This is not the first time the Vatican is blaming feminism for what it
considers terrible things happening in the world today. While visiting
Manila-Philippines, Vatican official Paul Josef Cordes declared
yesterday that "feminism" is not only eroding manhood but causing "a
crisis in fatherhood."
According to Cordes, "gender mainstreaming" and "radical feminism"
attack biological manhood by insisting that gender roles are learned.
He claims that men are demeaned by the ideal of a "sweeter man" who is
both emasculated and feminized.
Cordes lays the blame for delinquency and suicides among
"fatherless children," on women. This prompted a local feminist (who
considers "sweeter men" as a cause for celebration) to ask the obvious:
"How is it that when men abandon their families, women get blamed?"
Cordes’ lament comes in the wake of deliberations in the Philippine
Senate, which is likely to result in the passage of pro-women’s rights
legislation called the Magna Carta for Women. The bill seeks to adopt
the principles of the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of
All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) into local
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While there is reason to hope that a law furthering women’s rights
will be passed soon, it was recently noted in the local media that the influential wife of a former Senator was "lobbying" in the Senate by threatening senators with no less than the
"opprobrium of the Catholic bishops." Even as I write this post, advocates are hard at work to defend
the provisions of the bill, which are being targeted for deletion by
the self-appointed Catholic lobbyists.
One Senator who was approached to introduce the amendments claims
that the Catholic Bishop’s Conference (CBCP) denied that the so-called
amendments (accompanied by a letter from the Archbishop of San
Fernando Pampanga, on the official stationery of the CBCP) are the
"official" position of the CBCP.
I received a copy of the proposed amendments and apart from a
handful of useful grammatical suggestions the proposal, which seeks to
delete virtually all references to gender and human rights, defies both
logic and fairness.
Gender is a widely used term in international human rights law. As
a "social category" which is commonly used as a basis for
discrimination and/or subordinate treatment, gender is specified
alongside race, sex, religion, language, and ethnicity in relation to
the principle of non-discrimination. One UN document reflecting such
usage is General Recommendation No. 19 of the CEDAW on Violence Against
Women (VAW), which defines "gender-based" violence.
As an analytical or evaluative standard for inclusion on the other
side of discriminatory practice and exclusion, mandating the
integration of a "gender perspective" in General Recommendation No. 14
by the Committee on the International Convention on Economic, Social
and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) relates to the manner of compliance by
states of their obligation under the treaty to promote and protect the
"right to health." As an evaluative standard, "gender" helps to
highlight erstwhile "neutral" policies and programs, which usually end
up adopting male biased standards.
Health has proven to be especially problematic for gender-blind
policy because of the differing reproductive health needs of the sexes,
as well as the varying impact of health interventions on marginalized
groups which includes women and sexual minorities.
The Catholic lobbyists’ proposed amendments do not really provide a full discussion of their position but it attacks the CEDAW:
above language is bad. CEDAW opens the door for several policies that
can violate constitutional rights such as marriage, life, the right of
parents to educate their children, etc. Additionally, it extends to
other international instruments, which includes CEDAW’s protocol and
other later conventions such the one (sic) on the elderly (includes
euthanasia), children, etc. which could allow the authors to claim that
the right to life is not a universally recognized international human
The Philippines has ratified all International Human Rights
Instruments to date (save for the Rome Statute establishing the
International Criminal Court) while the International Convention on Civil
and Political Rights (ICCPR) and other instruments affirm the right to
life, though there is no "International Convention on Euthanasia." Given
its rejection of human rights, patent absurdity, and disregard for fair
play (grassroots women have been lobbying and working with Congress
through the legislative cycle over the last six years while the new
amendments came long after the period for deliberations and
interpellation) surely the proposed amendments will be impossible to
peddle in the august halls of the Philippine Senate?
I still don’t understand how making women better off and in a
position to exercise their rights is an affront to men. I do, however,
in this case understand how politicians desperate for the Catholic
hierarchy’s backing in the 2010 Philippine elections can dash women’s