them go there, this is your fault, you didn’t take the necessary precautions” when THAT IS THE ABSOLUTE LAST THING THEY WANT TO HEAR FROM YOU?

I hate being blamed for something or being told that I should’ve done something in order to prevent what happened to me when I’m already the victim. Where I need words of comfort and support, I get words of shame and accusation. I have never been raped (thank God) but what’s so bad about standing up for those who are?

Like my mother says, I can’t change these things overnight. I told her I didn’t plan on doing so, but why not start today?


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