Our the­o­ries be­hind toi­let use

Sun Star Bacolod - - Opinion -

De­bates and ar­gu­men­ta­tions on the SOGIE bill are get­ting louder. Big words such as “re­spect” and “recog­ni­tion” have been dropped like bomb­shells. Those who are for the bill be­gin with the big ideas of “hu­man­ity” and “re­spect.” In­te­gral in their ar­gu­ment is the uni­ver­sal­ity of hu­man rights, a pri­mary re­quire­ment of which is “equal­ity” and thus the ne­ces­sity of the law’s equal pro­tec­tion.

At first glance the pro­posal looks harm­less.

Many of its pro­po­nents in fact, and es­pe­cially in the Philip­pine con­text, ar­gue that it is in harmony with re­li­gious teach­ings. There is a dan­ger how­ever if we rush and jump into the con­clu­sion. Most of the time, we dis­re­gard the the­o­ret­i­cal frame of things, for­get­ting that most as­ser­tions in the pub­lic sphere come from as­sump­tions that re­main debatable. In a world where many peo­ple be­lieve that one’s opin­ion is as good as the other, the way to break the tie is to side with those who are nois­i­est if not most pow­er­ful.

De­part­ing from the premise that law in gen­eral should pro­tect all hu­man be­ings, the ar­gu­ment in fa­vor of the bill moves for­ward: what­ever males re­ceive, fe­males also should, and what­ever males and fe­males re­ceive then so should gays and les­bians.

And this goes far­ther: what­ever males, fe­males, gays, and les­bians, re­ceive, so should trans-gen­ders, and queers. Then back to the main premise: they are, af­ter all, hu­man be­ings, and hu­man be­ings de­serve to be re­spected, pro­tected, and loved.

Clearly, there is no quar­rel on the need to be loved and pro­tected. Missed how­ever in the dis­cus­sion, and per­haps con­sid­ered by many as nonessen­tial are the fol­low­ing ques­tions: have we re­ally set­tled or are we just as­sum­ing that there are other cat­e­gories be­sides “man” and “woman?” Surely, the com­mon an­swer of those in fa­vor of the bill would lead us to that of­ten-re­peated dis­tinc­tion be­tween

“sex”, “sex­ual ori­en­ta­tion” and “gen­der.” But this an­swer makes the dis­cus­sion now more in­ter­est­ing. And so again we ask: have we re­ally set­tled that

“sex” and “gen­der” are two dif­fer­ent cat­e­gories?

So­ci­ol­o­gists tell us that sex and gen­der are not in­ter­change­able. And that we can­not just rely and mainly base a per­son’s gen­der on his bi­o­log­i­cal con­sti­tu­tion. Thus a per­son may be clas­si­fied at birth as male be­cause of his pe­nis but he may dis­cover in his early adult years that he is a ho­mo­sex­ual in terms of ori­en­ta­tion. Now, should he, later, de­cide to change por­tions of his body on the ba­sis of what he feels is his strong fem­i­nin­ity, then he be­comes a trans-woman. And this now is the ques­tion: can a man there­fore “choose” or “de­cide” not to be a man, and thus be­come a woman? Is some­one who “de­cides” to be­come a woman – “a woman?”

So the so­ci­o­log­i­cal “in­ter­pre­ta­tion” that we are not bi­o­log­i­cally de­ter­mined is right? Is it cor­rect to say that all the cat­e­gories that we have been hav­ing are just cat­e­gories (male and fe­male) and are sub­ject to change de­pend­ing on how so­ci­ety “con­strues” or “in­ter­prets” re­al­ity?

If the SOGIE bill will be­come a law, it will “re­quire” us to not just re­spect those that the law re­quires us to re­spect. It will “re­quire” us to

“change” the es­sen­tials be­hind our in­ter­pre­ta­tions.

For ex­am­ple: in the name of re­spect and love we will be made to rein­ter­pret what has long been held that man and woman are our ori­gin. Likely we will be told that we are not sure as to whether those first be­ings were truly man and woman. Per­haps we will be told that they prob­a­bly were not, and their sexes were merely as­signed by the dom­i­nant sys­tem at the time of the myth’s writ­ing.

Are those politi­cians who have pro­fessed their sup­port for the bill mak­ing a choice based on their ex­am­i­na­tion of the bill’s as­sump­tions? Why is this im­por­tant? When en­acted SOGIE will not just be about rights and recog­ni­tions. It will make us change our un­der­stand­ing of dis­tinc­tions, as­sign­ments, and roles.

So this is not just about en­ter­ing the CR and us­ing who­ever’s toi­let. This is about what pre­sup­poses these as­ser­tions. At the core of our de­bates are the dif­fer­ences in our read­ing of what ba­si­cally un­der­lies the way we read things, and even how we po­si­tion ourselves in re­la­tion to a fu­ture we hope our world to achieve.*

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Philippines

© PressReader. All rights reserved.