The furor did not die instantly, and the issue on rape being the subject of jokes will rankle as long as rape continues to be made a laughing matter. There have been discussions, reflections and reactions in print and online (not much on TV where the cause of the furor belongs) on the rape joke that was heard and laughed at by thousands in a live concert and later viewed with shock online.
I received loads of e-mails from readers who agreed with what I wrote, and a few from those who disagreed, some with spurious bastos e-mail sender names. (Was I able to trace where they came from?)
There were many discussions online and on Facebook that I followed, mostly among strong, conscientious women who have been working with women from all sectors of society, for women’s rights, women’s health, gender equality, etc. They have been doing their advocacy work in so many creative ways only women can think of. Don’t count the men out; many have participated in and supported moves to right the wrongs many women have suffered.
No need to do a blow-by-blow account here of what had transpired. The statement below is the result of group discussions of women and men concerned about how the media and media persons still regard women and the violence they endure as laughing matter. The statement comes from the Concerned Consumers of Media (CComedia). The sound of the name of the group suggests that it embraces comedy, but with a but.
The signatories sent a backgrounder: “In light of the recent incident of Vice Ganda making rape into a joke, and previous incidents involving other media personalities trivializing rape, a group of women and men have found it necessary to make public their stand against this and to let media owners, managers and personalities know that media can do something to be of better service to the public, most especially to women.”
The statement is titled “An Open Letter to the Owners, Managers and Staff of Print and Broadcast Media Outlets, Including TV Entertainers.” It was posted online last night so that people could begin adding their signatures.
This is the statement in full:
“We are groups and individuals alarmed by entertainment media’s increasingly cavalier treatment of women. The most recent example of this is the offensive rape joke of Vice Ganda (a host in ABS-CBN) in his widely publicized and well-attended concert. Lest we be perceived to be engaged in network war, we also cite as example a 2011 episode of ‘Bubble Gang’ (in GMA7) that reportedly earned the show’s creative team a reprimand from the network management.
“We will no longer attempt to reply here to charges of our being humorless, literal and incapable of appreciating comedy. Instead, we reiterate our indignation over any attempt to normalize or trivialize rape. We likewise reiterate our firm belief that as an institution with tremendous power to shape public opinion, media cannot be party to a celebration of violence against women and children.
“As one of the most important socializing institutions that influence society’s values and conventions—along with the church, school and state—media cannot take the very real, almost intractable problem of widespread abuse of women and children and comedify, let alone commodify, this problem. This media practice could result in society becoming so desensitized and no longer revolted by a scenario of rape or any other form of gender violence.
“No, we will not stand by any attempt to belittle the importance of rape and gender violence as the crimes that they are, and reduce this disturbing trend we have observed in media to mere cultural differences or ‘flexibility’ in the public’s appreciation of comedy as art.
“We applaud the recent but barely publicized adoption of ‘The Gender Equality Guidelines in the Development of Media Policies and Implementing Programs to Promote Gender Mainstreaming’ initiated by the Philippine Commission on Women under the Office of the President.
“We convey our appreciation of the Movie and Television Review Classification Board’s reminder to ABS-CBN to adhere to the laws protecting women and children, and exhort the performers and executives of GMA7, TV5 and other studios to do likewise.
“We know private media outfits, especially television studios, to be strong supporters of professional development. We are aware of the numerous skills workshops they require of their talents. We call upon them to initiate gender sensitivity training as part of such professional development.
“The Pinoys’ humor is legendary. Let this strength of ours instruct us about tolerance and diversity, not prejudice and violence.”
What next? CComedia hopes to hear from the networks after the statement is uploaded on its Facebook pages and other sites. CComedia says the statement is an initiative of individuals who have spent time and other resources in the hope that the statement will have a multiplier effect through the social media.
A signatory said that if CComedia only had the money, the statement would come out as a full-page ad in newspapers or a 45-second ad on TV. Although the signatories are individuals, organizations are encouraged to adopt the statement.
CComedia’s urgent call now: A serious gender orientation among the staff and even the key “stars” of networks, from top to bottom, to avoid gaffes that victimize women.
Send feedback to [email protected] or www.ceresdoyo.com.