Who’s Afraid of Vaginas?
DUTERTE AND THE WOMEN HE’S TRYING TO SILENCE
TWO YEARS in office, President Rodrigo Duterte has joked about rape, insulted women and teased ladies with sexual innuendos. In many occasions, women groups called him out for these remarks. But these have not affected his popularity among his supporters, men and women alike.
During his campaign in 2016, people got a sharp taste of Duterte’s chauvinism when he joked about the rape of an Australian missionary who was killed in the Davao hostage crisis in 1989. The audience, many of whom were women, laughed and clapped. There was a brief backlash but that did not stop him from winning the presidential race.
That sexist remark was just the start of many expressions of Duterte’s misogynistic tendencies (See: “How to Get Away with Machismo: An Easy Pass for Duterte”). The latest was his order to shoot female rebels in their vaginas, because without this, he said, they would have no power.
His sexist remarks have included women critical of his administration. In a Reuters report on September 2017, Duterte’s sister, Jocellyn, said that his brother is chauvinist: “When he sees a woman who fights him, it really gets his ire” (See: “All the president’s women: Duterte’s fiercest critics and a surly political heir”).
Criticism does not sit well with the President, especially if these are from women with voice and power. Through time, he has antagonized women in public office, in media and even those in national and international organizations – women who had the “balls” to point out what is wrong about the administration and its programs.
Duterte’s response now goes beyond just another sexist remark. What he wants to do is to silence them.