Tito Sotto said something sexist. Again. Afterone strike too many, it’s safe to say that we have with us a male chauvinist pig for a senate president.
During a debate on the Senate Bill No. 1326 or the Safe Spaces bill, which acts on “unwanted comments, gestures, and actions forced on a person in a public space without their consent and is directed at them because of their actual or perceived sex, gender, gender expression, or sexual orientation and identity,” Tito Sotto once again revealed a deep sense of entitlement over women.
Wishing to clarify which acts can be considered as harassment, he addressed the bill’s sponsor, Sen. Risa Hontiveros, saying, “For example, ‘yung sinabi ko na binibiro lang, hinipuan na ganun (the one I mentioned about copping a feel merely as a joke), will they be liable? You said yes, the answer I think is no.”
The message was too outlandish, it begged reactions, but the speaker didn’t really come as a surprise anymore. Between a senate president who arrogantly admits he doesn’t think there’s anything wrong with copping a feel, and a president who casually makes rape jokes, I’m genuinely at a loss, thinking about how we’ve managed to survive this far.
We’ve already covered how jokes should never be considered a valid cop out for sexual harassment, because it tends to normalize the malicious behavior; that by owing it to the “harmless” intent of joking, it becomes another case of undermining the victim’s experience. It’s not, and never will be, okay. This has been explained time and again, by multiple netizens and personalities who have shared their experiences; countless articles were already written about it.
But I guess Tito Sotto doesn’t really care.
To Sotto’s comment, Hontiveros answered, “The possibility of abuse should not prevent us from seeking, in fact, to pass the best laws we can. Ang babaeng hinipuan ng lalake, hindi po namin yun tinatanaw na biro (A woman who is felt up by a man doesn’t consider it as a joke) because that truly makes women feel unsafe,”
According to GMA News, when asked for a reaction regarding the backlash his comment received, Sotto merely said, “It was a question. They should find out what’s true before they judge people,” and shrugged the whole issue off, claiming, “I do not want to pay attention to judgmental people.”
I can’t help but feel frustrated with his answer. And I don’t want to be. Because clearly, that’s what he wants. But seriously, how can you not feel upset? The man is clearly too deeply rooted in prejudice. The fact that he doesn’t regard the opinion of his constituents means he doesn’t deserve his position. Like the president, he keeps making excuses for himself. He never listens to critics, and he never accepts his mistakes, no matter how absurd they can be. (Remember the plagiarism issue and how he somehow managed to convince himself he’s right about that too?) It’s an old tune; one I’m too tired of hearing. For once, I would like to hear an apology from him.
As long as people like him have a seat in the office, we, as a nation, still have a long way to go.
Art by Marian Hukom
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