Adopt real feminist causes
“What good can we do by empowering women with words and the color pink? What about women who need a safe abortion or women who need to get out of a bad marriage?
Gender has become a key aspect of Leni Robredo’s campaign and public persona. In press articles, “sole presidential candidate” is often associated with Robredo’s name. It’s not hard to find Robredo supporters in the online space declaring that the last man standing will be a woman, or lamenting that Robredo would be supposed to be much more welcomed if she were a man instead of a woman. .
The gender focus of its proponents is not without merit; Robredo herself has made gender, in particular her gender, an important part of her campaign. “Laging sinasabi ng iba, ‘ay mahina ‘yan kasi babae ‘yan,Robredo told supporters in Zamboanga City on January 24. Gender, particularly femininity, has become something closely associated with Robredo’s campaign. It seems Robredo’s biggest obstacle, aside from Marcos, is misogyny.
Robredo has every right to talk about gender. Women in government, as in many other fields, endure struggles and expectations that their heterosexual male counterparts do not experience. However, the focus on gender in Robredo’s campaign begs the question: is Robredo’s campaign feminist?
Robredo has shown questionable positions on relevant issues concerning gender and feminism. Robredo declared herself “anti-abortion,” while giving the politician’s generic response of being “open” to discussion, which doesn’t promise much. Abortion and reproductive health are important topics in the area of women’s rights. Because abortion is illegal in the Philippines, many women resort to unregulated, underground abortion clinics, where many women undergo painful and even botched procedures. In 2020, there were 56,428 registered live births from teenage pregnancies.
Robredo said his faith was the main reason for his opposition to legalizing abortion. But the legalization of abortion only allows women to have this option in complete safety; it does not impose the procedure on reluctant individuals. Regardless of people’s religious faith, abortion procedures continue to be performed in the Philippines, often in dangerous ways due to the illegal status of abortion. Feminist activists have long fought for the decriminalization of abortion in the Philippines, arguing that it would reduce a number of deaths caused by unsafe abortion procedures behind the scenes. It was declared to be a “medical, not a moral” issue.
Robredo is also against legalizing divorce. Instead of the divorce, Robredo said she would like to focus on the accessibility of the annulment. Although both relate to the separation of a married couple, annulment and divorce are different procedures. Obtaining an annulment requires “heavier” reasoning than a divorce; infidelity, physical abuse or abandonment, for example, are not acceptable grounds for cancellation. Aside from the Vatican, the Philippines remains the only country in the world where divorce is not legal.
Robredo said economic empowerment was a bigger factor in helping women escape unwanted marriages, citing wives’ financial dependence on their husbands as a main factor for women stuck in unwanted marriages. desired. But the cancellation remains exorbitant and beyond the financial reach of the most financially stable people. Only the very rich can afford a cancellation that will not last for years and will not drain both finances and energy.
Beyond abortion and divorce, Robredo’s gender platform still seems inadequate. Women’s issues should not be treated as totally separate or distinct from other issues, such as work. In addition to discrimination and sexual abuse, working women endure hardship in the workplace. Robredo herself inadvertently acknowledged this when noting how financial hardship can prevent women from breaking free from abusive or neglectful spouses.
How does Robredo aim to address these issues? Robredo did not talk about the increase in the minimum wage, nor the wage gap between regions. Robredo mentioned ending contracting, but it’s not a key part of her platform, nor has she set out a plan for it. How does Robredo plan to remedy the plight of working women, who also suffer from poverty wages and contractualization?
Women in the LGBTQ+ community are also looked down upon. Regarding same-sex marriage, Robredo is against its legalization; its support extends only to civil unions. LGBT community advocates have explained how a distinction between marriage and civil unions further fuels division. As Filipinos equal to their fellow citizens, LGBTQ+ people should have the same rights. The main argument for banning marriage for same-sex couples is to supposedly preserve the sanctity of marriage, for religious reasons. In a country where our Constitution proclaims the separation of church and state, should we allow religious reasons to dictate laws and interfere with civil rights? Robredo’s stance that same-sex couples should be content with civil unions reveals that his support for the LGBTQ+ community only goes so far as conservative sensibilities can endure.
Women’s rights and gender issues should be considered holistically. What good can we do by empowering women with words and the color pink? What about women who need a safe abortion, or women who have to get out of a bad marriage, or women who are barely surviving on minimum wage? Which women are empowered by Robredo’s campaign and which women are being left behind?
This is a challenge for Leni Robredo: please consider the inclusiveness of your platform. There is still until May 9 to correct the platform and make it more inclusive. If women and gender are truly a key part of Robredo’s platform, then all women should be considered and protected, regardless of class, sexuality and other distinctions. True feminism should stand up for all women, not just middle-class and wealthy women. – Rappler.com
Maria Maranan is an AB History student at Ateneo de Manila University.