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Why Are All These Men So Entitled?

These incidents are not isolated.
by Ara Eugenio
Jul 19, 2021

At least three police reports went viral last week, all involving men who want to have their way through difficult situations, all displaying a sense of entitlement.

Arvin Tan refused to pay his SOGO bill and sparked an hour-long BMW car chase in Manila's cramped streets. Timmy Tan was accused of making violent threats to his househelp whose recording landed him in broadcaster Raffy Tulfo's eponymous televised court. Finally, Franz Orbos cursed traffic policemen to let him go because he was someone's son.

There's been no dearth of male privilege here, not last week, not this year, not ever. 

"Berating your household help, throwing your weight around, I can imagine women also doing that especially higher income women. But almost always, in case like this, the sense of entitlement comes from the fact that they're men. They feel that they have to establish their dominance, their power through aggressive behavior," said Nathalie Verceles, a professor at the UP Center for Women Studies.

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It's a man's world

It's unsurprising that men would resort to these kinds of behaviors and reactions when they're in the wrong, Verceles said, noting the world has long-been tilted to favor men.

The reason why men like these three have so much entitlement is more than just them having a bad day, nor is it all because they were raised poorly. It's because society in itself, grants them the privilege to act this certain way, care of deeply entrenched "patriarchal" structures.

If you aren't familiar to the word, patriarchy refers to the domination of the male gender, both in public and private spheres. For feminists scholars, it's used to describe the uneven power relationship between men and women. 

"We excuse our men. We cultivate that kind of behavior when we teach them that they're supposed to exhibit dominance over others. Kahit hindi nga sila niwro-wrong di ba, nag aassert sila ng dominance edi mas lalo na if yung masculinity nila is being threatened," she said.

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Philippine society in particular has a long history of men misbehaving, as normalized by three centuries of Spanish colonization where machismo qualities like male dominance, and emphasis on male virility and sexual conquests dominate. This coexists with marianismo traits such as female submissiveness and sexual purity, psychologist Kevin Nadal noted in their book.

These negative idealized masculine characteristics of dominance, aggression and even violence are conditioned, inculturated, or socialized into by society as appropriate behavior if you're a man, Verceles said, noting men's entitlement above all genders cuts across generations and backgrounds.

This patriarchal system is the same one at work when Lt. Gen. Antonio Parlade "mansplained" actress Liza Soberano last year, talking over her and telling her what she should do as a woman, as if he, a man, would know better than a woman herself.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque was guilty of it when he aggressively responded to Pinky Webb's question. While the CNN Philippines broadcaster responded with a hair flip that was admired by thousands on the internet, correcting the latter's behavior would take more than that. He is still very much a man and a mouthpiece of an administration often criticized for its sexist pronouncements. 

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Other men are victims too, but it's always women who are harmed

According to Verceles, it's not just the women who are victimized by these harmful forms of masculinity. Other men, who "more powerful men"--typically a heterosexual male of high economic stature--think are their subordinates, become victims, too. 

But it's always women and those coming from other marginalized communities, who are at the bottom. "Men of higher economic classes can display toxic masculinity towards men of lower economic status. Pero kapag lower income ka, mahirap to exercise your dominance over those above you, so you tend to exercise your male privilege over women, and other people who have marginalized social identities such as the LGBTQ+ community," Verceles said.

Ask any woman (if you aren't one) who has walked a street on their own or even with a companion. Those "hi miss" greetings didn't get popular for nothing, as even truck drivers on the streets resort to cat-calling. 

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"Para siyang chain, depende kung san ka sa hierarchy pero basta male ka, meron at meron kang maeexhibit na dominance," she said, noting these negative characteristics of masculinity harm people all the time, "hindi lang nababalita". 

Society needs to do better

In the past year alone, countless of men misbehaving made it to the news, government officials with  their sexist jokes included. Everytime this happens, society needs to do more than merely saying "lalake sila eh". 

"I don't think the usual reactions of people to incidents like this are of outrage. As far as I've noticed, Filipinos tend to just qualify these behaviors as bad manners or isolated cases," she said.

"Of course, we don't wanna generalize and say that all men are predisposed that way. But I think it would be fair to point out that men or boys are conditioned by society into this kind of behavior because of masculine culture," she added.

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Stirring a car chase all because you're riding a high end car is not only entitled behavior. It also brings harm to other people on the road.

If you were served the wrong dish by your househelp, the proper reaction is never to demean and subject them to indignity all because they're on your payroll.

Lastly, if you parked on the wrong side of the road, then you should be reprimanded regardless of who your parents are. 

"People think it's 'natural' to display these kinds of behaviors rather than problematize it and interrogate it that it's wrong for anyone, not just for men. Nobody should exhibit this kind of behavior towards other people. If it's wrong, it's wrong and unacceptable. It should be corrected," Verceles said. 

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