The Gist


Whoever said "women are too emotional" needs to see this clip.

/ 21 January 2021

Days following the abrogation of the 1989 UP-DND accord, journalist Pinky Webb conducted a live interview with Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque on CNN Philippines’ The Source to get his take on what has happened, and other national concerns. This is in light of The Department of National Defense (DND) terminating their agreement with the University of the Philippines (UP) that prohibits military and police presence within its campuses, which have allowed activists and concerned parties to hold safe and peaceful protests there throughout the years.

As Webb asked Roque about his reaction to journalist and UP Professor Danilo Arao’s “challenge” to all UP graduates among President Duterte’s top-level officials to denounce this termination, Roque took offense and called her out for what he believed to be an “unfair” question to him: a UP graduate, former UP professor, and one of the President’s highest officials.

He then went on to chastise Webb for putting him in that situation on live TV, all the while talking over her attempts to explain that that wasn’t her intention. The whole conversation lasted for about 6 minutes, with an uncomfortable amount of it consisting of Roque’s insistence to reprimand her. But, the moment that the Internet latched on to and propelled into social media viral-status is the cool and calm manner in which Webb approached the situation, with a few subtle-but-telling facial expressions, and one iconic hair flip.

The moment trended throughout the day on Twitter, with netizens praising Webb’s professionalism. Many also used this to debunk the sexist claim that “women are too emotional” to hold seats of power, may that be in the corporate world, or in national politics, as it was a perfect example of just how capable women are of controlling their emotions in the face of stress or discomfort.

Something that has also been displayed time and time again by Vice President Leni Robredo when responding to critics, journalists Pia Ranada and Karen Davilla when interviewing personalities, and all the other powerful women who have performed their duties with grace and composure, regardless of their personal feelings.

One key word that was used a lot in Tweets regarding the issue was “mansplaining,” a term that might need further definition in order to fully understand why Filipinos—most especially women—were so appreciative of Webb’s response to Roque.

Mansplaining basically depicts a situation where a man explains something to a woman in a manner that is condescending or patronizing. In simpler terms, it’s when a man speaks over a woman to explain something based on his thoughts, while disregarding whatever it is she is saying. Examples of this would often start with phrases like “I think what she’s saying is..”, “What she meant by that is..”, and so on.

This is what many people used to describe this incident between Roque and Webb. And whether it was the Presidential Spokesperson’s intention or not, it was how most people perceived it, based on the thousands of reactions online in support of Webb.

Considering the outburst that the exchange has caused among netizens, it’s very telling of the general state of mind among Filipinos these days that are very vocal about supporting women and celebrating those who set great examples for Filipinas across the board. Regardless if Webb’s question truly was “unfair” or not, the way she handled such an uncomfortable situation on live TV was definitely something to commend and admire. And we flip our hairs to her in salute.