The Internet exploded in hate, again, over the engagement of stylist Liz Uy to Raymond Racaza over Instagram. The hate, quite predictably, was directed at Uy, rather than at Racaza—mostly because the Twitter and Instagram users who spoke harshly of them both focused most of their hate on Uy, calling her a home-wrecker, a kabit, and a cheater.
Let’s put this right here, up top: Breaking one’s wedding vows is never right—breaking a promise never is. But in cases of infidelity, no one person among those consensually committing the infidelity is more or less culpable than his or her cohort—because it takes at least two to tango in what constitutes sexual infidelity. So why did Uy receive the bulk of the hate while Racaza got mere drizzles of censure? Good old misogyny is alive and well in the Philippines, that’s why.
The newly-affianced couple have a three year-old son, and yes, Uy could quite possibly have been pregnant with their child while Racaza was married to his ex-wife, a rheumatologist at PGH who, if one goes by all the posts against Uy, deserves beatification for putting up with her husband’s cheating ways.
When a woman’s husband cheats on her, her dignity is shredded with unthinking pity while undercurrents of “she must have been too busy to take care of that mindless man, so he found his satisfaction elsewhere” ripple beneath all the statements of support for She Who Was Wronged.
This is one telenovela-worthy drama that has been soaked in the camphor and brine of digital bitterness and broadcast across social media. You also see just how deeply rooted the ideologues of the patriarchy are, even among the internet-savvy denizens of Twitter and Instagram. Perhaps Uy’s haters are venting their frustrations on the nearest available target. Perhaps they have nothing better to do than to stand in holier-than-thou McJudgments.
In the Philippines, when a man is unfaithful, he’s simply being a male. It is toxic machismo, this thinking that “boys will be boys,” and that it is but natural to stick one’s pole in any available hole, and eminently excusable since that is his pole to stick where he pleases. So human males should come with the warning label “self-control not included,” then?
When a woman is party to a faithless male’s flouting his wedding vows (does “forsake all others” ring a bell?) as the person with the hole where his pole goes, she is painted scarlet with insults, pilloried, nailed to a cross. When a woman’s husband cheats on her, her dignity is shredded with unthinking pity while undercurrents of “she must have been too busy to take care of that mindless man, so he found his satisfaction elsewhere” ripple beneath all the statements of support for She Who Was Wronged.
The man is seen, then, as stupid, unable to control his “baser” urges as an evil tempress pulls him away from his powerless, and witless, wife. So, is everyone in this scenario a one-dimensional bullseye for the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, or is the howling crowd simply doing its mindless thing and engaging keyboard digits before putting their hive mind into gear?
For a country that likes to boast of a high literacy rate, and a “progressive” environment for women, such primitive thinking is painfully prevalent. No wonder rape, rape jokes, sexual harassment and gender discrimination still happen in this benighted archipelago. And it isn’t just the men who perpetuate such sexist and derogatory treatment of women. Other women encourage it, perpetuate it, pass it on to their communities and their families.
Despite being one of only two countries in Southeast Asia that are predominantly Christian, the Philippines is certainly unforgiving.
A 2019 United Nations report showed the Philippines had the highest literacy rate, at 97.95 percent, among Southeast Asian countries like Singapore, Brunei and Indonesia—98.9 percent among females and 97 percent among males aged 15 to 24 years.
That literacy rate, sad to say, does not translate into an intelligent conversation about gender-equality, either.
We need to stop, and think before we say anything about anyone in public. The only people truly affected by this storm in a Twitter cup are the people directly involved in the situation: Racaza, his ex-wife, his wife-to-be, and their children. The rest of the world may have much to say, but they aren’t the decision-makers, or the people living those people’s lives.
The government can keep boasting about the forward strides made toward making the Philippines a place where women are equal to men. But, until we Filipinos actually put ourselves on such equal footing in word and deed, we aren’t there yet, and this mentality about kabits, home-wreckers, and husbands who can’t keep it in their pants shows us that immature face of ours in a harsh mirror, darkly. Would you like fries with your double standards, hypocrite?
Banner image by Pixabay via Pexels