by Tomas T. Talledo
[Confer (cf.) Toril Moi, Sexual/Textual Politics (1986)]
I read various statements from different groups and line offices of UP Visayas-Iloilo. The statements poured out anger and anguish as provoked by the “ManyaksOfUPV,” an on-line niche where misogynist exchanges among members of the Scintilla Juris Fraternity were accessed. Sensational as it is this surfaced the scandal for public eyes and appeared in local and national news outlets. The likes of #Metoo victims’ disclosures flooded social media boldly naming the sexual predators.
The count of statements released were at scale of intensities in condemnation of lewd contents of ManyaksOfUPV leaks total to 20*. They’re from resident organisations in the university spanning from the disciplinal, interest, political groups of students and from the Alumni Association. The involved fraternity and sorority, Scintilla Juris and Stella Juris, released their respective apologetics. As expected by publics are communiques released by the bureaucratic line offices: the Anti-Sexual Harassment, Gender and Development Program and from the core of Administration officials.
On closer look, the various statements betray the distinguishable authorial framings of the scandal. The ubiquitous “statement of the problem,” its perceived source or “where it’s coming from” and the strongly suggested “disposition” of those guilty are only detectable to discerning readers. The framings are recognizable as they truly are: “different folks with different strokes”.
There are two broad views regarding the “nature” of the problem. One side submits that it’s traceable to despicable behavior of individuals, the other side points out the prevailing “macho-fascist” and/or patriarchal culture. But a few are not clear about by their mixing up of units of analysis or who/what is culpable party within the statement. And the “metaphysics” of guilt is often on the heads of individuals that in the long run spared the group affiliation. This metaphysics is shared by the statements of many groups in UPV.
Statements that deployed terms like “macho-fascist” and “patriarchal, misogynistic culture” seem to depart from individual blame. The accusing finger points at an overarching social-ideological structure that can only be grasped as an abstraction. However within the limitations of a statement form such abstraction, if not concretely defined or described, remains a nebulous abstraction. Thus, the sting of the message is dissipated.
Understandably, the involved fraternity and sorority in the on-line scandal released their apologetics but the arguments they marshaled failed to reach the level achieved by early Christian fathers as to be persuasive. Augustine’s Confessions is the widely accepted model of this genre. This is probably because the appeal of apologetics as genre is only fit in defense of serious remorse but not for petite contrition. With Augustine again, when libido is in question, the gravity of kenosis or self-emptying really matters!
What about statements emanated from line offices of the University? They were made public to preserve and to reiterate existing texts regulating the (mis)behaviours of the constituents. They’re speech elements of the school’s discourse on system maintenance. These statements cannot do without over emphasizing the penal portions of regulations and the wages of violations. Yet these officialese are blind in failing to see the overarching “textual-sexual” politics combination.
These official statements are circumscribed because they did not recognize the fact that the State University is in the final analysis always a state’s university. And that human libidinal energies were never shackled by the State nor by the educational institutions since then. An imperceptible truth to those intoxicated by their positions. For the university bureaucracy is like a coiling creature that swallows its tail: an uroboros, a self-preserving serpent.
Public scandals such as this is not singular nor novel in educational institutions. Sex scandals happened even in religious institutions as we knew now. What’s probably unique and jarring to many is the site where this scandal spread — as something trending in the cyberworld in real time. And that the dynamics of shame or “loss of face” operated overwhelmingly than the dynamics of self-guilt in a rural school like U.P. Miag-ao. For what is least expected teasingly comes unforeseeable./www,panaytoday.net
*Statements from groups (13 = All UP Academic Employees Union, UPV University Student Council, SAMASA Alumni, SAMAKA-KA, SAMASA-UPV, RedBolts, Hublag Dance Group, DUCES, Hamili Brotherhood, Sociological Society, Samahang Sikolohiya, UPV Alumni Association, Skimmers); from UPV line offices (5 = College of Arts and Sciences, Division of Humanities, UPV Administration – Information and Publications Office, Anti-Sexual Harassment Office, Gender and Development Program Office); from involved Fraternity/Sorority (2= Scintilla & Stella Juris).