In what sick, twisted world does a 19-year-old woman get gang raped, only to be blamed for it right after? Sadly, the answer is this one.
In the February 19 episode of Umagang Kay Ganda, while reporting on said criminal act, host Anthony Taberna focused his energy on enumerating all the victim’s actions, which in his eyes, led to her eventual rape. Nakipag-eyeball siya. EB, kung tawagin in local parlance. She sat around with a bunch of men. Shared a few drinks with them, maybe. Tumagay. Tumungga. Nakisama. But then we can only imagine what happened right after. We can only conjure images in our own heads of what she felt, of what she probably had to endure.
Hot, booze-laced breath on her face as she was mounted. Held down. Penetrated more than once against her will. Too weak from the liquor to get in a punch or a kick to the balls. She was, after all, outnumbered.
These are not the actions of a decent man, Anthony Taberna. These are not the actions of a decent barkada of men. When a young girl joins you for drinks, you offer to take her home safely when the last bottle has been finished, not forcefully take off her panties.
The problem with statements and opinions like Anthony Taberna’s is, not only do they paint men as inherently animalistic beings who can’t keep their schlongs in their pants, it also strips them of any accountability for the crimes they’ve committed. Tangina naman. Na gang-rape na nga yung babae, papangaralan mo pa. It’s salt in the wound. It’s emotional rape all over again. It’s just wrong. It’s not her fault. The thought-fuel that drives victim-blaming is that men are predators, but women as the prey should know better. Where is the logic in that? “Boys will be boys” is not a sound enough argument, nor one we should even be considering in the first place. Boys should know better. Boys should know that rape is very wrong and very bad and very damaging. The unapologetic nature of a man’s victim-blaming is what makes it so toxic in the first place.
You’ve also probably heard it from your own mothers, or that annoying tita whose medieval sensibilities are just too pervasive in society to squash and destroy and throw into the abyss where they belong. Ang mga babae hindi dapat nakikipag-inuman—it’s not very ladylike. Ang iksi kasi nung shorts niya—she deserved it. Or in Taberna’s own words: Kapag ikaw ay babae, huwag kang papasok sa lungga ng mga tulisan—something he probably overheard from his own mother or own annoying tita. Women who victim-blame propagate the problem because now it becomes an issue of shame and propriety. All one needs to do to see the normalization of victim-blaming is read the comments section of any of the stories written about this current issue.
Instead of constantly conditioning women to be wary and guarded, what about teaching young boys that they should respect women, regardless of how they dress or act or choose to present themselves? Na kapag nakipag-EB ka sa babae, you’re not automatically entitled to sexual intercourse. Their sexuality is theirs and theirs alone to do with what they please. That if a woman happens to be the sole female drinking with a number of dudes, it does not make her a whore or a harlot or an individual who was asking for it.
There needs to be a miseducation in our culture. An unlearning. For too long now, we’ve told off and scolded women for being victims when people like Anthony Taberna, whose preachy tone reaches a national audience, are a huge part of the problem. Because a man who rapes a woman is a rapist. Men who gang rape a 19-year-old girl are criminals. There should be no gray area if proven guilty.
As men, you should be angry because this concerns you, too. Mad at such callous and careless comments, which have yet to be apologized for by the party in question.