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Featured Post: Katrina Villanueva of GENDERS A55

One of the best work from my students by far!

Women and Rape

The concept of “Feminism” can be used to explain a political, cultural/social, or economic movement that is designed for establishing equality of the sexes, activism, and legal protection mainly for women. The said concept includes theories that are political and sociological and even philosophies that deals with issues of gender difference, gender equality and campaigns for the rights and interests of women. The history of the feminist thought can be divided into three waves. As what was stated by Maggie Humm and Rebecca Walker, the three waves started from the 18th and early 20th centuries, wherein the movement was mainly to liberate women legally, economically, and politically.[1]During the first wave was the time when the 19th Amendment was approved and women were already given the right to vote. The first-wave feminists came from all parts of theideological spectrum, i.e. Libertarian, Christian conservative, Socialist, and Anarchist. Meanwhile, the second wave was during the 1960s and 1970s. The focus was about the increasing economic chance for and in stopping social discrimination against women. Leftists dominated this wave, unlike those in the first one. Feminist thought has been developed more in recent times, starting from the second wave, wherein it was focused more on an educated approach. Lastly, the third wave started from the 1990s up to now. This wave continued the issues the second wave focused on, like the reproductive rights, gay and transgender rights, abolition of sexism and racism, economic quality and social justice for women and other groups treated as inferiors, and environmentalism.[2] We could say that the theory of feminism has extended through time from these feminist movements.

Basically, what feminism is trying to do is to examine the status of both men and women in the society, which will be mainly for the benefit of women. Feminist theorists have also started to investigate the differences between women, as well as how race, class, ethnicity, and age are interconnected with gender. Feminism may be considered as a tool for uniting all women, and giving a voice to them, as well as giving importance or recognition to their contribution to the society. There are actually four main types of feminist theory, namely gender differences, gender inequality, gender oppression, and structural oppression. I will not be discussing each four of them, but will at least try to give a hint on what they are all mainly about, and that is explaining the societal differences between men and women.[3]

With the movie we watched in class, entitled “Insiang,” I think the said issue regarding the societal differences between women and men and the recognition of the contribution of women in the society were shown. First, I’d start with a brief background to what the movie is all about. So, the movie was mainly about Insiang, Tonya (her mother), Dado, and Bebot. Insiang’s father has abandoned them already, and since then, her mother started mistreating her. When her mother got rid of her father’s relatives from their house, Dado then started to move in with them. Dado, who was Tonya’s live-in partner, loves Insiang. On the other hand, Insiang has a boyfriend, Bebot. That is why Dado used his power to stop Bebot from seeing Insiang.

One night, when Tonya was still sleeping, Dado raped Insiang. The following morning, Insiang told her Mom about what happened, but unfortunately Dado twisted the story and told Tonya that he was just seduced by Insiang.  This is where I think I would first like to focus on. Well actually, there were two issues that struck me most. But first, I would like to raise the issue regarding the part where it was showed how the female victim who got raped was considered as the one at fault for what happened to her. Dado told Insiang’s mother that it was not his fault that he got teased because of the way Insiang dresses and behaves. As for the second issue, it was also illustrated in the movie how men are viewed as the only way for women to escape their lives. Even before Insiang got raped, she already wanted Bebot to marry her because she believes that he is the only way she can get away from home. Then after the incident, Insiang was already desperate so she asked Bebot to run away with her again as she believes that he’s her only hope now and that he could help her forget everything that happened to her. Unfortunately, Bebot only acted as if he was going to help Insiang to get what he wants from her. After they had sex, he just left her in a motel without even saying anything to her. Insiang, having no other choice, decided to go back to their house and live with her mother and Dado again. Only this time, she was already plotting her revenge. The story ends up with Bebot dead because of Dado, and Tonya put into jail for killing Dado. [4]

From the said movie, it was clear how the differences between both men and women are pretty much evident during those times. I’m not sure if it is proper to say that the inequality between men and women was “already” apparent during those times, or if it was “still” apparent. I guess I can only be sure of one thing, and that is the fact that both men and women have long been regarded and treated unequally. This is where the feminist movement comes in. To discuss this more clearly, I’ll also discuss the article, “I am Angry because you are Unjust,” which also shows how women are considered less than men. It was stated in the article how our culture bears down on women. There’s already this role given to women like being obedient and pure until they marry, and the caregivers of the family, which directs how society acts towards women and how women also perceive their selves to be. Moreover, in the said article, there were different stories about the hardships of Filipino women, especially the housewives from Tondo. The fact that they were already poor is not the only thing that makes them less fortunate, but also the fact that they areonly women.

This political and social role given to women has its roots from biology.  Beauvoir even concluded, “Woman is womb.”  From this we could say that women were only interpreted as a body, which defines them as less autonomous than men, or be considered as “the other.” Moreover, women being interpreted only as a body also entails that a woman essentially has the quality of suffering. But the women In Tondo refuses to agree to these answers to the question, “What is a Woman?”[5] Going back to the movie Insiang and to the two issues I’ve raised, it is clear how there is an unequal treatment to men and women, right? So, with the first issue I’ve noticed in the movie, it was the woman who got raped that was regarded as the one at fault for what happened to her. Thing is, Insiang is not the only one who has experienced this, but there are plenty of other women in reality who are always blamed for getting raped, just because.

First off, what is rape? Sexual health, according to the World Health Organization, is the “integration of the physical, emotional, intellectual and social aspects of sexual well being in ways that are enriching and that enhance personality, communication and love.” And perhaps the most apparent problem to sexual health is rape, which is a well-recognized risk factor for a range of physical, reproductive, medical and psychosocial health problems that might lead to immediate or long-term outcomes.[6] Rape is defined as the “act of forced penetration of any bodily orifice accomplished by the use of force, the threat of force or without force when the survivor is unable to physically or mentally give her consent.”[7]Moreover, as stated in Article 266-A of the Philippine Anti- Rape Law of 1997, rape is committed: (1) by a man who shall have carnal knowledge of a woman under any of the following: a. through force, threat, or intimidation; b. when the offended party is deprived of reason or otherwise unconscious; c. by means of fraudulent machination or grave abuse of authority; and d. when the offended party is under twelve years of age or is demented, even though none of the circumstances mentioned above be present.; and (2) by any person who, under any of the circumstances mentioned in paragraph 1 hereof, shall commit an act of sexual assault by inserting his penis into another person’s mouth or anal orifice, or any instrument or object, into the genital or anal orifice of another person.[8]

                  There are many cases wherein rape victims or women were the ones who were blamed for what happened to them that even the survivors blame their selves for this. There’s this common victim-blaming argument, which gives the example of you crossing a busy intersection without checking first if there’s any car on both ways. If doing so, most probably you’ll get hit by a car thus it can be said that you are indeed the one responsible for getting hit by a car because you unsafely crossed the street. Same goes to a woman for example, who went out drinking and got drunk and raped afterwards. That woman should also be at fault because it was her choice to go out drinking, which led to her getting raped.[9]  

What the instances like the one mentioned above states is that girls shouldn’t drink too many, go out alone, wear revealing clothes, or do anything that would put their selves in danger and to avoid provoking men. This does make sense in some way, but still, we couldn’t say that the rapists raped a woman only by accident, right? Using the example used above, the driver of the car that hit you when you crossed the street unsafely can only be considered as an accident. Perhaps he/she didn’t have much time to hit the brakes or something. But we couldn’t say the same for a rapist, can we? It’s not like the rapist could reason out that he accidentally inserted his penis into the girl because she was wearing a skirt or something. The rapist had a choice not to rape, so these kinds of incidents shouldn’t be blamed solely to girls for how they act or dress. Just like in Insiang, Dado pointed out that he’s only human and he can’t help it if he got seduced with how Insiang dresses and acts. Unfortunately, Insiang’s mother believed Dado and got mad to insiang for being “malandi.” This is exactly the problem, because people are so busy blaming rape victims for the way they act, the choices they make, and the dresses they wear that they forgot that there is also a need for educating men on how they should control their feelings and emotions to avoid committing such crime.

According to a study of Ignacio and Perlas in 1995 on Filipino victims, before the rape and even right before they were raped, these women did no evident step to fight or escape from the attack. Although many of them admitted that they actually had the feeling that they were going to get raped, still, they did not do anything to fight or escape. Meanwhile, during the actual rape per se, victims said that they have been passive due to the effect of a drug or they got too drunk, which made it impossible for them to fight and use violence against their attacker. That is why after the rape, most victims suffer from self-blame. Physiologic and emotional reactions were the most common behaviors of the victims after the incident, wherein victims blame themselves for their careless behaviors, and also see their selves as worthless.[10] This belief that woman may have invited the attack either consciously or unconsciously, has caused people to give little sympathy for the rape victim. According to Lerner, many people are biased to believe in a “just world,” which essentially states that most people believe other individuals get what they deserve according to how good or bad they are. The belief that the victim may have acted in a way to provoke the attacker also follows.[11] 

Victims of rape need to do a lot of things in order to forget such a traumatic experience. Most likely, women seek help from men because they believe that they are their only hope. As seen from the movie Insiang, she thought that she didn’t have any other choice to escape but through Bebot. She wanted to elope with him and even promised to do anything for him just so he would agree. She did this because she, herself, believed that men are better than women. She knew that she needed help from him to survive and recover. What she should have was to go away from home and live on her own. She has the abilities to do so on her own. She could have left home and looked for another one and then continue doing laundry or find a job. She didn’t have to go to Bebot and ask help from him, because she should’ve believed that she can on her own, provide for herself and recover. According to McKinnon, what started the Feminist movement is the recognition that the male power is real. In reality, we believe men to be the dominant one thus we see men as everything. When in truth, we are all the same. Women aren’t to be considered less than men, but it’s equal. This realization follows certain ways for women to cope with reality. In application, women who were raped follows ways in order to deal with their aggression and pain, but it need not be through the help of men. The first way is through invitation, wherein a woman needs to feel that she is accepted and accepted.[12] As stated earlier, women who survived rape suffer from self- blame. This is where the help, opinions and reactions of the family, friends, or the whole community are needed.[13] From this, a woman could be comfortable with her pain that would be the start for her to be able to accept her fate and continue with life. The second way is through remembering, wherein it is required to go back and recollect everything she has been through. By doing so, David Michael Levins believed that she would feel a need to regain herself, coming from the intensity of her pain. In remembering such traumatic experience, numbness might be inevitable in order to deal with the torture of recollecting the memory of a very tragic experience. To be numb will be needed in order to reach acceptance of one’s pain. A woman should be able to go deeper within her and know her fears to be able to be stronger and be full again. The last way is through homecoming. It is important to be open-minded or liberated in order to fully break-free and be fully aware of one’s self or identity.[14]

In reality, many survivors feel guilty for getting raped. Some even helped the rapist in raping them, because there are instances wherein the rapist forces his victim to act like she is enjoying the rape. To avoid getting killed, the victim does so as what the rapist asks of her. There’s this survivor, Nancy Raine, wherein she chose to comply to the rapist in order to save her life. Up to now, this incident still haunts her because she cannot accept her decision to act as if she was enjoying the sex just to live. Many survivors other than her suffer from this, which only proves that there is also a need to help them and teach them the importance of going through the given ways above to understand that it was not their fault someone decided to do such a horrible act to them and that they can still go on with their lives.[15]

Rape and other forms of violence against women, like sexual harassment, sex trafficking/pornography, child sexual abuse, physical abuse, and other domestic violence are not a problem of women alone, but of the whole society.[16] With these issues regarding women and rape, the feminist movement has already made a great impact since it first started. Feminists were the ones who tried and are still continuously trying to change the common belief or thinking that the victims are the ones to be blamed for getting raped. Also, the feminist movement has provided ways to educate women on how they could survive and defend their selves if ever they get attacked. Generally, feminists have had a great impact on how the society treats the issue of rape, and how women themselves protect their selves and recover from such experience.[17]

Given the issues I’ve raised regarding how women are commonly blamed for getting raped and the hardships of women in coping with their aggression and pain shows that there is a need public awareness of the violence and horror of rape as a start to make social change really possible. Feminism could be of great help for Filipinos, or mainly the Filipino women, because this movement calls for the restructuring of society and even gender identities. The acknowledgement of women to the fact that men are dominant than men was the start of the movement. The consciousness to the unequal treatment has started the move against the fight against violence and the oppression to women.  It is true that Filipino women have long been enjoying rights, like the right to education and the right to vote. But is that all Filipino women or even all the women in the world needs? Well, the answer is no. In the society we live in today, there is still this established view on women. We could see this in how the media supports the customary image of women as martyrs, sex objects, mothers, housewives, and as mistresses. Women are still described with inferior roles than men and are mostly depicted as dependent on men, nurturers, submissive and are only concerned more on how they look and leisure.[18] Well, yes, looking on the bright side, women in our country have been given more power and recognition than in other states. But having said this, we still could not say that Filipinas could already fully enjoy equal treatment from the whole Philippine society given the fact that there is still this belief about the societal and political roles that directs how society treats women.[19] The move for the equal treatment and recognition to women is still a battle that we face everyday. It is not enough that we should be contented with what we are experiencing now just because, we Filipino women, are already treated somewhat equally to men than other states. We still have a long way to go in fighting for our rights and in establishing equality and fairness between the gender roles.

 

 

 

 

 


[1] GWANET, “History and Theory of Feminism,” GWANET,http://www.gender.cawater-info.net/knowledge_base/rubricator/feminism_e.htm(accessed February 25, 2013).

[2] Intellectual Takeout, “History of Feminism Theory,” Intellectual Takeout, n.d.,http://www.intellectualtakeout.org/library/sociology-and-culture/history-feminism-theory-feminist-thought (accessed February 25, 2013).

[3] Ashley Crossman, “Feminist Theory an Overview,” About.com,http://sociology.about.com/od/Sociological-Theory/a/Feminist-Theory.htm (accessed February 25, 2013).

 

 

 

[4] Insiang, 1976.

[5] Jeane Peracullo, “I Am Angry Because You Are Unjust: A Filipino Woman’s Awakening to Feminism,” Dalumat Ejournal 1, no. 2 (2010): 62-65.

[6] Projestine Muganyizi, et al., “Rape Against Women: The Magnitude, Perpetrators, and Patterns of Disclosure of Events in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania,” African Journal of Reproductive Health 8, no. 3 (December, 2004): 138.

[7] June Pagaduan-Lopez, et al., “Surviving Rape: Profile and Coping Reactions of Filipino Rape Survivors Seen at the Up-Pgh Women’s Desk” (UP, 1999-2000), 18.

[8] Chan Robles Groups, Republic Act No. 8353: An Act Expanding the Definition of the Crime of Rape, Reclassifying the Same as a Crime Against Persons, Amending for the Purpose Act No. 3815, as Amended, Otherwise Known as the Revised Penal Code, and for Other Purposes., in the Chan Robles Virtual Law Library,http://www.chanrobles.com/republicactno8353.htm#.USy8e6Iwoy4 (accessed February 25, 2013).

[9] Pandora’s Project, “Was It My Fault? Self-Blame and Survivors,” Pandora’s Project,http://www.pandys.org/articles/selfblameandsurvivors.html (accessed February 25, 2013).

[10] June Pagaduan-Lopez, et al., 32-34.

[11] Priscilla White and Judith Rollins, “Rape: A Family Crisis,” Family Relations 30, no. 1 (January, 1981): 104.

[12] Jeane Peracullo, 66.

[13] June Pagaduan-Lopez, et al., 34.

[14] Jeane Peracullo, 66-67.

[15] Pandora’s Project, “Was It My Fault? Self-Blame and Survivors,” Pandora’s Project,http://www.pandys.org/articles/ifyouareraped.html (accessed February 25, 2013).

[16] Ina Alleco Silverio, “Rape, Cases of Violence Against Women On the Rise – Gabriela,”Bulatlat.com, November 9, 2012. http://bulatlat.com/main/2012/11/09/rape-cases-of-violence-against-women-on-the-rise-–-gabriela/ (accessed February 25, 2013).

[17]  Craig Palmer, “Twelve Reasons Why Rape Is Not Sexually Motivated: A Skeptical Examination,” The Journal of Sex Research 25, no. 4 (1988): 512.

[18] Maria Marien, “Feminism and the Present Image of Filipino Women,” A Passerby’s Trail, entry posted October 17, 1996, http://blog.marientech.com/complete-profile/(accessed February 25, 2013).

[19] G. Fitzsimmons, “The Changing Role of Women in Philippine Society,” Helium,http://www.helium.com/items/1105590-role-of-women-in-philippine-society-filipino-women-and-feminism (accessed February 25, 2013).

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