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At Large

The congressman’s dysmenorrhea

For many years, I was beset with dysmenorrhea, the scientific term for painful periods or menstrual cramps. Sometimes, it would get bad enough to send me to bed. An older sister would even go through what looked like the symptoms of early pregnancy, complete with nausea.

At the time, medical authorities would dismiss the cramps and nausea as a form of “female hysteria.” But, despite advice to “just ignore the pain,” there was no denying the debilitating effect of the monthly visitations. Today, medical literature says dysmenorrhea is “thought to be caused by excessive levels of prostaglandins, hormones that make your uterus contract during menstruation and childbirth. The pain results from the release of these hormones when the lining (endometrium) is sloughing off during your menstrual period.”

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So, it’s not all in our hysterical female minds.

Except perhaps in the mind of party-list Rep. Aniceto “John” Bertiz III of ACTS OFW, whose post has recently come into question. Bertiz became a viral darling after videos of his misbehavior went public. One such video shows him berating a security officer at the airport for asking him to remove his shoes as part of security protocol. Bertiz is then shown snatching off the ID of the officer after he shoves his “VIP access” ID in the officer’s face.

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After the video went viral, Bertiz was then forced to publicly apologize for his behavior, but his explanation only made things worse. In a press conference, Bertiz said his temper tantrum could be compared to that of a woman going through her “monthly period,” explaining away his “weakness and hot-headedness.”

Not only was he belittling the severity of the pain women go through at the onset of their periods, he also threw shade at women in general who have long been belittled and deemed unfit for “serious” roles in society because of alleged instability.

An FB friend takes the party-list representative to task for talking about “a feeling he knows nothing about.” She adds that she wishes “somebody would kick him in the balls so he’d get to experience one of many degrees of monthly period pains.” Sisters, join the queue!

Why should women, who are tasked to ensure the propagation of the human race, be penalized by law for fulfilling this vital role? Why are women employed outside the home made to “pay” for the privilege of bearing children by enduring a cut in pay and perhaps endangering their security of tenure because they need time off to recover from childbirth and look after their babies in their first vulnerable months of life?

Good news then for all expectant mothers! The House and the Senate just this week passed the bicameral committee version of the “Expanded Maternity Bill,” which will become law once President Duterte signs it.

This is what new parents will enjoy because of the law: 105 days of paid maternity leave (up from the current 60 days), with the option of taking another 30 days without pay, of which seven days are transferable to fathers; and an additional 15 days for solo mothers.

Who do parents have to thank for the law-to-be? In the Senate, Sen. Risa Hontiveros and Sen. Nancy Binay led the drive for the passage of the measure, while in the House, the Gabriela party-list and Rep. Pia Cayetano, among others, helped bring the bill to fruition.

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* * *

“Weaponizing” the internet has become a buzzword of sorts these days. But what if, instead of turning social media
into a tool of aggression and untruth, “weaponizing” meant positive change?

This is the gist of the talk of Maria Ressa, The Outstanding Women in the Nation’s Service (TOWNS) 2007 awardee for journalism and CEO and executive director of Rappler, who will speak on “Weaponizing the Internet for Social Change and Progress,” in the first of a series of TOWNSTALK @ AIM on Oct. 9, 9-11:30 a.m., at the Fuller Hall, Asian Institute of Management.

Reactors will be: Gang Badoy Capati, TOWNS 2010 for education and founder and executive director of Rock Ed Philippines; John Paolo Villasor, dean of the University of Negros Occidental-Recoletos School of Law; and Christian Lim, Country CEO of Microsoft Philippines. TOWNS Search 2019 will also be launched on the same occasion.

rdavid@inquirer.com.ph

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TAGS: Aniceto Bertiz, At Large, dysmenorrhea, Maria Ressa, Rina Jimenez-David, weaponizing the internet
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