Senator Leila de Lima would like us to believe that she is victimized because of her gender.
I vehemently disagree. This is not a gender issue. And it is offensive that she plays the gender card.
It is pure theatrics, like the many she inflicted on us, in her press conferences, in her walkouts. Now she is seen on campus tour trying hard to be another Miriam Defensor-Santiago.
She complains that she is being bullied by the President, the Secretary of Justice, some of her colleagues in the Senate and the House of Representatives, all of them men.
But Leila de Lima is a woman of power. Her public narrative is lived fighting for, with and against men.
As an election lawyer, she lawyered for defeated male candidates.
As a chair of the Commission on Human Rights, she challenged a powerful and popular male city Mayor, who is now our President.
As a secretary of the DOJ, she openly defied the entire male leadership of the influential Iglesia ni Cristo.
She was the attack dog of a weak male President, acting at his behest, and joined the lynching of a sitting male Chief Justice.
She was voted out of her Senate committee by her peers, not because of her being a woman, but because of her mishandling of it, by presenting an incredible witness, and by using her position as chair in running a hearing that far exceeded its purpose, with the aim of destroying the President of the Republic himself.
It should be noted that except for one, all the women senators joined the men to depose her.
She is now in trouble not because of her being a woman, but because of her failure to rein in the drug trade within the national penitentiary, with the suspicion that she might have benefited from it financially, and for her audacity to fight the President.
Hence, for feminists and the CHR to present her as the new poster girl to fight misogyny, on the premise that she is being bullied as a woman, is in the same league as when she paraded Edgar Matobato as a credible witness.
While I concede that she may have a case for misogyny on the issue of the publication of her alleged private sexual indiscretions, her case stands on shaky grounds.
First, a sex video, as proof of a scandal, is as damaging to a man as it was to Hayden Kho. The threat of using salacious sexual proclivities has always been used in history, and victims included men and women, straight and gay. In the US for example, almost all the known sex scandals involved male politicians. Thus, while the misogyny may have been incidental to her case, it is not structural in the entire history of sex scandals and videotapes.
Second, while the disclosure of her alleged sexual adventures is, indeed, morally and ethically offensive, aside from being unnecessary, a close examination reveals that de Lima could not claim to be a victim. If the allegations are true, then the Senator is not a clueless victim but a willing participant. Furthermore, the power relation inherent in the alleged illicit relationship was clear – Leila de Lima was the boss, her alleged lovers were her driver or her bodyguard, men who were her subordinates. She is not a Monica Lewinsky. Clearly she held the power. She was not an innocent schoolgirl who was sexually harassed and forced into submission by a lecher who held power over her.
Leila de Lima claims she is a victim.
However, people are not buying this story line. It is evident in the angry birds that float across the screen during her video-streamed press conferences, and the fact that when she tried to cry, that such were replaced by icons of laughter instead of sympathy.
Leila de Lima claims she is a victim of misogyny.
She is not. On the contrary, her life story is littered with male victims, or losers whom she saved from electoral debacles, or weak men she propped up. Men served and guarded her. She bullied men, fired and hired them, used them, took care of them, loved them and destroyed them.
And if there is one single icon of a man whose fall she had a hand on, that would be Renato Corona, who died a broken man. And if there is one man that she may have used and destroyed, it would have been Edgar Matobato.
Leila de Lima may have been objectified by the testimonies in Congress about her alleged sexual acts, but lest we forget, she would have been in the scene not as a helpless victim. If the allegations were true, then we could say that she would have been a sexually empowered woman in full control of her sexual agency who knew and got what she wanted.