Lokal na kalalakihan, patuloy ang pakikibaka laban sa pang-aapi ng mga babaeng maiikli magdamit

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“Ilang manipestasyon ng sikolohikal na kundisyon na ito ay ang di-mapigilang pagsipol, pagsabi ng “Hi, Miss”, pagkindat at—ang pinakamalala—matinding depresyon dulot ng hindi pagpansin at minsan pa ay mabilis na paglakad palayo ng mga babae sa kanilang lalakeng nabiktima.”

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“Tama na, sobra na, saplutan na!” ang sigaw ng LIBOG (Liga ng mga Inaaping Boys at, Occasionally, mga Gangstas). Ito ay panawagan ng grupo ng lokal na kalalakihan laban sa “mga haliparot na babaeng walang ibang ginawa sa buhay kundi manukso at mang-akit ng mga kawawang tambay.”

Ayon sa pagsusuri ng LIBOG, hindi bababa sa dalawampung babaeng naka-shorts, naka-mini skirt, o naka-sando, ang araw-araw na nagdudulot ng matinding pagkabalisa sa mga lalaking nakasasaksi sa kanilang pananamit. Ayon kay Mang Kanor, 50, head researcher ng LIBOG, isang sikolohikal na kundisyon na di umano’y maihahalintulad sa PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) ang idinudulot ng ganitong klaseng mga babae sa nasabing kalalakihan.

Ilang manipestasyon ng sikolohikal na kundisyon na ito ay ang di-mapigilang pagsipol, pagsabi ng “Hi, Miss”, pagkindat at—ang pinakamalala—matinding depresyon dulot ng hindi pagpansin at minsan pa ay mabilis na paglakad palayo ng mga babae sa kanilang lalakeng nabiktima.

Si Alex*, isa…

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You are Your Labels.

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That’s sweet. But Havok, we are not judged by our choices, but the groups we belong to!

This is a page from Uncanny Avengers which spurred debate and controversy regarding identity and minorities. As UP celebrates its Pride Week, I just think it’s appropriate to talk about it.
Do the labels people attach to us define us or reduce us to a particular dimension of our identity? There are people who think so. And they hate it.
I understand. They are treated differently as they seem more to people as “gay”, “alien” or “promdi” more than an equal. That is the fundamental problem: how society divides us and prevents us from seeing our common struggles, our potential for unity.
But some of these people, in trying to avoid confrontation or alienation from the lot, deny or keep these “labels” under the rug. They hide the fact that they’re gay, or from outside Manila, or from a poor family, or Muslim, or Christian. That’s also understandable. Society has made it hard for them to identify with what makes them different from society’s favorite class: in our country’s case, the middle-class, heterosexual, fair-skinned Christian from Luzon.
We want to be liberated: to determine our own place in society, without regard for our role as the underprivileged. We want to be treated as merely “human,” not as anything else. The truth, however, is that while we are not less than human, we are more it. We are also our sex and gender. We are also our economic class. We are our provincial origin. We are our skin color. We are our religion.
The liberal, secular, capitalist culture wants us to deny ourselves these characteristics and focus on “our similarities.” But by “similarities,” it means only the things which can be quantified: the things it can profit from. It claims to “liberate” us, but it only wants us to deny the reality of our struggle, the importance of our differences and the avenue for real conversations among people.
Such is the importance of “pride”: the acknowledgement and celebration of difference is the first step towards a real community of people living together in acceptance and progress.
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Not surprisingly, the person who embodies this is Kitty Pryde.

So do not be afraid to be called “gay” or “poor” or “Muslim.” Do not be afraid of being the minority. Embrace it. Identify with the people you belong to. It is the reason why the status quo persists: because they take pride in who they are and expect others to bow to their superiority. No more. It stops now.
The only true path to unity and solidarity is to recognize our differences, which define our interests and experiences. It is the only way a particular class can own up to its mistakes, and for the impoverished to fiercely assert and demand justice.

That’s better.

THE COMMU-RICK MORTY-FESTO

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Rick and Morty, while far from being a vessel for political propaganda, have been teeming with subtle social commentary wrapped inside boxes of testicle jokes and good old science fiction. The sixth episode of its second season, “The Ricks Must Be Crazy,” pokes fun at many significant issues in today’s society.

There are a lot of things one can appreciate in this episode. I, for example, love that Stephen Colbert is in it. Colbert is no stranger to political satire, spending almost a decade providing comedic commentary on the Colbert Report. This episode in particular talks a lot about capitalism, moral and social ethics, as well as the dynamics of power.

Here I shall share with you some of the themes I have observed watching the episode. I have watched it five times already in a span of 48 days and with every screening, I notice and understand more and more things. So I won’t spoil the whole thing, I opted to leave out the B-plot for you to analyze yourself. I hope you enjoy reading.

SLAVERY WITH EXTRA STEPS

Rick's Microverse Battery

“Jesus, Morty, you can’t just add a *burp* sci-fi word to a car word and hope it means something. Hm. Look’s like something’s wrong with the Microverse Battery.”

The episode revolves around Rick trying to fix his “microverse battery” when it broke down while he was taking his grandkids, Morty and Summer, out on an alternate dimension for movies and ice cream. What is special about Rick’s “battery” is that it is a product of both Rick’s intelligence and indifference towards others. Inside the battery is a planet populated by sentient beings whose sole purpose is providing Rick free electricity to “power his engine and charge his phone and stuff.”

This is unknowingly done by the people of the Microverse by stepping repeatedly on a contraption made by Rick called the Gooblebox, which converts their movement to electricity. While the electricity they generate power their seemingly ordinary lives, the people of the Microverse unknowingly give an unspecified amount of the energy they produce to fuel Rick’s power needs, which they thought to be “waste” being transferred to a volcano.

Upon learning this, Morty, Rick’s sidekick and moral foil, calls his grandfather out for “enslaving” an entire planet for the sake of electricity. Rick argued that what he created was a functioning society whose byproduct merely incidentally fuels his need for electricity. Morty, however, seeing through Rick’s poor rationalization is convinced that the civilization Rick created is founded on “slavery with extra steps.”

The society Rick created inside his battery is reminiscent of the Marxist interpretation of the capitalist society. Capitalist society is founded on the accumulation of surplus value. Surplus value is the amount of value produced by labor, which is taken by the captitalists from the workers as profit.

In this case, the surplus value is in the form of energy produced by the Microverse people, stolen by Rick without their knowledge for his own gain. Just like defenders of capitalism, Rick sees this setup as justified as it enables society to function. Like Rick, capitalists see profit not as something stolen from those who worked, but as a natural consequence or a byproduct of individuals “working with each other.”

The truth, however, is that Rick only created the Microverse to never have to pay for electricity. In the same manner, capitalists accept and promote the phenomenon of profit as something “naturally-occurring” because they are the ones who thrive from it the most without being part of the production.

HOW LIES POWER SOCIETY

Rick and Morty's universal sign of peace Rick arrives in the planet and is welcomed as the hero who benevolently introduced electricity to the civilization. Disguising himself as an alien, Rick flips them off as he had previously convinced them that it is a universal sign of peace.

Rick and Morty soon found out that the reason why the car battery won’t power up is because the people from the Microverse have found a way to produce electricity without Rick’s Goobleboxes. Zeep Zanflorp, the Microverse’s most intelligent scientist, while being ignorant of Rick’s true identity, has created a device similar to Rick’s battery. Zeep has also made a small planet inside a box he dubbed “Miniverse,” where little sentient beings power their planet through devices called Flooblecranks, similar to Rick’s Goobleboxes.

To Morty’s surprise, Rick pointed out Zeep’s method of acquiring energy as “unethical,” using the very same words Morty used to criticize Rick. Zeep, unknowingly demonstrating how much alike he is with Rick, used Rick’s previous arguments against him.

“Looks like someone’s going to get laid in college.”

Rick, indifferent towards his own hypocrisy, planned to look for Zeep’s Miniverse’s version of a brilliant scientist who would create a smaller bottled universe, for Zeep to realize the moral implications of his Miniverse. However, after finding the scientist, Zeep only realized that Rick was his planet’s creator all along. Yet, instead of reverence, Zeep was appalled of this discovery.

“I didn’t ask to be born!”

This turn of events seem remarkably similar to how industrialized countries respond to emerging economies. From the First World War to China’s status as a rising power, the wars and international tensions in history since the industrial revolution have always had the interests of the elite among humanity as its primary motivations.

Here, Zeep’s consciousness of Rick’s systemic abuse resulted to aggression, in spite of Zeep being guilty of the same immoral deeds as Rick. This is because the struggle between Rick and Zeep is not a struggle of morality, but of power. Realizing that Rick is capable of totally annihilating his planet, Zeep, since his discovery, has yearned to get Rick out of the way.

Violence as a consequence of the state of war, arising from unequal distribution of power, is a component of what Political Science calls realism. Realism holds that things are not always as they seem: that events arising from relationships can be explained by the drive of individual actors for power.

Marx was also a realist in the sense that he believed that all social relations are based on “an economic base.” This means that culture and language, among many other institutions in society, are mere consequences of how society provides for its needs. In this episode, people from the Microverse use certain phrases (like “blow me”, “fuck you” and “much obliged”) differently, because they interpret such phrases as Rick, the representative of the ruling class, does.

Events, like Ricksgiving, as well as the education system of Rick’s Microverse are also centered around legitimizing Rick as a hero and a friend, and one can only assume that Zeep is also treated with the same admiration in his Miniverse.

This is parallel to how our present culture is engineered to legitimize certain people and groups: not because of their moral uprightness, but relative to how they advance the narrative of the ruling elite. In our case, this may be seen in how holidays like Christmas and Valentine’s Day both encourage the expression of love through consumerism – through purchasing things – in spite of supposedly being about generosity.

F*CK TREES. F*CK NATURE.

Many movies dabble on the apparent antagonism between science and the environment. The Star Wars saga and the Lord of the Rings trilogy, for example, both showed the triumph of religion, oneness with nature and humble, indigent communities over large industrialized empires which distort naturally-occurring things for the sake of power. Rick and Morty, however, did not have such a romantic view of nature in this episode.

Being frustrated with how Rick and Zeep are both using their scientific prowess to destroy one another’s chances of survival after being stuck inside Zeep’s Miniverse, Morty opted to live among the Tree People: an indigenous tree-worshipping tribe living in the nearby forest. After embracing the tribe’s culture, Morty proceeded to eliciting the help of the tribe in getting Rick and Zeep to work together for them to go home.

Morty, however, was not fully assimilated by the tribe’s culture. In fact he expressed disgust over the tribe’s cannibalistic tendencies and grotesque rituals.

While demonstrating the destructive nature of technology gone wrong, Rick and Morty avoids glorifying the “backward savage” society, unlike the Star Wars saga which had two movies featuring technologically-backward tribes overthrowing a more technologically-advanced adversary. However, one can derive the importance of the existence of poverty and deprivation as a possible uniting force for the supposedly progress-inclined scientific community, ripped apart by competition.

Can you imagine if scientists, instead of wasting time competing against each other, opted to work together instead?

Another side to Morty’s disgust for the primitive tribe was his attachment to material possessions. After ranting about how the tribe eats every third baby for the sake of growing fruits, Morty also expressed that he missed his family and his laptop, and how it led him to masturbate to a drift wood.

Morty’s fixation on material things is akin to what Marx’s called commodity fetishism which is the belief that things have value in themselves, independent of the work applied to produce it. This is the principle behind consumerism, which is the belief that “we are what we consume.” Consumerism is one of the major themes in the story, with characters like Rick dismissing morality and discarding ethics in order to sustain their apparently less-important concerns such as going to the movies or fueling a car’s engine.

In a consumerist society, culture and identity has also been reduced to the goods a group or an individual may be associated with. In the story, in spite of the alternate dimension Rick brought Summer and Morty having giant telepathic, carnivorous spiders and “eleven 9-11s,” the characters seemed more concerned about it having the “best ice cream in the multiverse.” The invasiveness of innovation courtesy of consumerism is also demonstrated in how Morty’s genes was altered by Rick for him to conveniently turn into a car.

“PEACE” AMONG WORLDS

Order, or at least Rick’s battery is restored, when Rick finally escaped the Microverse with Morty and returned to his position of ultimate power over Zeep and his planet. Zeep, recognizing that Rick is capable of destroying his world if the car did not start, enjoined everyone to return to their original source of energy.

In a capitalist world order, or in any world order built on inequality, the only way to maintain stability is for the lower level of society to accept their position in society. The Greek philosopher Plato said in the Republic that this can be achieved through the proliferation of “noble” lies: false ideas of themselves and of society which would validate the status quo. Marx had a similar idea, saying that the promotion of a false consciousness among the workers and the rest of society is integral for the capitalists to maintain their dominance in society.

This is why in spite of our differences in class, people in our society tend to think as if we are part of the ruling elite. We are enslaved through the use of ideas: the assumption that we all possess equal rights (although only a few get to enjoy it); the fear of radical modes of change… Like the people from Rick’s Microverse, we are deceived into identifying with a society which treats us as commodities and tools for the benefit of a few.

In such a predicament, an “enlightenment” is needed in order to “demystify” the world presented to us: to be able to see beyond the illusions we are blinded with.

In the story, Zeep accomplishes this through wrestling with his universe’s God, Rick. Although he is unable to vanquish his Maker, he is made aware of the real conditions occurring in his society.

Rick, meanwhile, also realized that it was better for the people of the Microverse to know the truth in the first place. But this was not out of a new found benevolence, but out of his deception failing. In the end, the lies upon which society is built upon will crumble and the real contradictions in society will inevitably be exposed. By then, the ruling class will only be able to keep their position in society through brute force.

The story ends with Zeep saluting Rick with a middle finger, but with the knowledge that it does not truly mean peace among worlds. Zeep has gained a consciousness of the reality behind appearances, which for both Plato and Marx are the first steps to liberation.

ROLL CREDITS

Without regard for the creators’ motivations in creating episodes like this, this show presents us, although in a comedic manner, the moral dilemmas surrounding modern day slavery and how the status quo justifies it. It also challenges our pride: how far are we willing to justify how things are in spite of the exploitation and deception being experienced by people? And are we only so willing to rationalize slavery just so we can run our cars and charge our phones?

Do Humans Exist?

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Before we begin, here is a picture of me in the nude. Enjoy.

Once, two nameless gods found themselves in an argument. This was an odd event, as these gods were not quite like the gods of the Greeks or the Romans, who had business with one another and always found reason to gather.

Also, unlike the other gods, these two nameless gods know themselves to be all-powerful and all-knowing. They almost never found themselves to be needful of each other’s thoughts, except of course for this one occasion, as they found themselves in disagreement.

The two gods were trying to resolve whether or not humans existed. For one of them heard that far away, there lived beings who like them, had reason and power, though it was not unlimited, like in their case. The other could not possibly believe that such being could exist, for it was utterly unnecessary: if it were not so, they would have known, and at least one of them, in their infinite wisdom and power, would have made one.

They argued and argued about the existence of such an entity: where it must have come from; how it may have supposedly acquired its nature, if it does exist; how it goes about its affairs; and what inplications it might signify, supposing it were true.

They had come up with different theories about its existence and nonexistence, but had come up with no final conclusion; until finally, one of them (neither of them would admit to the idea afterwards) suggested that they look for the said being. Fortunately, after searching for it among the vast number of universes that are, they found one. And its name was Socrates.

Socrates was delighted to meet such beings, even with him not knowing what exactly they were: the gods would not reveal their nature to him, for they deemed that his limited reason and intellect may not be enough to grasp the idea if their being. They began asking him a lot of questions which Socrates gladly answers one by one.

After they have exhausted the last of their questions, Socrates found that it was his turn to ask the questions. “Lords, you now know what I am,” said the human. “But what are you?”

The gods looked at each other, seemingly unwilling to answer the question for Socrates’s own sake. Reluctantly, one of them answered: “We are gods.”

Gladness grew on Socrates’s face as he had seen gods, and yet did not tremble, nor die in their glory. “I have heard about you in the myths of the oracles and old wives,” said he. “But I have always wondered – as we were told that you as well as us are ruled by chance and the Fates – what sets the gods apart from men?”

The gods were again taken aback: not only did Socrates have prior knowledge about them, he also was delighted to be in their presence! Yet the gods knew that there must be a misunderstanding about their nature (though it was excusable, as these are mere humans after all): for they were not ruled by fate or chance. They know themselves to be all-powerful and all-knowing, meaning they have the full capacity to define their own existence. This they related to Socrates, who, upon hearing, enlarged his innocent smile.

“What elegant pieces of wisdom I am hearing! This is all too foreign to me!” exclaimed the philosopher. Humbled by such knowledge, Socrates felt the irresistible urge to ask another question: “What then, do the all-knowing and all-powerful gods need my counsel for?”

The gods were growing fond of this young, though scrawny-looking, human, as they had sensed in him not only curiosity but humility. Perhaps this was what humans were for, they thought: to remind the gods of their might and superiority. “Dear human,” one of them said. “We have sought your counsel to settle a dispute on whether or not humans existed.”

The smile on Socrates’s face shrank as his mind grew uneasy. He asked in response: “By humans, what do you mean?”

“Humans,” said one of the gods. “Are lesser beings are rational, but not all-knowing; and while having will, are not all-powerful.”

At this point, Socrates found himself in deep thought. The gods, looking down on him, were curious of what could have been the cause of such change in his disposition.

“In that case,” Socrates slowly said. “If you were all-knowing and all-powerful, would you not have the dispute at the first place right? You would have not found yourselves in differing positions, nor would either of you have required the counsel of another in resolving such a problem, if indeed you were all-knowing. For all Truth is one.”

“Furthermore, you have defined human beings as ‘rational, but not all-knowing; and while having will, are not all-powerful’,” added the human. “From our conversation, I could properly assume that you are rational; for if you weren’t, you would not find it necessary to ask questions when met by ignorance.”

The gods were silent.

“I could also infer that you have will for here you are, looking for answers in the hope of finding them,” Socrates continued. “If you are indeed rational and yet, from my experience of you, are not all-knowing; if you possess will and yet are all-powerful, could it possibly be that you are human?”

It was at this point that the gods felt a surge of anger from the insolence of the human, while it looked as if it were really asking out of curiosity and not arrogance. They were humiliated by a lesser being, and yet their reason cries out: how can this be so, if they were indeed gods?

Bearing this unshakable thought, the gods fled from Socrates. Vowing to never speak of the incident again nor ask the question that led to their humiliation, the two nameless gods went their separate ways and never seek the another’s counsel ever again. They proceeded to rule over their own personal universes with utter indifference towards the universes of other gods, the worlds and proceedings that inhabit them, and most especially, towards humans.

For the gods have learned through humiliation that it would be better to never ask questions and never doubt their being as all-powerful and almighty gods, than to entertain the notion that they might indeed be nothing more than human.

And Socrates? Well, he went to court.

This is what happens when you remind “gods” of their humanity.

Why is it that …

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Why is it that we know we are at fault, but still we are surprised when we experience pain as a consequence. It is as if we expect to always be forgiven our shortcomings, even if we don’t ask for forgiveness. Are we so proud that we feel entitled to absolution, even without admitting there is anything to be absolved from?