Decoding the Context

The year is 2019. The year of gender equality.

The men in fashionable stilettos are marching the streets of the metro. Showbiz personalities and good-looking ones are leading the way. It truly is tiring advocacy. But in the name of women’s rights, the marchers would not mind the heat and sweat. The media has ready the perfect angle of the story. Its banner reads: The women own the streets.

The group will soon converge with another mobilized army of gender rights’ defenders. This time, with men and women of colors and of different sexual orientations. They too are joined by celebrities and social media influencers – those with thousands and millions of Twitter followers. Their hairs are dyed. Their faces are as smooth as the still white sky. Their bodies are tightly built. The man is kissing a man. And so are the women. The rainbow flag is waved. The media then proclaims: Love wins.

Is this the end of the year of the man? The likes of Rodrigo Duterte and Donald Trump may wonder.

Let them be reminded that it’s 2019. The year of gender equality where individuality matters the most. Each individual is unique. One’s sexual orientation calls for a celebration. One’s gender forms one’s identity.

Gender as identity becomes the capital of social involvement. Without identity, there can never be any involvement. It is a way, in fact, a very special way, to deliver a promise of life-changing activism. This genre of activism is filled with festive celebration. There should be no violence, only peace. We must not hate, but love. We are all equal in the eyes of our own gods and goddesses. Who would have the guts to blame the media for seeing such activism as the flavor of the times? It sounds progressive and critical, yet its demands – peace, love, equality – are all decent and safe compared with calls like Down with bureaucrat capitalism.

In fact, the media never fail to “genderize” its news and human interest stories. The struggle may be real, as these stories would show. When demands such as gender recognition and gender equality become unpopular, the obvious blame goes to the backwardness of society. Thus, putting forward the convenient choice of opening up and liberalizing that society’s way of life.

The context surrounding the lack of recognition and equality is crashed. It is replaced by the mantra of Me, Myself and I triumphantly indoctrinated in our houses, schools, churches and the media. We cannot be of help to others if we cannot first help ourselves. Exactly, how many times have we heard this line from the news, celebrity shows, and star-studded movies? As if the personal can never be part of the collective. Or, as in the language of the classic old days, as if the personal can never be political.

Gender is special. Its special-ness goes with a self-imposed entitlement: We are we because of our sexuality; We are we because of our courage to open up; We wear pride. It is detached from and untouched by the violent forces of hunger, unemployment, corporatization, neoliberalism, fascism, communist-tagging, corruption, class patronage, the war on drugs, and anti-immigration.

So if we may be reminded once more that in 2019 and beyond, the name of the game remains to be freedom and democracy, not identity politics. (davaotoday.com)

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