By Carolina S. Ruiz Austria

The word "Heresy"

was used by Irenaeus in Contra Haereses to discredit his opponents in the early Christian Church. It has no purely objective meaning without an authoritative system of dogma.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Misogynists in Our Midst: Wishing for Sexist Senators to become an Endangered Species

By Carolina Ruiz Austria

Make no mistake. A handful of men are the reason why Filipino women are not about to get access to reproductive health care services anytime soon.

As former Congresswoman, Risa Baraquel Hontiveros pointed out earlier this year; the proponents of the RH Bill have more than the sufficient numbers to pass the bill. RH advocates in the current Senate, Senators Pia Cayetano and Miriam Defensor Santiago have been at the frontlines of pushing back against the deliberate (phosphodiesterase type 5 inhibitor-like) blockade of the bill instigated by Senate President (and former Martial Law chief to the Marcos dictatorship) Juan Ponce Enrile, Ralph (got-elected-because-of-his-famous-actress-wife) Recto and Tito Sotto of worldwide plagiarism fame.

But consider the irony. Not only do the supporters of RH have the numbers to pass the measure, they also have, as their leaders (past and present), some of the more brilliant women leaders that Congress (and possibly the country) has ever had in politics, on their side.

Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago

Clearly, if IQ, accomplishment and leadership had anything to do with it, the RH Bill (and a host of other measures such as the Freedom of Information Act) would have already been passed into law and we would not be having this standoff during the few critical months before legislative inertia sets in leading to the election in 2013. The Senate’s artificially pumped blockade knows it and the Roman Catholic Bishops who have them in their back pockets know it too. If this was at all a fair fight, they would not have their way and Filipino women would not have to die because of childbirth and pregnancy related complications. If reason had anything to do with it, Filipino women would have the ability to plan their pregnancies. If social justice had anything to do with it, Filipino women would be in a position to take better care of them selves and as a result, also take better care of their families. Yes, if the opposition to the RH Bill were men of sterner stuff, they would let Congress take its vote on this measure instead of holding the legislative process hostage through countless dilatory tactics. You heard Senator Pia Cayetano: “Skip the drama.” Take a chill pill and vote already.

Senator Pia Cayetano

The anti-RH lobby clearly doubts the popularity of their position. This is why they want to avoid a vote at all costs. But if this is their idea of how to lead and conduct the legislative process, they clearly have no business holding public office.

And yes, Senator Sotto, despite whatever you may be feeling right now, the entire issue of plagiarism as an ethical breach is not all about “people ganging up on you” but the public office whose public trust and sanctity you insulted. You can still do the right thing simply by not standing in the way of the majority vote. You do not even have to change your Roman Catholic views on contraception. None of you do. Ask Monsignor Bernas, S.J. He has advanced degrees in both Roman Catholic theology and law. You and the anti-RH bunch should read his stuff. In one column, he makes a good case about ‘not burning the house to roast a pig,’ the analogy here being how the minority anti-RH opposition is running roughshod over the democratic process simply because it wants its way. On the other hand, his choice of metaphor can resonate in other meaningful ways as well. The sexist pigs may be having their way now by burning down the house but there is always the next election to make toast of the lot of you. (Well at least most of you).

In the end what is perhaps most infuriating is how after all these years of fighting for gender equality and women’s empowerment in the Philippines, a handful of men in power (egged on by a few men in robes) can still feel justified in imposing their will on the majority of the Filipino population. I have to disagree with Father Bernas on this one. I do not think this is merely acting irresponsibly; it’s downright wicked. (And I don’t mean that in a positive and empowering Elphaba, wicked witch of the west sense). Surely, hiding behind religious freedom and abusing democratic processes to violate the freedom and bodily integrity of women has to land these law makers no less than the ‘choicest’ seats in the 9th circle of hell by Roman Catholic fire and brimstone standards.

No means no, Senators. Take a hint. Stop all this nonsense now.

Do the honorable thing and accept that you do not have the numbers on this one. For Pete’s sake, give yourselves some dignity (if you have any left) and stop holding the democratic process hostage. I know that this lesson may be tougher for some of you to understand but we can give you the benefit of a doubt and assume you have some sort of learning curve, Senators Trillanes, Honasan and Enrile. Say it with me: Taking hostages: bad, Democratic process: good. You can do it.

As for the clerics who will be displeased and often want to outdo the Pope in Rome, I am sure we can find other things for them to keep busy with apart from constantly obsessing about how to control and interfere with women’s sexual and reproductive decision making. Really they ought to get a life. There are so many worthwhile things for Catholic clerics to do. Ask the nuns who are usually busier doing social justice and charitable work rather than constantly imagining Armageddon when people have sex for other reasons besides procreation. Is it even right for priests who supposedly have a vow of celibacy to be this sex obsessed anyway? How about helping the Vatican take serious steps to address sex abuse cases? Anyway, take a step back and take deep breaths. That ship has sailed. Women have rights and no, you can’t take them back. They are not for you grant nor to take away. You know very well that your days are numbered. And this is why you refuse to play fair.

Somebody should take it easy on the PDE5 inhibitor. Down,  old boy.

Disclosure: I have been trying to figure out a way to write about this issue again for quite a while now. Inspiration struck when I read parts of Senator Pia Cayetano’s speech. Suffice to say; I could feel her rage and infuriation on facebook of all places! My mirror neurons got quite a work out. This one just took all of thirty minutes for me to write (hyperlinking included). And is it just me or is that background music on the Viagra (which is type of phosposphodiesterase type 5 inhibitor) website kind of sleazy? 


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