It was an unnecessary question, but Taguiwalo still responded: “My life has never been a normal. I never had a [normal family life] except when I was growing up in Bacolod.” She continued with a short timeline of how she did organizing work in UP during Martial Law, and spent years of her life in prison or underground.
Sotto then said, “In street language… when you have children and you are single, ang tawag ‘dun ay na-ano lang.” Again, followed by laughter in the audience because they thought he was just joking. He then thanked her for her presence in the confirmation hearing.
Today, Gina Lopez was rejected and Sen. Tito Sotto gets away with making fun of single parents.
Seriously, why was this statement greeted with laughter? Why does the senator always think that saying misogynistic things should be considered a joke like he was in a variety show? More importantly, how is being a single mom even a factor in becoming a leader of any department?
Of course, Sotto defended himself in an interview by saying that any question can be asked during a confirmation hearing. He apologized for the question and added, “I will be the last person in this country who would ever disrespect a woman.”
Did you feel your eyes roll at the back of your head? Because I did.
But here’s the thing: the way the question was asked, and how it was received by spectators, is like saying that single mothers shouldn’t be taken seriously. Not to mention that there’s a slight hint of slut-shaming with Sotto’s choice of words. It wasn’t just an insult to Taguiwalo, but to all single moms. To quote Lea Salonga’s tweet, it’s like seeing women as “less than” when they bear children out of wedlock or raised them independently.
For much of my growing-up years, my mother was a single mother. I curse anyone and everyone that sees women like her as "less than."
This can’t be excused as just mere curiosity when Sotto himself admitted that he was surprised after digging up Taguiwalo’s personal info. What made him feel compelled to ask about her family status at a confirmation hearing if not to humiliate her? Intentional or not, we shouldn’t even care about it and respect the fact that these are working just as hard to provide for their children. Period.
Sotto should also know better than saying such things considering that his daughter Ciara is also raising a child on her own.