Women’s Month

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By May Anne Cacdac

The Iron Maiden

Thursday, March 13, 2014

LAST Friday, I was invited to be one of the speakers for the Overseas Welfare Workers Administration-Cordillera led forum on how women are depicted in media.

Without a script in hand, I spoke casually about experiences on the job.
I started with how fortunate we are in the region since there are several media outfits which employ remarkable women.

I am editor-in-chief of the only daily publication in the Cordillera. Another woman leads the Baguio Chronicle, Atty. Marissa Dacayanan. Baguio Midland Courier has Jane Cadalig, Rima Opina and Hanna Lacsamana. DZWT has Rose Malekchan. I could go on and on.


But what does it mean to have all these women playing significant and decision-making roles in a media outfit?

Not to demean our male counterparts, but I believe women have it in them to be compassionate, firm, assertive, gentle, feisty and nurturing all at the same time.

We are often thought to be highly emotional, something attributed to lapses in judgment and yet I could say, so far, so good. We get the occasional flak because of some proofreading error but I haven’t heard of libel cases as a result of letting our emotions get the better of us.
Thank God. I intend to keep it that way.

I went on to relate how, as my first act as editor-in-chief, I took down the image of the actress or actor featured in our entertainment page as part of the masthead.

For those familiar with the old layout of our newspaper, I am quite sure you know what I am talking about.

Mostly we had actresses with, let’s say, revealing outfits. I don’t know who said these sell.

I was always uncomfortable with it. I don’t know why. But I knew if people bought the paper it is not because of these women on our masthead.

And so I took it down. I haven’t conducted any survey on whether or not our readers disagreed with my move but I’d like to believe they did not. I haven’t received any e-mail or phone call demanding I bring the old masthead back.

And if you haven’t noticed, I no longer publish contestants in beauty pageants in their bikinis. Again, this is something I have never been comfortable with.

I am not exactly a fan of beauty pageants, see. I’m not discounting the glory our beauty queens have brought to the country but bikini-clad women in the paper? I don’t think so.

We all shout about trying to eradicate the image of women as sexual objects. We have got to start somewhere. If refusing to publish women in bikinis is that start then I believe we are on to something good.
I shared with them how stories on rape are always the most difficult to handle. As a matter of policy and preference, we hardly touch rape stories because of the heavy implications on both the victim and the accused.

Not that these stories don’t deserve attention. But precisely because these deserve more attention than the fleeting reporter could ever give.

Given the sensitivity of these stories, splashing every detail of it on print is as traumatic as the crime. And if the accused was in fact not guilty…that will forever weigh on the conscience of any publication.
So there.

Participants were given the chance to field their questions and all in all it was a healthy discussion about advocacies, government policies and virginity, among others.

I ended my impromptu speech by stressing while we try to be sensitive to gender issues, media must at all times try and uphold accuracy in reportage and must not discriminate between man and woman.

I never tagged myself as an empowered woman. While I could take credit for the hard work I have been putting in the past years in this profession, empowerment came early even before the advent of this “advocacy”.

Thanks to my parents, mainly.

But anyhow, it is nice to share an afternoon with women with varied stories of life. Rich tapestry, indeed, this world has.
Happy Women’s Month!

Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on March 14, 2014.


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