Men in Suits

I turn on the T.V. first thing most mornings partly to see what Donald Trump has been up to. And most mornings, there he is, surrounded by 15 to 20 other men, white men all, and all in suits.  And they are not doing good for the world, especially not for women.  I don’t like to see men in suits.

There has been a global resurgence of the forces of the right wing, the male principal, muscular, abusive, militaristic, dictatorial. These forces are usually interested in money and power above everything else and run on a winner-take-all model, with minimal regard for the needs of the poor, the disabled, women, children, the LGBTQ community, etc.

So we have Duterte and extra judiciary killings. We have Tito Sotto taunting a respected cabinet member because she is a single mom. We have Duterte himself saying, of the rape of a missionary, he should have been the first. We have congressional investigations which go in for slut shaming and congressional debate which simply denigrates women’s health needs. We have a Reproductive Health Bill which has been passed but is being held hostage by right wing, conservative groups.

And across the Pacific we have Donald Trump of “Grab ‘em by the p * “ fame.  And now we have Trumpcare, voted through the U.S. Congress by a group of older white men in suits. This bill offers up a long misogynistic list of pre-existing conditions such as having suffered rape, domestic abuse, postpartum depression, abortion, or C-section which may leave women uninsured.  One woman blogger wrote “in other
words, being female makes you uninsurable!”

Where did this resurgence come from?  What spurred it on, just when at least many societies were growing to be more humane, more inclusive? Is it backlash?  It may well be, especially in the United States where a black president took a more inclusive stance, welcomed more women into his administration, welcomed refugees into the country, did much to cut discrimination against the LGBTQ population, supported strong education programs for all children including the disabled, and even put the interests of the environment above those of big business.  Quite naturally big business and banking interests fought back.

Why this happened here in the Philippines is maybe not quite so clear.  The Aquino government was more inclusive, did prioritize health and education needs, but in many senses didn’t seem strong enough.  So people wanted a strong man.

And of course this has happened in many places of the world.

I am confident the pendulum will swing back someday, and concern for women’s rights and health, education, care for the disabled and less fortunate – and for the environment – and the nations of the world will deal with each other in a less belligerent, less militaristic way.  But of course we cannot sit idly and wait for this to happen – it will happen only if we do resist, struggle, fight for what we see as right.  We hear of small acts of rebellion, standing up, talking back.  In the U.S. we are hearing of some pretty substantial acts:  judges invalidating Trump’s racist immigration bans; people filling airports to protect immigrants, women running for office, whole cities and states maintaining their own environmental protection laws.  Here too, especially in Palawan, we know of people working hard to protect the environment, to stave off the use of coal for energy.  We know of people working creatively to maintain forward looking schools and good humanistic education.  I work with a group that tries hard to provide reproductive health services to women who would not have them otherwise.  These efforts are all important and we shouldn’t become so discouraged that we are silenced or that we turn submissive. We just keep going.  And when the pendulum does swing, we’ll have stories to tell of the struggle. And many of them will end with “Nevertheless, she persisted.”

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