COTANGENT – By Daphne Cardillo
A noted columnist in one of our national dailies lamented that he has a problem with the “reduction of women into sex objects” as alluded to in the ads. In the fight for human rights, the phrase has been widely used by well-meaning individuals and cause-oriented groups to the point of triteness.
My problem is in the plain hypocrisy in pronouncing that women should not be reduced into sex objects – as if they were once goddesses placed on pedestals or simply treated as equals to men. There is always this deception of trying to present what actually is with what ought to be.
History tells us that women were at any point in time treated as sex objects. They still are. But as we try to make ourselves more human and civilized, the status of women gradually improved. Yet waging a cultural revolution in a few years time will only make monsters out of humans, more deformed and warped as what Mao Tse Tung did or Hitler for that matter.
At least in the family system women evolved from mere properties of men to property custodians – tagabantay ng bahay, anak, kayamanan, at pangalan. Some are even acquiring partnership status. While others are gaining more rights and privileges. But still women are not considered equal to men.
The idea of equality between the sexes has already been hatched not only on the spiritual realm as all are created by God but the fact that men and women belong to the same specie. If cultural limitations initially narrowed women into sex objects then the struggle is to reduce the percentage. But that does not stop there. Women must be regarded as persons with equal rights and privileges as men; in the home, in the workplace, and in the society at large.
Now the suggestion that media is supposed to protect the country’s morals is very dangerous. That would counter media’s role as public speaker, not preacher, and as the ad goes, curtail “the right to choose.” Let freedom of expression be maintained but protecting the country’s morals is the role of the school and the church.
But media should be more wary of its effects on the people’s consciousness and the resulting cultural atmosphere it creates. With the lack of social research not yet proving a direct correlation between media exposure to crimes as a cause for criminal acts does not mean that the influence does not exist. Look how advertisements boost sales.
When you read reports of rape on the paper once or a few times that is news — and good enough. The reports will cause alarm or even a scare. The people will become aware of a situation that needs to be checked and solved. But when ordinary citizens hear reports almost every day of their lives children and women raped and killed — the events will cease to be news – but as mere facts and realities of life to be accepted and understood. The concept of rape as a heinous crime becomes neutralized. The issue becomes technical, iilan na at paano ginahasa at pinatay; plain statistics.
Information on people’s aberrations should be kept to professionals who are working to study and remedy the situation; the doctors, social workers, the social scientists and researchers, and the law enforcers.
Yes the public needs to know but when media reports 100 rebels killed the issue becomes different when news of four rebels maimed, hacked, blood spots lining on the road and other gory details of killing in a military encounter is being circulated. As in rape cases, graphically describing the lurid details of the crime violates the victim’s privacy. Media could even glamorize the acts as a form of art (talk of freedom of expression.) Other spectacles of violence in its depraved form whether true or fiction should be banned.
Really, irresponsible exposures only make people believe that incomprehensible acts can now be realized. The effect does not make the ordinary public immoral but perilously amoral. Not even legal – pag walang sabit, eh di, lusot. And de-sensitized.
Maybe media should be more vigilant in evaluating itself as it does to society; and avoid becoming more of an agent of destruction than a voice of reason.