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Girl in a jacket

Recent Family Feud PH episode proves that some are still falling behind in gender sensitivity

The afternoon GMA game show Family Feud has been at the center of criticism from several social media users and audiences for its problematic first question during the Team Komikero vs. Four The Love episode, which aired last Friday, December 1.

Four The Love, the group composed of the Top 4 queens in the recently concluded second installment of Drag Race Philippines: Arizona Brandy, M1ss Jade So, Bernie, and its reigning winner, Captivating Katkat. The second season of the first televised Drag competition in the country was one for the history books as it was the first time in the whole franchise that three transwomen entered the show’s final four and the latter being the first transgender woman to win the coveted crown.

For the first survey question that is “hindi ka magpapa-masahe kapag ang masahista ay... [you will not go for massage if the masseuse is…]”, the Komikero, led by renowned Filipino cartoonist Pol Medina, Jr. who produced the legendary Pugad Baboy comic strip, went ahead as they got the top answer of “lalaki [a man]” with 24 points then their team answered “‘di marunong [not skilled]” which was the third highest response. However, the Komikeros were unable to complete the responses resulting in the queens snatching their points and gaining 46 points with their final answer “mabaho [has a bad odor]” ranked fourth with 10.

The four drag performers were visibly ecstatic by their first-round win, cheering loudly, clapping, and jumping up and down. However, host Dingdong Dantes revealed the rest of the survey answers conducted to 100 participants, the second top response was “bading/lesbian [gay/lesbian]” with 19 points, “may sakit [they are sick]” with 8, and “pangit [ugly]” with 6.

The audience and even the contestants themselves went into a collective silence and were seemingly shocked by the second answer. Even Dantes was also visibly shaken, trying to shift the awkwardness of the insensitive, homophobic response by stating at the end, “Paalala lang po, ito po talaga ay sinurvey natin sa isang daang katao at ‘yan ang lumabas. [This is a reminder. This is a survey we conducted to 100 people and this was the results.]”

What happened was not immediately known to many social media users but when Katkat’s initial hilarious and witty answer of “kapag walang paa [if they have no hands]” at the beginning of the game show also went viral on the internet, the entire segment surfaced.

Of course, numerous users across all platforms were weirded out by the question and its response. Multiple individuals are obviously infuriated by the idea that being gay is more undesirable to people than being infected by sickness or having to physically interact with someone who has poor, horrible hygiene.

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Everyone cannot help but ask: what was the thought process? Who thought this was a good idea? Was there no basic gender sensitivity seminar conducted in their workplace?

This was indeed taken from the ordinary Filipinos’ perspective. Nonetheless, it is safe to say that the staff and production team evaluated the surveys and checked their responses before filming and broadcasting them on national television. Why include this type of survey in an episode with Drag Race contestants who proudly embrace their identity as queer, the majority of them being transwomen, and still experience constant discrimination from some people? These same drag queens are aiming to further break down barriers and remove and change harmful and dangerous stereotypes as advocates for LGBTQIA+ rights and representation.

The network’s decision to include this question still felt like an indirect attack on their sexual orientation. If the purpose is to show the struggles of the queer community in the mainstream, it is still not the correct avenue or platform for that. Family Feud, from the name itself, is a family-oriented game show. The queens may not have expressed any negative feelings about this incident as they were carried away with the whole moment, but they appeared to have fun and win the cash prize, not to be the subject of ridicule and malice. Stories are not one-dimensional, and the community has stories beyond discrimination. Stories of triumph, achievements, and inspiration should be the ones amplified, especially by a mainstream network that has sufficient means to spread these causes to a wider audience.

Honestly, this blatant microaggression is not surprising anymore, as it is usually evident in issues like the longstanding debate over allowing transwomen to compete in Miss Universe. Social media reactions are filled with stigmatizing and inhumane responses, along with ceaseless calls for creating a separate competition since the annual pageant is deemed only for “real women,” even from other women themselves. In reality, trans women are women. Although they may be biologically assigned to the opposite sex, they consider and identify as women from the start. They are just forced to adhere to the social standards of that period.

This is a significant manifestation of how deeply ingrained conservative values are in the country. It is true that many of us only tolerate individuals within the LGBTQIA+ community until they start fighting for the equal rights they rightfully deserve. At that point, we easily mock and belittle them. However, it is already 2023, and we are now striving to create a safe, diverse space for everyone, regardless of their sexuality, gender identity, and expression—whatever it takes. Indeed, we still have a long way to go.

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