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.