The Philippine Commission on Women expresses grave disappointment over the commodification or objectification of women in campaign rallies, in light of videos showing women being used as a form of entertainment during sorties. One shows a woman in scanty clothes dancing on stage in a sensual production number. The other shows a candidate telling a woman they will “get married” on stage, an act which prodded the local official present to encourage the former to “kiss the bride”. Thereafter, the candidate held the woman’s face and pretended to be kissing her. The candidate even had the audacity to blurt statements like “”Pwede ba kitang halikan?”, “Walang kulong ‘to” (pertaining to the woman being of legal age), “Takpan mo nga iyang ano mo” (referring to the woman’s chest), and a disclaimer “Wala po akong binabastos na babae dito”.
The PCW condemns these acts that reflect the misogyny and sexism deeply ingrained in this patriarchal society. Instead of treating women with dignity and respect, candidates view and see Juanas as mere objects, “sex symbols”, ways to attract attention and audience, resulting to their dehumanization and further discrimination. Granted that the women “consented” to the acts, this does not erase the fact that these manifest how women are being considered as second-class citizens. Thus, they subject women to submission and control and deem them as inferior beings they can easily touch, look at with lustful gaze, and poke fun at.
Aiming to entertain the audience in a campaign rally is one thing, but to use women for provocative numbers and for degrading comedic stunts is another.
The PCW reminds candidates and the general public that pursuant to the Magna Carta of Women, women must not be portrayed in a discriminatory and derogatory manner. As we strive to change mindsets and raise consciousness on gender equality, we must instead depict women as capable, dignified and talented beings, leaders, and changemakers. We hope that election season and beyond, candidates can show respect for women and the laws protecting them. Instead of asking women to dance and teasing them on stage with a kiss, candidates must use these campaign rallies to ask the plights of women and share their platform targeted to promote gender equality and women’s empowerment. This is what women, and all other genders for that matter, deserve and need.
The PCW calls on all candidates to spend the remaining campaign days to be respectful and gender-sensitive. We also remind the public to scrutinize and observe how candidates treat women during the campaign because this may reflect how women’s issues will be addressed (or not) when they are elected.