The #MeToo Movement Is Not Working In The Philippines And Here’s Why

Celebrities and prominent personalities are posting their support of the #MeToo movement online. But it seems that some Filipinos aren’t entirely on board with it.

The #MeToo movement is in support of those who are victims of sexual violence. The movement started in 2006, founded by a young social worker named Tarana Burke. #MeToo helps these survivors, especially the women of color in the US, to feel that they are not alone through the empathy of the supporters of the movement. But this is more than just a hashtag. It’s a support system for survivors to heal and a bridge for the advocates to form a community against sexual violence.

Celebrities like Lady Gaga, Reese Witherspoon, Viola Davis, Lupita Nyong’o, and Jennifer Lawrence spoke up about the movement. Even one of the most influential women in the US, Michelle Obama, talked about gender equality on the “Today” Show. She said, “I think it’s up to the women out there to say, ‘Sorry that you feel uncomfortable, but I’m now paving the way for the next generation,'” she said.

However, even though #MeToo is constantly making waves online, there are still those who wish to debunk the purpose of the movement. Just today, Pamela Anderson aired in 60 Minutes Australia and mentioned that the Me Too movement is “a bit too much.” She went on to say that the third wave of feminism ‘paralyzes men. ‘ She even told the women that “some things are just common sense” when it comes to preventing yourself from sexual harassment.

In the Philippines, the goal of #MeToo gets invalidated and brushed off when women need their support the most.

Just today, the candidates of Miss Earth aired their testimonies about the on-going sexual harassment issue in the pageant industry. What’s more disappointing is that Filipino men are their offenders; those who are supposed to make our visitors from all over the world feel comfortable and welcome in our country.

Related: Miss Earth 2018 Candidates Open Up To Being Harassed In The Philippines For The Pageant

Filipinos online are blaming these candidates for the situation they ended up in. Some of the comments even insinuate that being violated and degraded in pageants is normal.

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However, it’s not the first time that media organizations have been labelled as offenders. Last month, Gretchen Fullido opened up about the realness of sexual abuse in the media industry

The ABS-CBN anchor filed a case against her bosses and producers. What’s sadder is that all her alleged offenders are women. After her attempt of coming out, nobody else spoke up about her alleged predators in the media industry.

The media is the most vulnerable place for victims

A study by the Center for Talent Innovation found that the media industry has the highest incidence of sexual harassment among all industries. This is because the media is a relationship-driven industry. Employees need to click well with their bosses and feel present in order to get royalty and rewards from their superiors. In Gretchen Fullido’s case, her bosses and producers asked her sexual favors in exchange for a better relationship with her superiors. In her statement, she said that it went on for three years.

The thing is, Filipinos lack awareness and sympathy for the victims. We are still living in a backwards-moving society where women should be protecting themselves from their possible offenders instead of educating these offenders that rape and sexual assault is wrong, no matter what circumstances. It will never be because of the clothing that we wear nor the places we go to. As long as there is manipulation or the lack of consent, it is still sexual harassment.

Related: Senate Passes Bill To Penalize Cat-Callers And Street Harassers

Until today, Filipinos are afraid to come out and tell their stories of sexual harassment because they are being victim-blamed

We are still afraid to say #MeToo because people keep doubting us. But we should keep in mind that staying silent could enable our offenders to assault more people. If you are looking for the right time to speak up, then the time is now. Let’s do it together because if there’s anything we learned from previous movements, it’s that working together makes us powerful than we could ever imagine.

Let’s make our country a better place to live in for our daughters, nieces, and granddaughters.