Senator Tito Sotto does it again. The Senator, whose hallmark seems to be offending as many people as possible, made headlines yesterday when he insulted DSWD Secretary Judy Taguiwalo's status as a single mother during her Commission on Appointments hearing.
Sotto brought up Taguiwilo's solo parent status as a set-up for a joke, apparently, one whose punchline has the oh-so-holy Sotto, who clearly has never done anything wrong his entire life, saying, "in the street language, when you have children and you are single, ang tawag lang ay na-ano lang."
The remark rightfully angered women and women's groups, who demanded an apology. And gosh darn it, Sotto, being the suave politican that he is, listened to his constituents and "apologized."And just to make sure everyone got the joke, he put in the air quotes himself. Whatta guy.
After "apologizing," he made sure to say that everyone was being oversensitive and can't anyone take a joke anymore?
"Perhaps some people were overly sensitive or perhaps they didn't realize that it was in the CA (Commission on Appointments)," he said. Last I heard, being in a formal session like the CA meant you were SUPPOSED to watch your language. But what do I know? I'm not a politician.
He also used the backlash as an excuse to whine about his haters hating on him. "Perhaps these are just people who are really not my fans, so to speak. Baka pakontra lang sa'kin iyan na kahit ano makita sa'kin ay pakontra na."
It's convenient, during these trolling times, for people such as Sotto to pile on the hate for others then whine at the littlest infraction on himself, even—and especially if—it was deserved. Basically, he can dish it but he can't take it.
He's the bully that turns into the whiny little boy who hides behind his privilege when asked to be accountable. That he and many people like him run the country is scary.
He continues to list reasons why he is in the right. That he doesn't think Taguiwalo was insulted. That he loves his wife and daughters. That his mother was one of the founders of the women's rights movement. So many, many things to explain why he didn't do anything wrong so why is everyone getting their panties in a bunch?
When will he (and we) learn that it doesn't work that way? Being the son of a suffragette doesn't give him the right to insult and demean women. His saying that he would be the last person on earth to insult women doesn't mean that his women-shaming actions aren't misogynist. That Taguiwilo held her ground doesn't mean she isn't offended, it means that she's professional, which is more than anyone can say for Sotto.
Sotto not only insulted Taguiwilo by indirectly questioning her ability to lead a government agency by bringing up her single parent status in a CA hearing, he also insulted every woman who's had to raise a family by herself, whether by choice or circumstance.
He's belittled all the struggle and pain that solo parents—women and men, but especially women—have had to endure to make sure their family survives physically and mentally, usually at a cost to their own well-being, putting them up against a religious standard that he himself does not hold in high regard.
Sotto is not a government official who has the best interest of the citizens at heart. His words and actions are painful evidence of this.
It's a hallmark of misogyny to label women oversensitive. This goes back to when women were labeled 'hysterics' every time they did something men did not approve of.
That's what Sotto is doing with us now. Calling us hysterics. Saying we overreacted. Glossing over our real hurt feelings by imposing his, making us feel silly and uncool by saying we can't take a joke.
Sotto did not apologize. He knows it. We know it. And yet he's getting away with it.