Machismo and Power of Duterte

Before Presidency

The President of the Philippines, Rodrigo Roa Duterte, has been known to be a misogynist even before he became the head of state of the country. A manifestation of this can be observed during his campaign period, when he joked about a case of a raped Australian nun. He said, “dapat mayor ang nauna” (The mayor should’ve been first) when he was telling a story about the nun who was raped and killed in the year 1989, in Davao. This appalled many netizens who called Duterte out for his careless and discourteous words towards the late nun.

This, however, was not the last. When he was a President-elect, he catcalled Mariz Umali, a reporter, during a press conference before in Davao City. Again, this appalled a lot of citizens and called him out for the same. But he defended his vile acts, providing the excuse that that was just an exercise of his freedom of expression. During that time, catcalling in Davao City was illegal and strictly prohibited. Surprising for someone who was the former mayor of that very city for decades.

During Presidency

Days before he started his official presidency, he was full of promises coming from his mouth. Thus, expectations were also high. Millions expected that he would instantly change from this foul-mouthed macho to a decent gentleman that’s diplomatic and careful at words.

This was one of the first promises that he broke. In less than a month ever since he became President, he remained to be the macho that he is. His cronies have given the lame excuse that the people should not believe his promises as they were mere “jokes.

He became incessant at trying to make misogynist jokes and acts. One of the latest was when he was outside the country, at South Korea, when he kissed a married woman in front of the public and on air. This news sparked outrage not only in the national news but also of that from outside the country. This unthinkable act not only brought his image down as a President — he carried the image of the Philippines as a whole.

The Influence of a Presidential Macho in Context

While Duterte carries the name of the Philippines and its people, it is also worth discussing how he, as the President, influences the people how they act and justify their actions. In the Philippines, Duterte has empowered men to discriminate and degrade a woman’s dignity.

For example, in a school setting, some boys have found power and influence from Duterte in committing acts of sexual assault to women. “Kung ginagawa ng Pangulo, ano namang masama?” (If the President does it, then what is wrong with it?), some would opine. While the logic is ultimately flawed, we cannot deny that Duterte has influenced a lot of men given that he is in a place of power — in a position of influence.

As such, even if he does not take any deliberate misogynist acts, he still takes responsibility for those acts of men and others who believe that they were influenced by Duterte. Regardless of how cruel and strict his policies are when it comes to crimes of sexual abuse, none of those would hold water unless he makes amends to himself and strike chauvinism and machismo out of his character.

Machismo and Oppression

These acts of Duterte remain as forms of oppression towards women — a marginalized sector even up to this moment in time. Being a part of the privileged class, he does not experience these forms of oppression, and thus he views his oppressive acts as mere jokes and entertainment for women; when in reality, those translate to objectification and degradation of women. Further, his oppression is also systemic, as he takes advantage of his supremacy in the social class hierarchy. He uses it to implicitly influence all those below him to follow his immoral acts.

Of course, being in the position of supreme privilege, nothing would appear to wake him up from his wrong acts. Today, we all know that women are much more powerful and stronger than ever. All of women would not want to be oppressed by this chauvinist macho. Thus, we cannot let Duterte remain like this! It is either that we continue to stomach his shoving of power and privilege, or that we take action in taking this person out of his place in power and position of influence!