The controversy about Vice Ganda’s gang rape joke about veteran news anchor Jessica Soho shows no signs of cooling down. The comedian, Jose Mari Viceral in real life, publicly apologized to Soho yesterday in the noontime program Showtime. Watch the video below:
In his remarks, he recounted that he called Soho personally a few hours earlier but the multi-awarded journalist refused to speak to him. “Sorry, hindi maayos ang timpla ko ngayon,” the comedian recalled Soho as saying to him. When asked if they can talk some other time, the journalist retorted: “I don’t think so.”
In a statement made in response to the comedian’s public apology, Soho said: “I sincerely hope and pray that this was done with the purest intentions and determination to put this issue behind us.” The journalist added that Viceral’s number is not registered in her phone’s directory.
“I told him I wasn’t feeling well and I wasn’t sure I was ready to talk to him. But I clearly remember thanking him for his call,” she explained, apparently aware that the comedian’s narration of events might put her in a negative light.
Women’s groups slam comedian
Meanwhile, a prominent women’s right group and a government agency also criticized the comedian for his comedy skit about Soho. The Philippine Commission on Women (PCW) said Vice Ganda’s jokes are “tasteless and revolting.” Rape, the group said, “should never be a material for a comedy concert.”
“The repercussions of rape jokes are serious and damaging. In the pursuit of humor, women’s and even men’s vulnerabilities are exploited,” the PCW reiterated. The commission also called on entertainment and media professionals “to practice censorship, sensitivity to feelings, and gender responsiveness.”
Joms Salvador, secretary-general of women’s rights group Gabriela, stressed that rape “should never be trivialized nor made into a joking matter in everyday conversations and even in shows, comedy or otherwise,” regardless of whom the joke is directed.
“That personalities make rape a laughing matter and the public even laughs at such jokes reflects a deeper problem in our society, a society where violence against women and children occur and flourish despite the utter inhumanity of it,” Salvador said.
She called on media networks to provide gender sensitivity trainings to their employees, noting that the media “plays a big part in educating the general public on what is right and what is not proper regarding treatment of women and children in particular and human rights in general.”
My take: What do people say when they see a girl who looks stressed? “Mukha kang na-rape.” What about to a woman who’s wearing skimpy outfit? “Parang gusto mo ma-rape.” Does it mean they are belittling the experience of rape survivors? Not necessarily.
Those remarks are insensitive, but admit it, those had become part of people’s normal conversations. Vice Ganda’s ‘gang rape’ joke on Jessica Soho is tasteless and crude. But I would neither pass judgments on him as a person nor read too much behind this situation.
Also, criticizing Vice Ganda’s mean joke against Jessica Soho should not be a license for anyone to use homophobic insults against him.
- Vice Ganda vs Jessica Soho (filipinoscribe.com)