Letter to a casual misogynist
I get it. I’m noisy on social media and noisier in person. It’s hard not to roll eyes when I talk about politics. It’s hard not to think that I am seeing sexism where it doesn’t exist. The word “Mema” comes to mind. How easy to think that I’m just one more noisy woman you can tune out.
But for every girl who stays silent when she comes across your patronizing brand of misogyny, there’s one who doesn’t give two straws what you think. In a culture like ours where benevolent sexists come in the guise of caring fathers and sweet bosses, feminists have to speak a little louder. They say repetition is the key to understanding, so let me repeat this for you:
You may not be President Duterte or Donald Trump: You may not have many wives, or you may not talk about grabbing women by the p*ssy. You may not have ever committed adultery or rape. You may even think of yourself as a pretty good guy. You are possibly good at your job, might be a good provider.
But it doesn’t mean we can’t see you for the misogynist that you are. We see you at the club, sneaking your hands all sorts of places—over shoulders, under arms, around waists. We see you using chivalry as an excuse to “guard” or “protect.” We see you dancing close, asking for numbers, massaging shoulders in a “friendly” way. We see the girls try to shake off their discomfort. After all, they might possibly like you a little bit. Shouldn’t the attention be flattering? Wouldn’t do to cause a stir. Besides, it’s all in good fun, isn’t it?
We see you making jokes. Maybe stories about human trafficking and child rape make you uncomfortable. But it’s OK to make a rape joke. About a nurse, someone you work with, a girl on the beach. The words are graphic: “Ang sarap.” “Bibigyan mo ba yan?” “Pigilan mo ko, baka may mangyari.” And it gets more graphic. But they’re just words, right? No use getting worked up. You’d never cross that line. You’re a good guy. Besides, it’s not rape if the girl enjoys it.
We see you in the workplace. You might actually admire your female colleagues; might even find them talented or intelligent. But we see you. Commenting how women are so “OA” when it comes to feminist issues, job equality. Women should be grateful they’re even allowed to enter professions that were closed to them years ago. Isn’t that enough? They’ve come a long way, after all. Shame so many of the women bosses are bitches, though. And when you put your arm around a female colleague it’s good-natured, even avuncular. You might call them “honey” or “baby.” Never mind that female underlings aren’t in a position where, unless they’re brave or crazy, they can actually speak up about any discomfort they’re feeling.
We see you chatting up the waitress wearing a skimpy skirt. Most men wouldn’t even bother talking to her! But you take the time to notice how pretty she is—you might even call her “Ganda”—and you chitchat. You ask her jokingly what time she gets off work. Of course she’s smiling! It can’t possibly mean your attention is unwanted and that her job means she’s unable to brush you off. Women should smile more, anyway.
We see you opine about women’s clothes and makeup. You’re the kind of guy who likes to say he likes girls natural. Minimal makeup is best. But she should still take care of her appearance! And she shouldn’t be wearing too-tight clothing—too slutty—but she shouldn’t look frumpy either. Or else they’re never going to find a man! But then who wants a girl whose only goal is to find a man? And it is an entirely foreign idea, isn’t it, that women could be dressing or wearing makeup for themselves—and not for you?
We see you everywhere, by the language you use. Encountering a bad driver and saying “Babae siguro!” Being entirely unperturbed when male celebs get asked about their acting methods, while women get asked about their diets. Rating women, indulging in locker room humor because “boys will be boys.” Talking about some actress or other: “She looks like a bitch.”
We see you reading this. And we see you thinking to yourself: That couldn’t possibly be referring to me. Right?
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