Sunday , June 24, 2018

Editorial: Slut-shaming and fake news

WE'VE seen it played before, and it's being played over and over again now since Margaux Uson otherwise known as “Mocha Uson,” appeared before the Senate inquiry on fake news.

Looked down on because she was a sexy dancer, we opted to look down some more and disregard the fact that she actually has a degree to her name and a lot more braincells than a journalist has.

Many may not admit it, but the bottomline really is her breasts. Yes, we said it, because we know where the slut-shaming is coming from and for as long as we act with the decency that some Filipinos are suddenly concerned about and not mention her breasts, then we will just be skimming on the surface, without seeing where all these is coming from.

At the bottom of it all is the stereotype of a well-endowed woman: that they are only good for their physical attributes and not for any brainwork. The fact remains that Mocha has a degree to her name and several units into Med School at that. It's just that she's well-endowed, knows how to dance, and not ashamed of the body she is gifted with.

At the bottom of it is the commodification of women in our society.

Now onto her being an assistant secretary (Asec) of the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO), and suddenly we are all concerned about her spreading fake news when all she shared that's iffy was that photograph of soldiers that were not Filipinos and a lot of opinions. Her fault, and she already owned up to it. But no, we want her crucified because she's an Asec.

Wait. What is she in PCOO for? Her ability to engage people in a conversation, ability to stir up people to speak up, ability to gather their attention. With that ability thrown government way, people will listen and act.

But we would rather crucify her for it, because you know, big breasts. Our psyche that has long been trained to look down on the well-endowed, and that is a fact.

Now onto fake news.

Many a correspondent and stringer and reporter of national dailies for years on end now have been ruing the fact that their Manila desk would tweak their story and put in some unverified facts even, to increase the death toll or the casualty toll, because that is what sells.

Gunbattles in an almost unknown barangay in the most remote town of a hinterland region would be made to look like there was war in Mindanao.

Mocha now is even accused of polarizing the people as if she indeed is a power so great, she can do everything. But wait, remember those "Muslim" terrorists and criminals the Manila press love to report, to the shame of the Mindanao reporter who actually submitted the news without the tag? It took a major outrage and years of awareness-raising to remove that "Muslim" tag on criminals. Go ask any Muslim, they carry that hurt until now. We even see that label used every now and then from Manila-based journalists. Long before Mocha started dancing, journalists were already polarizing the people.

Lawyer Trixie Cruz Angeles had a strong point when she stumped TV anchor Karen Davila on the topic of fake news and the claims repeated over and over by mainstream media about extrajudicial killings: "You go after Mocha Uson for a wrong picture, but you are absolutely quiet about 13,000 deaths."

Bottomline: Fake news did not come with Mocha nor the Duterte Administration. It has been there, stoked to a blaze by journalists and editors who love to make burning headlines even when what is really happening on the ground is nothing but a dying ember. For as long as we attribute the blame to someone else, the problems will remain.