The Definition of Consent in “Consensual Sex”

 

I am not a guy … and will never be one. (Whether that is a good thing or a bad thing will be for history to decide.)

I do have friends who are males; and my bestfriend in the whole world possesses an X and a Y chromosome. Most of what I know about maleness, I learned from him, so if my ideas are wrong, he is probably to blame 🙂

***

This morning, I got to thinking about hazing in fraternities and the morbidities and mortalities that arise of such practice.

Full disclosure: my bestfriend (the one who has the XY chromosome) went through such a practice himself and survived. So, that is my bias.

The thing is:

  1. There is a term called “informed consent.” And while the concept has been originally applied to medical procedures that will be done on a patient, the idea as a metaphor can apply in this case.
  2. People who enter fraternities are assumed to be adults (fraternities are banned in high schools and people below 18 are not allowed to join by the college).
  3. Adults are presumed to know what they want.
  4. It is not a big secret that initiation rites that may/may not involve hazing happen in fraternities. Like, hello, I may have been a naive ignorant virgin at 22 but even I knew that when my then boyfriend said he was paddled, it didn’t mean that they went kayaking.
  5. The adult neophyte was not bullied into joining, not coerced, not forced in any way — at least ideally that should be the case. Systemic factors may come into consideration like, some fields (dare I say Law School?) may have the reputation among undergrads that say “success in later career will be determined by being a Greek or non-Greek”, hence the pressure. But still, hey you are an adult, and a law student at that, and you caved in to peer pressure and allowed yourself to be humiliated and physically molested when you didn’t want to? What kind of lawyer will you turn out to be? I mean, just saying.
  6. This is where my data is hazy: the neophyte, can say “no” at anytime during the hazing process.

***

Now if you are wondering, why I kept blabbing about hazing when the title of my article is about consensual sex. Then read this:

Judge accused of ‘victim blaming’ for saying women risk rape by getting drunk

I have never seen, for the life of me, an argument in a hazing case that goes like this: “Neophyte was asking to die by getting into an organization that he knows involves an initiation rite where other guys will paddle him to death.”

Seriously.

***

In conclusion: the correct question during a trial investigating hazing where a victim died is “did, at any point in time, he say no?”

***

 

 

Advertisements

The OFW Life

Dear Auntie J,

Yes now I understand.

Now I get it, the things you had to go through, which my mother (your sister) thought so little of:

Image from plantingrice.com

Image from plantingrice.com… the confusion, the feeling of being lost in a sea of strangers …

… the confusion, the feeling of being lost in a sea of strangers …

Image: screengrab from youtube.com

… the language barriers, a wall so vast and deep because it is not only about words but more about history, culture and  things left unsaid …

al hajar mountains

… adjusting to a different climate whether too hot or too cold, looking  for your Goldilocks-zone and never quite finding it …

Image from gmanetwork.com

Image from gmanetwork.com

… having plenty of material stuff but not having enough, because “enough” meant having someone you love share all that plenty-ness with; unfortunately the ones you love are oceans of miles away …

… worrying and wondering about a distant land you left behind and dealing with the constant question “Did I  do the right thing?”  Leaving was a matter of survival, but still you have your doubts …

…. the feeling that your life is on hold. Because you are neither here nor there. You are not a tourist, but you are not a “resident” either.

Image from pinoyrepublic.info

Image from pinoyrepublic.info

I get it now. I get the allure of wanting to acquire citizenship in a foreign country to get a sense of belonging. Because eventually you feel that your own will not welcome you with open arms. Or the open arms are a sham, was only extended to demand something from you.

I get it now. Why you felt I was wasting my life back home. You see: I still think of it as home. I wonder, after all these years, how you think of it.

Image from minibalita.com

Image from minibalita.com

I get it now. The balikbayan boxes, the infrequent calls,  the seemingly superficial mails (because it really is hard to put into words this feeling of displacement, of  having betrayed something or having been let down, of not knowing who to talk to or how to talk about the deepest fears of your heart, of crying and feeling stupid because, hey, you have all this money, so why the tears?)

I get it now. And I am wondering whether to feel happy for us. Or sorry.

It is masochism, I know … but loving something frequently is.

And I know I love the land of my birth. Leaving was a pain. The pain was (is) palpable, and mostly felt in the wee silences of the morning or before sleeping when the routines of work are over.

Image from thefilipino.com

Image from thefilipino.com

It effing hurts to have left.

But I know … it would have hurt so much more to have stayed.

Queueing

I hate dealing with government agencies in this – my – country. The insensible queuing, the bureaucratic BS, the leech-minded mediocrity that makes up the majority of the staff of  most public offices. Efficiency is an unknown term where I come from; we seem to invent a thousand and one ways to make things constantly difficult for ourselves.

I was in the middle of another serpentine queue one fine day when I saw Helen. Apparently, she was married now, to a man she met in rehab; a politician’s son with his own political aspirations; and Helen was in the agency waiting for her husband who is in a higher-management meeting at “the top floor”.

She motioned  me to follow her with my papers and we went to an office where she introduced me to Willie, a balding young gentleman in a t-shirt printed with the face of Helen’s husband.  After small talk about his family, his work in the agency (Oh he has no plantilla even after 5 years of contractual work? That will not do! Helen will definitely inform Bong about this.), the project that Helen’s husband’s pork barrel has started.  After all that, she sweetly asked Willie if he could please facilitate my papers and we will just be in the canteen and that I am such an old friend she hasn’t seen in a long time. He can come to us when my documents are finished. Willie answers ok madam; and he was smiling but he looked tired.

***

When I first met Helen, I have never thought that she will be the wife of anybody, much less a politician. I was under the impression that she would die before reaching thirty-five in a motel room amidst ecstacy tablets and shabu paraphernalia strewn all around; a very six-o’clock- news way to go. She was very pretty even when she was an addict, pale-skinned, small build, east Asian eyes, pearly white and even teeth – she could have been a soap opera star from South Korea. She was smaller than me and exuded a very effective damsel-in-distress aura that even I who was – well – a girl, would have wanted to turn butch and kill dragons for her.

Oh, and she was Jonas’s ex-girlfriend.

Seriously! I don’t know how Jonas managed to find  these girls. (And what kind of fate makes me bump into them without meaning to, or even wanting to).  There’s  Gaia — knocked up at 17 and now married to a half-Brazilian half-American venture capitalist. When Jonas and I saw her in Washington DC, she looked like Kim Kardashian; spangly earrings,  tight halter top, tanned all over. She talked to me in Tagalog with an American slang and  told me that her great dream is to return to the Philippines and put up a home for teen mothers.

And now,  Helen.

Looking back, I realize that I liked Helen when I first met her, a decade or so ago. I went with Jonas to the basement of a very expensive hospital in Makati where they  kept the psychiatric ward. Helen had just gone through  a tweaking stage. When I first saw her, she was very calm, sweet and heavily sedated.

Jonas was Helen’s “Person In Case of Emergency” which was very puzzling to me since they had broken up years ago. That time, I didn’t know him very well yet. Jonas is the kind of boyfriend, the rare kind of man, that manages to be real friends with ex-girlfriends.

(I spent 3 months of internship  in that hospital and I was friends with the Training Director of the Substance Abuse division, Dr. Risa Mendoza. Risa gave me a funny smile when I introduced her to Jonas, those long years ago. She was giggling when she told me that she was under the impression that I would die an old maid. But then, she said with a wink,  miracles have happened.)

What I liked about Helen was that she was a very good liar. A charming babble-mouth. A very good storyteller. I could tell immediately that she was even a better liar than I am. I had to respect that. Or … the person I was had to.

They discharged her from the hospital and she went directly to a rehabilitation facility south of Manila, where the air was cool, traffic was rare and where Helen met her future husband.

***

Now here she is (ten years hence) bubbly, sprightly, and seemed  very pleased to have seen me. We are friends on Facebook, but I rarely make status updates so she thought I was still in Connecticut.

“I got back 2 years ago,” I told her. “No more visa, dissertation finished.”

“I have always thought you will settle in America. You are just too disciplined, too smart and bright to you know, stay here.”

“You and your husband stayed here,” I reminded her, bemused at her reaction.

“Yes, but Bong and his family are in politics.” She nodded and did not expound, as if that was explanation enough. “I invited you and Jonas to my wedding,” she said reproachfully. “Neither of you came.”

“I am sorry,” I tried to sound contrite. “I don’t know about Jonas but at that time, I couldn’t get away from the university.”

“Alice, I really feel bad about what happened to Jonas.”

“Yes, well that makes the two of us.”

“What kind of world is it  that horrible things can happen to such good people?” she exclaims.

“A totally crappy world?” I said.

It is a crappy world alright. It is a world where an ordinary citizen like me has to get into a 3-hour-long queue in a government agency just for one fucking crappy piece of paper. It is a world where politicians like Bong and other pretentiously “respectable” goons in the echelons of power lord it over meek/apathetic/frustrated (take your poison) citizens who have long been used to this  feeling of learned helplessness. It is a world where a person I love — a do-gooder tree-hugger of the highest order, who only wanted the best for this country that I couldn’t care less about – now has a PTSD so profound that even I, a psychologist by training, can’t get through to him.

I live in a fucking crazy country … which now (goodbye America) constitutes the sum total of my totally crappy world.

***

I stare at  Helen. Once upon a time I really liked her.

Now I say: “Fuck you, Helen.  Fuck you and Bong and all fucking Filipinos like you. And fuck me because I need your help and I don’t want to spend another hour in a queue and I need this fucking paper.”

Helen gave a screech, shocked that I can muster so many f-words in one statement.

That very second, Willie (bless his soul, government bureaucrat that he is), came with my precious paper, a government-issued certificate.

I mumbled a half-embarrassed, half-insincere apology to Helen. And without waiting for her reply, I left.

I know (just like I know that Jonas will still shut me out tomorrow) that Helen will unfriend me on Facebook and that I will probably never see her (nor benefit from her connections) again.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To My Future Self: Seeking Career Advice

(or if you are still clueless 10 years from now, can you just tell me if I made it past forty without dying?)

 

Image from connecticutcatholiccorner.blogspot.com

Image from connecticutcatholiccorner.blogspot.com

 

The past 4 years, I have been working in a public health institution in a Local Government Unit for the following reasons:

1. To augment income from private practice which, until now, is still going nowhere,

2. Sense of obligation to the country whose taxpayers subsidized my education (ha ha),

3.To honor the memory of my mother who gave birth to me in same city where I am currently working (classic example of crass sentimentality and hubris in action),

4. Steady source of income, albeit small (this is almost the same as reason number 1) and

5. I like the people I work with in the facility where I was assigned.

Now I am being offered a job in a foreign country where the salary is 5 times the one I am receiving now.
Should I or should I not go? That is the question.
I do not feel particularly loyal to the institution that currently employs me. There is a culture of mediocrity here that is, I am beginning to realize, the rule in most government facilities.  The problem is I am being sucked into that culture and, let’s face it, it is so much more easier to give in than to fight. My nightmare is that I will be waking up 10 years from now; less a professional and more a cog in the Philippine government bureaucracy — where a lot of things are more wrong than right; but we have to put up with it because it is better than nothing and we do not have the energy, the power or the right connections to make the changes that we want.
I am only Me. And I am lured by monetary compensation much like the next person. My private practice is floundering because I don’t have business sense and I am not motivated to do “customer service”. I know that. Why should I do more when I believe the rewards (the “real ones” anyway) are so much less than what I (or we: meaning, me and my clients) think I deserve?
And also, my present situation leaves me uninspired. Some notion comes into me to upgrade my skills, get another degree, add more words and letters to my resume; and I find myself asking: what for?
I see this offer to work in another country as an adventure,  a change of scenery, or even (with all the terrorist threats looming in that region) maybe a death wish?
Am I too old for all that? Should I settle down now and direct considerable energies, financial resources and emotion to having an offspring perhaps? (another death-wish in another form)
But … but … but …. Offsprings are so overrated! — the bitchy, scrooge-y part of me would say.
So, to my forty-ish-year-old-self-ten-years-from-now: what do you think?

A Continuing Past

“The past is not dead. It’s not even past.” William Faulkner, a dead white American novelist. From the novel, Requiem for a Nun.

“The past is past.” Bongbong Marcos, real-life son of a dead Filipino dictator. In an interview.

RequiemForANun

***

There should be a right way of remembering. Some protocol to acknowledge and/or forgive the past without bogging us down in grudges and arguments.

I say this because I live in a country that has never known how to use the past. We are like that rodent in the cage that keeps on going around in circles.

The son of a dictator insists that the past is the past and we must move on and leave it behind. How so Mr. Marcos? How does a nation that was robbed and mutilated  by your father’s regime do that exactly?

Maybe, for Filipinos, Martial Law is the equivalent of the Civil War for Americans. In many ways, it is a topic that divides us. There are two narratives of Martial Law in my country, and it depends on who is doing the remembering.

According to you and your supporters, it was a golden age when people were disciplined, the economy was great and the leadership was able and competent.

According to me and others who hold the same views: Martial Law was one of the worst things that happened to our country — when corruption was institutionalized; when Ferdinand, Imelda and the cronies robbed us blind; when people were killed by the thousands for expressing their views and when the country’s economy went down to the pits.

I wish for a time traveling machine, something like in that Michael J. Fox  movie that I was so fond of way back in 1989.

I wish to observe the past first-hand and have my friends who are pro-Marcos do so as well. We will go back to 1980, perhaps, the year  I was born and check the veracity of certain claims.

Like: presidential decree arrests, Imelda’s infrastructure projects, arrested and tortured activists, the so-called enforced discipline in the streets, the peace in the countryside, the corruption in the military, the desaparecidos, the food stability and the green revolution, the squatter  colonies and the rise of Smokey Mountain …

Can one narrative be completely right and the other completely wrong? Or are they both correct, different facets of the same prism?

How do we learn from the past if we cannot even agree on  what it consisted of?

If martial law was so wonderful ....

If martial law was so wonderful ….

 

... then why did the 1986 People Power happen?

… then why did the 1986 People Power happen?

 

 

***

Reading Lists:

http://www.fhm.com.ph/daily-reads/news/bongbong-marcos-family-elections-vice-president

http://www.spot.ph/newsfeatures/the-latest-news-features/64010/ferdinand-bongbong-marcos-mythology

http://www.slyejoyserrano.com/myths-about-marcos/

http://www.rappler.com/thought-leaders/12780-the-ghosts-of-martial-law?cp_rap_source=ymlScrolly#cxrecs_s

 

Random Thoughts (on history and families)

“History is the resolve that makes us act so things don’t have to be the way they are. History is about hope, not despair.” — Ambeth Ocampo, Filipino historian

***
Like a lot of my countrymen, I belong to a family of OFWs. Half of my mother’s siblings went to another country to work and, eventually, live their lives; and they now consider the Philippines as just another vacation spot. Now that their nieces and nephews are grown up (whose educations were helped by their remittances), I imagine my aunts (whom I call “mama”) feeling relief, pride and a sense of accomplishment.
So I think back on my mother’s family: my aunts and their dreams of getting out of poverty; my grandmother who never learned to read or write; my grandfather, a farmer who probably got so bored and lifeless living in an industrialized country that he developed the dementia that forced my aunts to send him back to the Philippines; my uncles who worked as soldiers to a dictator; and my mother  with her frustrations and neurosis which she passed on to me.
We trace history through our family. The skeletons in our cabinets, our mad relatives in the attic, the seeming successes that hide secret shames.
Families are a big deal to Filipinos. We are, as a foreign writer has offensively put it, “an anarchy of families”. Our loyalties, first and foremost, are bound to people that share our DNA or are connected to us by rituals such as marriage.
Families are a big deal to Filipinos. Statement of fact. We are a young nation and the institutions that compel us to be loyal to the idea of “country” are tenuous and superficial.
Take the public health facility where I work, for example. the idea of “public health” is a modern one, there is a rigorous body of science behind it, values and norms in which it should operate. That is, in theory. In practice, public health is a pawn of partisan and feudal politics. (I should clobber myself in the head for letting that idea sink in just now. What can I say: idealism and hope made me close my eyes to reality.)
So, yes, I am leaving. Sorry mommy, the system is just too much for me. Much as I would like to follow your entrepreneural example, I am unable to do that and still maintain professional integrity. So I am leaving. Whether I am coming back (and how or when), well, that’s for history to know.

Reading Lists:

http://www.commondreams.org/views/2015/09/25/un-development-goals-miss-point-its-all-about-power?utm_campaign=shareaholic&utm_medium=facebook&utm_source=socialnetwork

http://zenhabits.net/uncertainly/

http://www.rappler.com/views/imho/106827-martial-law-stories-hear?utm_content=bufferb0ec8&utm_medium=social&utm_source=facebook.com&utm_campaign=buffer

 

Thirty-five

Germaine Greer, that controversial ’70’s feminist who wouldn’t give up, even now that she is in her 70’s, once said:

“The point of an organic family is to release the children from the disadvantages of being extensions of their parents so that they can belong primarily to themselves.”

Germaine Greer, The Female Eunuch, 1970

If I can find a copy of this is Booksale, it will go right to my TBR pile.

If I can find a copy of this is Booksale, it will go right to my TBR pile.

Miz Greer, much as I would like to agree, in principle, with your thesis, putting your point into practice would prick parents at their thorniest. Children, you see, are the emotional properties of their parents. And our parents have never; and will never (unless they are dead) let us forget that.

Mothers are the worst. Especially if you are a daughter. I cannot speak for the sons, but if they are there somewhere, I am sure they also have their gripes.

One’s mother almost died giving birth to you; so you owe her. For life.

Wait-just-a-fucking-minute!! I did not wish to be born … I was not exactly consulted if I wanted  to be brought into existence. So excuse me … if I resent your demands for my gratefulness. For this supposedly blessed gift called Life.

***

For a woman turning 35 (one score plus one-and-a-half decade) years old, a milestone has been reached. In medical parlance, she has arrived at a quandary called, “elderly primipara/primigravida”.

The term “elderly primipara/primigravida” was invented, once upon a time, when obstetrics was populated by white-men-in-white-uniform. I think that its insertion into the lexicon of obstetrics residents was partly a warning sign to girls — get a man and have a baby before 35 or you will die.

Samuel Clemens, also known as Mark Twain. A writer who died penniless. Just another chap who may just  be my role model.

Samuel Clemens, also known as Mark Twain. A writer who died penniless. Just another chap who may just be my role model.

In truth, and statistics will show (Mark Twain did say that there are lies, more lies, and statistics) that a lot of morbidities occur in women who gestate after 35. To wit: gestational diabetes, preeclampsia, gestational trophoblastic diseases, gestational hypertension, etc, etc.

I have come to believe that girls get knocked up in their teens because they were stupid; in their twenties because of peer pressure; and give in to maternal instincts in their 30’s because they fear death.

So Miz Greer …  a child is an extension of their parents. Your thesis is a fantasy. A wonderful fantasy, like The Lord of The Rings is wonderful, but a fantasy nonetheless.

But I love you, anyway 🙂