Not That Kind of Man

I am simply not that kind of man.

Ramon Tulfo, in his latest opinion piece for The Philippine Daily Inquirer, implores and exhorts us to “understand Chavit Singson.”  The news goes that Chavit beat up his live-in partner due to her being unfaithful.  Those are things best left to the courts to decide, but what really irks me – as a Filipino male – was when Mr. Tulfo has this to say:

I’m not saying he’s right, but we should understand him in the context of our macho society.

Any other Filipino man who caught his wife or partner in bed with another man would have acted in the same way Singson did.  Or even worse.

I am not writing this to judge Chavit – again, the courts should and will decide whether Chavit is guilty or not – but I am writing this as a dissenting opinion to Mr. Tulfo’s generalization.  As a Filipino male, I am simply not that kind of man to beat up a woman.

First of all, I think that “context” is the most abused word – and the most convenient excuse – we have for acts of indiscretion and mistakes that affect the future and the well-being of our fellow human beings.  “Context” can never be abused enough, because it is assumed that it always takes place at the personal level.  Yet context is something immanently and eminently social; social actions and social consequences do not exist in a vacuum.  What this all means is that when Chavit allegedly beat up his live-in partner, he has to go through the scrutiny of contexts outside of his own little world.  The world-at-large has determined that Chavit’s alleged actions are not expected of a maginoo – not a macho – culture.  I believe that Mr. Tulfo misconstrues personal belief and context, which are two entirely different things.

Second, Mr. Tulfo assumes that all men will resort to violence in the event their partners cheat on them.  I don’t believe so.  I believe that the measure of a man is not the ability to forgive, but the capacity towards restraint.  Every incident of violence against a woman is looked down upon in Filipino society: no man worth his masculinity can ever respect men trivializing their manhood by beating other people up, especially other women.  We do not beat up other women because it undermines our masculinity and trivializes it.  The terms basagulero, duwag, and walang titi are oftentimes reserved for men who beat up people who do not have the capacity to fight back.  Especially women.

Third, in the short statement, Mr. Tulfo assumes that violence against women can be justified by our “macho society.”  Machismo is valued in Filipino society as it is in any society that is patriarchal, but it can never be a justification for committing violence or hurting any other person.  The laws of our land do not discriminate in terms of gender, sexuality, or any degree or measurement of machismo.  The second precept of laws in civilization – alterum no laedare (harm no other) – assumes that we should never harm other human beings outside of what’s acceptable to our common conscience.  Women’s rights are human rights and there is no reason to violate these by condoning violence against women.  Most of all, no position of power – sexual or social – should ever be used to justify harm, rage, or abuse of power.

No rapist or wife-beater is accepted by society, and even the most trivial incidents of laying aside the smallest degree of chivalry will leave you to disapproval, ostracism, and even jail time.  While there are certain limits that a man should accept, a man should always practice prudence, respect, and value his manhood enough to not lay a hand on a woman in a fit of rage.  In Filipino society, maginoo is far more valuable than macho.

While I respect many of Mr. Tulfo’s opinions, I cannot respect his generalization in this case.  As a Filipino male, I am offended that my own sensibilities are being trivialized by an opinion grounded on anachronistic, ahistorical, unsubstantiated concepts of animalistic machismo.  It’s as if the world-view of men never evolved from the days of cavemen dragging women by their hair, and that the intellectually and morally bankrupt way to discipline women is to commit violent behavior upon them.  Rape, assault, battery, and molestation are crimes because they are the false, misguided, and bankrupt way of asserting power upon women.

As a Filipino male, let me address Mr. Tulfo in saying that if he wishes to generalize the population of Filipino males as potential people who’ll beat up women, he can leave me out of it.  The men I respect the most are people who respect their women enough not to lay a hand on them in anger, to keep themselves composed.  I respect – and I want to be – the kind of man who will not hurt a woman in a fit of rage.

I am simply not that kind of man.

8 thoughts on “Not That Kind of Man

  1. (Chavit speaking through) Tulfo must have been implying that the case fell within the scope of the quasi-absolutory cause provided for in the Revised Penal Code, which imposes a penalty of destierro (go away for six months = a veritable slap on the wrist!) on someone who maims/hurts his wife and her lover if he catches them cheating on him. He does not say, that jurisprudence strictly provides that for that provision to apply the cheating woman must be the cuckolded man’s wife.

    At any rate, the proper implementation of the VAWC Act and the Magna Carta for Women ought to put a stop to that behavior.

  2. Whether you like it or not, such is the prevailing attitude among men in his age group. Ask anyone and they will tell you the same.

    Is it a good thing? Absolutely not.

    Should our generation try and be better men than that? ABSOLUTELY.

    But to deny that the mentality exists, to say that it’s not true, would be to engender the very same attitude that disgusts you, and that is to look the other way.

    Better maybe to deal with the facts and accept that some or most of us were raised that way (if unwittingly), and then you can lay the groundwork for healing.

    1. @francis: i’ll try reading through law books, but as a culture i think we should stop justifying violence against women. 🙂 the VAWC and Magna Carta for Women are clear on that.

      @thegreatest: i’m not denying the mentality as much as i’m saying that it’s not true for everyone, and that mr. tulfo’s generalizations should only apply for some men. just because it’s the prevailing attitude doesn’t make it any more right or correct or that we should accept it. the fact that mr. singson is being condemned in such a harsh manner should be curt and fair warning that our generation and our society should not – and does not – tolerate such kinds of behavior, especially in a culture that upholds “pagka-maginoo.” 🙂

  3. I agree with you.

    Not all men will resort to beat up their wife when they caught them having an affair with another man.

    Tulfo generalized too much.

    His article is a clear message to all Tulfo’s girlfriends, kabits, and wife that they will be punched to death if they were ever caught.

  4. I don’t think I can agree with this. All you need to do to get a FACT CHECK about your generalizations is to look at other Hispanic/Latino countries that share our history (colonized by Spain/macho tradition/etc). Tulfo’s position is very common in those societies. Whether this is a mere outgrowth of general economic feudalism, I’m not sure. Regardless, the parallels are there–regardless of how we’d like to think otherwise about the “new” Pinoy male attitude.

  5. ^:

    You don’t have to, actually, you’re free to disagree. I suggest reviewing your texts before taking on a defensive position based on culture.

    While machismo did spread to us through cultural diffusion, you should also be aware that women’s rights and precepts of justice also spread to us in the same way. Again, I’m not denying the existence of violence against women, it exists. Yet the presence of a cultural fact alone should be enough to justify its existence and persistence. Your other parallel is cultural change; culture does not exist in a vacuum, and it is not frozen in time.

    Side dish: where you got the term “outgrowth of general economic feudalism,” from the blossoms of jacaranda trees? Just curious.

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