Masturbation, women’s work, and other words of wisdom from Sen. Enrile.

Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile has some strange ideas on human conception and sexuality. I saw some reactions from the Senator’s statements from the Senate transcript where he was quoted to have equated masturbation to abortion.

That seems like a exagerrated interpretation of the Senator’s statements; what Sen. Enrile categorically said was that “interference” from the union of sperm and egg cells (such as in masturbation or the “withdrawal method”) has no difference from using a condom. It’s “interfering with the production of life”, but is not necessarily an act like abortion.

The Senator took this view because of his Catholic faith. I wonder if the good Senator had realized that natural family planning methods (which the Catholic Church endorses) also “interferes” with fertilization. In fact, that is the point of any family planning method, whether artificial or natural: so that a heterosexual couple could have sex without the woman getting pregnant.

I’m sure we could get along fine without knowing the good Senator’s thoughts on masturbation, amusing as it is. However, his views on gender roles is more disheartening. If some of us think that majority of our lawmakers are still adhering to medieval ideas on gender typecasting, we’re not merely imagining things.

Excerpts from the Senate transcripts (28 September 2011):

Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile (JPE): (Selected quotes on his views on gender roles):

“In the coconut farm areas, I have yet to see a woman climbing a coconut tree to gather coconuts.”

“If we go to the case of our social structure, in the case of farmers, in the rural areas, the human beings plowing in the field – to plant rice, to plant corn, or to plant crops – are all men. Of course the women, they help in harvesting sometimes. But most of the time these are the functions of the farmers.”

“In the case of fishing, the fishermen are mostly men. In the case of lumbering, this is all the function of men…to earn a living for their families.”

“In the case of workers, most of our workers in the country are men, who feed their families, because that’s the nature of the genders: The women are supposed to stay at home and tend to the problems of the home and the children, and the men go out, risk their lives in order to earn a living. So one compensates the other.”

Sen. Pia S. Cayetano (PSC): (Selected quotes on her views on gender roles):

“His Honor’s [Enrile’s] view embodies the position that men have held for decades or probably for centuries: That the men’s work is the work that matters…Precisely why His Honor says men go out and risk their lives and women stay home and take care of the children.”

“Women’s work is invisible work…If you only consider the men’s work as that which provides for the family, then definitely, the woman is an invisible worker kasi wala nga sya sa radar eh.”

JPE (Selected quotes on his view on maternal deaths):

“I think I can venture to say that more men die going out to see or into the fields to earn a living than women giving dying because of giving birth to a child.”

“Every year we know of men who go out to sea, who go out to their farms and get bitten by snake. These are not counted by statistics.”

“What surprises me, in the rural areas, without the assistance of doctors, women give birth, hardly anyone would die. I do not know why they die in hospitals.”

“I am talking about the experience in my barangay where I grew up. I know everybody in that big barangay and during my whole time living in that barangay, I have not known a single woman who has died while giving birth. And yet this is the poorest barangay. I mentioned this again this morning, in the budget [deliberations] of the DSWD. Until now it is still the poorest barangay in the country.”

PSC (Selected quotes on maternal deaths):

“[Between] the chances of a man who is a seafarer, and a woman who is giving birth dying at home without the support of a professional…the chances of her of having complications that would require life intervention would probably be greater than her husband succumbing at sea…The women who die will not have their faces flashed [in the news] because oftentimes, this [story] would not be [considered] newsworthy…that women lose their lives in their own homes giving birth. It is not even as newsworthy as a fisherman who gets lost at sea.”

“Unfortunately other barangays are not as lucky as His Honor’s (Enrile’s) barangay. Women are dying and that is a fact.”

Source: Senate RH debates explore the extreme and the ‘unknown’

I would like to think that I have a right to be disgusted by the viiews of Sen. Enrile. I have voted in every national elections since I was twenty and I did not vote for him. It disgusts me how despite his role during the Marcos regime and the Marial Law, he still has enough influence to be elected as a Senator for several terms now.