by the Weekly Sillimanian | May 5, 2022
The Johnny Depp v. Amber Heard defamation trial finally began last April 11 and has naturally become one of the most followed events in recent weeks. From memes to debates, the event has prompted a lot of media and discussions online — most of which are centered on the double standards men face as victims of abuse.
As Filipinos, this topic hits close to home. Given our country’s deeply-rooted patriarchal culture, there is actually a lot we can learn from this popular case.
The Weekly Sillimanian acknowledges the fact that men can be recipients of abuse.
To put the issue into perspective, there was actually a case of battered husbands recorded in a certain barangay in Davao. In Agdao Centro, Rene Estorpe, president of the Federation of Gender and Development (FGAD), cited the case of two men who actually ended up being charged with violating the VAWC Law after trying to complain about the abuses they received from their wives.
These men received mostly verbal abuse and did not want their cases to be resolved by third parties for fear of having a broken family. Aside from having to deal with being ‘poor,’ husbands, and men in general, also have ‘their pride,’ preferring to keep things confidential.
According to Empowering the Abused Men author Emiliano Manahan, there are 12 to 15 men out of 100 couples in the Philippines who experience domestic abuse. However, because of machismo culture, most of these cases often go unreported or worse, disregarded.
This machismo culture arguably connects with women’s own long history of oppression. In fact, it was not until the last century that more women started being granted rights to education, suffrage, representation, and more. In some present cultures even, there are women who are still not allowed to do basic things like going out without a male guardian.
Because women were, and perhaps still are, treated as less capable than men for such a long time, the idea that men can get hurt is still difficult to grasp for a lot of people. From a young age, boys are discouraged from crying because it is seen as unbecoming of a man. Our use of language does no favors to combat this either. Phrases like “man up” or “you run like a girl” cement the idea that men are strong and women are weak. Thus, only the latter can be victimized.
Here is another instance wherein abuse against males is not given the same amount of concern as that against females: when underaged boys are the subject of an adult woman’s attention. When an older woman exploits a young boy, some people would praise or see him as lucky, whereas if the genders were reversed, people would immediately be concerned for the child’s wellbeing.
Feminism was never meant to be a reason for misandry. It was and should still be a cause for women to have the same rights as everyone else. And this cannot be fully achieved if we completely disregard the possibility that men can get hurt too. As Andrew Pain said in his TEDx talk, domestic abuse is not a woman’s issue, nor is it a man’s issue — it is a human issue.