Thursday ∗ 25 Nov 2010

the fight for the RH Bill: the failure of those who party

you know I am all for the Reproductive Health Bill, ready to fight for its passing into law, no matter how gruesome that end looks: from being called names to losing the respect of relatives/friends/students who are more conservative than me, who believe in this Church more than I ever will.

to me, the fight for the RH Bill is the most logical one for any Filipino woman. it’s the most matter-of-fact law that’s painfully long in coming that we should want for ourselves, regardless of our religious inclinations. (and maybe after we can talk about divorce.)

to me, the fight for the RH Bill has always been about fighting for it to the last syllable I can speak and last letter I can type out, calling a spade a spade, the Pinoy Church what it actually is. to me, it needs to be said that the Pinoy Church is different from the bigger Catholic Church, just because it is here in third world Philippines that it has been allowed to be devil: governments have acceded to this Pinoy Church’s wishes to the detriment of its citizens.

here in the land where our notion(s) of being woman are created, the Church is certain and consistent; NOT like the Pope who has come to admit certain realities to be true.

but as much as I will critique the Pinoy Church’s ways of dealing with the RH Bill’s passing, I will know to see when the fight for the RH Bill’s passing is failing, if not just wrong, plain wrong. and so it must be said that this whole discourse of ex-communication is the worst thing to have come out of this fight for the RH Bill. the worst.

I admire Carlos Celdran, who has more balls than many of us combined, and who will also call that spade, a spade, AND a hoe for good measure because he can. but really? after his Damaso performance at the Manila Cathedral, we SHOULD NOT have: 1. ridden on the Damaso bandwagon, because in fact it is old and untrue at this point, and 2. latched on to the question of ex-communication, and thinking it a valid guidepost to this fight for the RH Bill. I’ve said this once, and I’ll say it again: when Carlos did his Damaso performance, it was powerful and sparked debate about the RH Bill.

when the Pinoy Church mentioned the possibility of ex-communication, it was laughable at most. what does it say about the RH Bill advocates now that they’ve used ex-communication as part of their campaign tagline, even wanting to party in its name? yes, they are going to party. they’re selling tickets for it, too.

I always thought that the end of debates about reproductive health has to be discussions not so much on choice, but on conception and when it happens. at what point is something preventing pregnancy? at what point is something an abortifacient? I always thought that this process of fighting for the RH Bill wasn’t so much about debating with the Pinoy Church but about discussing reproductive health so intelligently and truthfully that at the very least it would mean more women having a better sense of their choices, and learning that they have this right to their bodies. I always thought the RH Bill was about our rights as women to health services that are exactly for us, and this the debates on birth control and family planning needed to point out.

I always thought the point here was to convince more and more women of whatever religion to see that the RH Bill is her right, and that it will not be a judgment on her that she chooses to exercise this right. I thought that in the process of discussing the RH Bill, with as much intelligence and compassion as we can, that we would also be able to address the crisis that befalls the Pinoy Catholic, in the face of her faith vis a vis her notion of her rights.

because every woman has a personal stake in the RH Bill. and it requires an amount of truthfulness and honesty to face it and come clean on our own misconceptions and missteps given the lack of it in our lives, given the lack of respect for our rights as women. I thought this would be the point: to talk about our own individual feelings, memories, notions of our bodies vis a vis our religiosity and conservatism, and see that every bit of us is there, is here, in this debate about our right to our reproductive health. mine is here, my personal stake, is here.

I always thought the point of the RH Bill was to teach women to speak up about their needs as women, as women who live and use their bodies every day. I thought it would mean a lot of truthfulness about our bodies and the religion(s) and belief(s) we hold dear, and how this means a crisis on the level of the female individual. I always thought that intelligent discussions with regards the RH Bill would mean truly talking about our lives as women in third world Philippines living with the Pinoy Church, in the hope of letting other women see that it’s possible to live the contradictions, because this is our right to life, to our bodies, to our choices.

I thought that the point was to NOT stoop down to the level of the Pinoy Church, at the very least, not be faced with them Katoliko-sarados and not know what to say — NOT KNOW WHAT TO SAY!– in the face of being called names.

sadly, the fight for the RH Bill has been sidetracked – perfectly, mind you — by the Church. the fight for the RH Bill has become about ladies who want to party and celebrate ex-communication, come on do it to us! they scream, as if this is the point at all. they fail to see that they latched on to something that’s beside the point, something that the Pinoy Church has articulated, something that was a funny threat at most, an irrelevant one in truth.

because if you didn’t care for the Pinoy Church, if you aren’t a practicing Catholic, and therefore you don’t mind being ex-communicated, shouldn’t that give you more teeth to sink into this topic? if you don’t mind being ex-communicated, then the goal must be to speak out about the things that the Pinoy Church would surely ex-communicate you for: at least speaking out would mean getting more people on your side, deadma na sa ex-communication, wala ka namang paki do’n.

but this whole ex-communication party? goodness. it is a failure on all counts, if not a display of the stark class divide that exists for the women in this country. it will also surely get more Catholics back on the Church’s side, no matter how critical they’ve been of it, no matter that they believe in the RH Bill.

this party is the perfect example of a failure in the fight for the RH Bill. it fails every woman who needs the RH Bill so she may be protected, it fails the poor woman for whom the RH Bill was created – she who DOESN’T WANT to be excommunicated and might not even know the word.

i wish this was a case of the blind leading the blind, but stuartsantiago seems to be right: it’s a lack of critical thinking. what a waste of time and money, energy and media mileage. and in light of the countless women who die every day because there’s no RH Bill, this party is as pointless as the Pinoy Church’s refusal to enter the 21th century.

it can also only be as tragic.

Posted in: aktibismo, bayan, kalalakihan, kawomenan, komentaryo, media, pulitika

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