What’s Misogyny in Tagalog?By Rodel Rodis
The Tagalog word for it cannot be searched in the Internet which can otherwise provide the translation of any word in any language on earth. The Internet’s dictionary definition of misogyny is a hatred or dislike for women or girls as manifested in acts of discrimination, denigration and violence towards them and in their sexual objectification.
The Spanish word for it, “misogino”, has not been incorporated into the Tagalog lexicon perhaps because the concept of “misogyny” would be alien to a Filipino culture that respects, loves and reveres mothers. More than any other people colonized by Spain, Filipinos have elevated the Blessed Virgin Mary to be the equal of the Holy Trinity.
Unlike Americans who have never elected a woman as head of state, Filipinos have done it twice. Americans also have never had a female Chief Justice of the Supreme Court while the Philippines has one who is serving in that capacity now.
Like democracy, misogyny is Greek in origin, the combination of “miso” (hatred) and “guno” (woman). In 350 BC, Aristotle propagated the view that women were inherently inferior to men. Aristotle believed that in sex, man was the active, ensouling element bringing life to an inert, passive female element. He said that “the courage of a man lies in commanding, a woman’s lies in obeying”.
A century before Aristotle, Socrates taught that if men live immorally, they will be reincarnated as women. Socrates also warned that “one sign of democracy’s moral failure is the sexual equality it promotes.”
More than 2500 years later, Socrates’ misogyny is shared by the Taliban which fiercely opposes any move to educate girls. When a 14-year old girl from the Swat Valley in Pakistan publicly opposed the Taliban’s efforts to deny education to girls, the Taliban marked her for execution. On October 9, 2012, Taliban gunmen boarded a Swat Valley school bus to seek out Malala Yousafzai. If she did not identify herself, all the girls in the bus would be shot, they warned. Malala stood up, a gunman approached her, shot her in the head point blank and then jumped off the bus.
Malala somehow survived although she remained unconscious and in critical condition for almost a week in a Pakistani hospital before she was flown to London for further treatment and rehabilitation. On January 4, 2013, Malala was released to her family after she had sufficiently recovered.
The attempt to silence Malala’s voice backfired. After the Taliban claimed credit for the assassination attempt, a group of 50 Islamic Mufti (clerics) in Pakistan issued a fatwā (edict) against those who tried to kill her.
Former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown launched a United Nations petition (“I am Malala”) calling for all children worldwide to be in school by the end of 2015. U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon declared November 10 to be “Malala Day”.
Unlike in Pakistan and Afghanistan, young girls are universally educated in the Philippines but they are also more susceptible to human trafficking. At a press conference in Manila on November 9, 2012, Joy Ngozi Ezeilo, UN Special Rapporteur on Trafficking in Persons, deplored both the high rate of human trafficking in the Philippines and the low rate of prosecution of its human traffickers. She attributed the problem to poor law enforcement and to crushing poverty both of which allow human traffickers to operate with impunity.
US Ambassador to the Philippines Harry K. Thomas addressed this issue at a packed South San Francisco forum in February of 2012 when he described his experience of working with Philippine authorities to shut down a brothel in Angeles City, Pampanga that provided young girls as prostitutes. The day after it was raided, a local judge issued an order for the brothel to be reopened.
Ambassador Thomas expressed frustration with that experience and with the abject poverty in the Philippines that drives fathers to sell their young daughters to be prostitutes in order to have money to feed their other children.
Because the Philippine Catholic Church opposes contraception and encourages parents to have as many children as they possibly can (“Thou shalt go forth to increase and multiply” is the 11th commandment), parents have been stuck with having more kids than they can afford to feed.
Instead of using contraception or selling daughters into prostitution, both of which the Church condemns equally, another alternative has been offered by Bishop Gilbert Garcera of Camarines Norte. The good bishop encourages his flock to produce daughters he said are destined by God to be the caregivers of the world or to be the “good wives” of foreign men in countries that have low population growth.
Unfortunately, as Special Rapporteur Ezeilo can attest, many Filipino girls are lured into sex trafficking by answering ads for caregivers or mail order brides.
(Send comments to Rodel50@gmail.com or mail them to the Law Offices of Rodel Rodis at 2429 Ocean Avenue, San Francisco, CA 94127 or call 415.334.7800).
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