Women Talk Back: We Are Not All Vagina

The role of women in Philippine media from the years before the EDSA people power revolt to the present 

“Dal-a na. Ingna ang mga sundalo. Ingna sila ang mga sundalo. ‘Ah, unsa man nang babae.’ Ingna sila. Tawga run ang mga sundalo. ‘Order bag-o ni mayor. Di lang daw mo patyon. Pusilon lang mo sa bisong arong—’ Og wa na ma’y bisong, wa na ma’y silbi (Bring that. Tell the soldiers. ‘There’s a new order coming from mayor. We won’t kill you. We will just shoot your vagina, so that …’ If there is no vagina, it would be useless),” , said President Rodrigo Duterte to  the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP)

Rep. Emmi de Jesus says that Duterte’s nasty remark openly encourages violence against women, contributes to the impunity on such, and further confirms himself as the most dangerous macho-fascist in the government right now.  He has further presented himself as the epitome of misogyny and fascism terribly rolled in on.

The assertion of Mr. Duterte yet again represents woman as an object; that a woman only carries significance if she is capable of reproduction; that a woman is of value in the prism of limiting her agency as mere sexual object.   Duterte’s remarks on women stems from the Philippines’ feudal-patriarchal and imperialist structure. Duterte and the ruling class benefit from a system that abuses and exploits the majority of Filipinos, keeping them in poverty. This explains why many Filipinos, including women, join the New People’s Army, to engage in armed struggle for genuine liberation for the Filipino people.

So what is the role of women in media to counter the misogynistic remarks? How far  do women still have to go in order to achieve real gender parity?

The panel of women and journalists of distinction, grace, and achievement shared the role of women in Philippine media:  Cheche Lazaro, Jo-Ann Maglipon, Ma. Ceres P. Doyo, Melinda Quintos de Jesus. Chuchay Molina-Fernandez, Ces Orena-Drilon, Kara David, and Jo Clemente.

Here are some of their thoughts

Jo-Ann Maglipon: The media, every strongman … believes he must own it. If not own it, control it and if not that, destroy it.

Cheche Lazaro : Pressure and the chilling effect and censorship did not end when the Marcoses left. The pressure continued..  We must never let go if the ability to hold the line and the ability to push back and say we will not take this sh*t.

Melinda Quintos de Jesus: I am not afraid and that has come back to me now to remind me how fear is such a strict enforcer for the support of the status quo.

Chuchay Molina-Fernandez:Press freedom is not just for journalists. Its oxygen is the continuing desire of the people to exercise their right to know At all times, self regulation is the best way for free mass media sector and any intervention that govern the practice of journalism is unacceptable

Kara David: Malayo na ang narating ng mga babaeng mamamahayag ngayon. Pakiramdan ko na napakaswerte ko dahil marami na ang narating ng Filipina sa larangan ng media. here are always two sides to who we are.

Nakakalungkot ngayon na pinagtatawanan ang pambabastos. Suddenly it’s cool. Bastos is not funny. It is not cool.

Jo Clemente: There are always two sides to who we are. If you are assertive to your right as a woman and as a journalist, less likely na mababastos ka. Attack is not just on women journalists per se but on journalists in general … At the end of the day, I still believe the Filipino audience is smart. Alam nila ang totoo sa peke.


women in media

PCIJ co-organized  this forum with the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility (CMFR), the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP), and the Philippine Press Institute (PPI), in cooperation with the UP College of Mass Communication Student Council.