The views expressed in this article are personal views of the author. They do not necessarily represent the views of Play Without Apology as a whole.
First, let’s talk about what some of you came here for.
It’s been an interesting few weeks for me, guys. I’m not even directly involved.
I’ll get to that in a bit.
Catcalled in the Philippines, a Facebook Page whose advocacy involves speaking out against sexual harassment and micro-aggression towards women, has changed management.
Their head admin has stepped down in the face of mass accusations regarding his previous(?) predatory behavior towards women, his white knighting; some foul play regarding the management of the Page itself, and even talk about previous criminal activity.
Even before the drastic management change, Catcalled in the Philippines has received criticism for their use – some even say abuse – of callout culture. Koko, as admin, has been mighty defensive about that as you can see from the screencap below:
But even with that, we can be critical about things.
Catcalled in the Philippines is a necessary space. It has done great work. And it stands for something extremely important to me and to many other women. I’m honestly HAPPY that admin Koko has agreed to step down and let the Page outlive him. Maybe I’ll be able to support Catcalled properly now.
What got to me was the comments section. Some followers of Catcalled were – are – STILL laying on the praise for Koko; saying he was “such a brave person” for doing “the right thing”, and assuring everyone and their internet doggo that “people are capable of change”.
For a Page that stood against harassment, so many of its followers showed their true colors to us lately.
The mess at Catcalled started when Koko posted a public apology for sexually harassing a girl four years ago. That would have been great, EXCEPT:
- Koko used the Page for his own apology.
- He was responding, specifically, to a Twitter thread where people were discussing some of the shit he’s done.
- He LINKED that Twitter thread directly, with the tagline “you judge”. This could have put the individuals discussing his exploits in inadvertent danger, given the history of his calling for lynch mobs for other CitP posts. The post was later edited after several people personally messaged him about it, though the non-apologetic tone of the original text was unedited.
Full disclosure: the twitter thread was started by Denice, a Site Mom.
Most of the other site moms chimed in, as a light jest to Denice; to share their experiences with Koko, or add what they have heard about Koko. Koko was never mentioned by name in those threads, but the tweet was enough to catch the attention of several other people. Some of them were merely critical of the approach to those who were wronged by Koko in the past.
I can already hear some of you going “Bias!” or worse, “Well you’re sharing the link anyway”.
We’re not asking you to storm his page for justice. We don’t want you to.
But to be absolutely sure you understand, Site Mom Mia has butted in to prepare this very short reading comprehension quiz to deter trolls. You can back read to check your answers.
Which 5 statements have been explicitly expressed in the article so far?
7. Catcalled in the Philippines is not a necessary space.
6. Denice mentioned Koko by name in her twitter thread.
5. You can be critical, but you should not troll Koko and Catcalled in the Philippines.
4. Catcalled in the Philippines has recently changed management.
3. Denice had a thread that criticized the management of Catcalled in the Philippines.
2. Some comments about the management change has been upsetting.
1. Catcalled in the Philippines is a necessary space.
Pass your papers!
The true statements are statements 5-1. You should have gotten at least 3 of them. If you got only 2 or less, double back and read this from the beginning.
Or hey, read on.
Pam here. Let’s continue.
That incident is what started an internet fire that would rage for weeks to come.
People who had been victimized by this admin in the past started coming out with their commentary. On the other hand, people who followed the Page were expressing their support for Koko, and also jumping into the comment threads of former victims.
Do I need to go into how many levels of WRONG this all is? A guy uses an ADVOCACY PAGE for a personal apology, one that came FOUR YEARS TOO LATE for the victim. His supposedly anti-harassment followers start harassing said victim, and others like her.
“People should be allowed to change!” became their battle cry.
I think this happened because under Koko, Catcalled became a cult of personality rather than a space for advocacy. People have rallied behind the person, forgetting the fact you’re supposed to stand for a cause because of the cause, NOT its heroes.
I am so tired of hearing “People change!” It’s just as bad as “Move on!”
This actually goes beyond Koko and Catcalled in the Philippines.
We’re super bad at separating the personal from the political, and questioning our public figures. It’s inconceivable for the average Filipino netizen – as it is for the average fan – to speak “ill” of their darlings. And it gets worse when we feel like we had a personal stake in it, like, you know, being one of the many who voted for a certain President.
The thing is, we HAVE to be critical about these things. The moment anyone steps into a position of responsibility – for a community, a cause, a country, what-have-you – you have to be held accountable for your shit.
You represent something greater than yourself now. To ask for integrity means to BE someone of integrity – and if you’ve done shit in the past, the WORST thing you could do is bury your head in the sand and hope it doesn’t ever see the light of day. This is the Age of the Internet. It will come out.
Whether or not people can change is beside the point, as is the infinite capacity for human growth.
We KNOW that. Falling back on such a defense obscures the issues at hand, and detracts from necessary conversations. Our idols who’ve gone fucked up are, more often than not, not victims. They don’t even need you to defend them. What they DO need is to be taken to town, and it has to be done critically. Lord knows we’re only too inclined to witch-burning rather than resolving these problems properly.
We as an audience, as fans, or as citizens shouldn’t be so quick to forgive.
Apologies are great and all, but they shouldn’t wipe the slate clean.
If you grew up believing Marcos is a hero, sure, whatever – but don’t you dare tell everyone his government victimized to “move on”; or that his family is human and therefore entitled to second chances. Call out your favorite actors when they make hurtful comments instead of defending them to death. If you felt validated by the support you received on Catcalled and you feel less alone, that’s great. But don’t shy away from the fact that its best known admin has a difficult history that he tried to bury.
When you see some hard truths come out about someone you love and you feel your brain telling you “BUT PEOPLE CAN CHANGE”, step away from the keyboard.
Ask yourself why this was the first thing you thought of. My take, at least, is that it’s instinctive for us to jump to the defense of our heroes because it’s difficult for anyone to see someone get dragged through the mud. We empathize with them, and hope that we’ll never be in the same position. In speaking on their behalf, perhaps we’re also trying to assure ourselves that we’ll have people at our own backs when shit goes down. It could also be because we don’t like being wrong about someone, or something.
There’s the rub, though. This isn’t ABOUT you. This is about what your hero is supposed to have stood for, and how badly he or she has fucked up.
Nobody was telling you people couldn’t change, dear.
Criticism isn’t personal.
Real Talk Tuesdays is where we encourage contributors to share their feelings on issues in “the real world” through this column. They may or may not have to do with geeky things. If you stumble across something that you think we’d be interested in, drop us a line!