Stiletto runs and ignorance

As women increasingly face dangers of assault and trafficking, the PNP Regional Office in Bicol kicks off National Women’s Month with a men’s race in stilettos.

You would think that in the single month dedicated to women’s issues and empowerment, men would at least try suppressing their sexist nature. What, like it’s hard?

Last March 1, the Philippine National Police (PNP) Regional Office in Bicol proudly welcomed National Women’s Month with a strenuous display of solidarity through a men’s stiletto run. High heels on and donning wigs, jewelry, and makeup, these men raced against each other as a symbolic gesture of women’s pivotal role as trailblazers in society.

It’s detestable that a government agency like the PNP would reduce the struggles of women to a stiletto race. This month-long international celebration recognizing women’s disadvantaged position in society entails so much more than empathizing with the physical discomfort of wearing high heels. It honors the women who have fiercely fought for equal legislative rights and economic prospects. It sheds light on the challenges faced by every woman each passing day; from verbal and physical harassment in the streets, unfair work opportunities and wage gaps in the workplace, and cases of domestic abuse and sexual assault at home—to be a woman is to live in constant apprehension. 

So how does running around in stilettos even encapsulate these struggles at all? Not only was the PNP’s flimsy race irrelevant, but it also allowed these cross-dressing men to openly mock femininity and the queer community. Their so-called Women’s Month kickoff was just an avenue for them to express their misogyny and transphobia under the guise of distasteful humor. It was never about uplifting women or promoting a gender-inclusive society, which frankly, can hardly be expected from a patriarchal institution like the PNP. They choose to participate in this national celebration on their own terms and vain understanding.

And they stand by their ignorance, unyielding to any notion of progressive ideals that would otherwise hack away at their dearly preserved culture of male chauvinism. A policeman would go as far as wearing high heels, a wig, and makeup for the hell of it. But where is that level of determination when apprehending a woman’s abuser, in curbing sex trafficking cases, or when convicting killers in the murders of trans women?

The PNP is well aware of their responsibility over the safety and security of women—they have a Women and Children Protection Center for crying out loud—but for Women’s Month, they’d grossly choose to run around in stilettos the way they prance around with their guns. Yet the actions of an institution as large as the PNP extend beyond their gated camps. It signals the rest of society to undermine the adversities of women, all while the country remains one of the most dangerous places for women at risk of trafficking.

This incident shows how crucial it is for the PNP to undergo gender sensitivity training and a reaffirmation of their duties in protecting the vulnerable sector of women and children. But while those will be greatly helpful courses of action (if the agency even considers to implement it), a gender seminar isn’t gonna cut it. You can’t reason with a chauvinistic pig and hope they’ll finally act humane and respectful overnight. A drastic change in internal governance is needed to reset a culture afflicted with corrupted values and finally fulfill the police force’s promise to serve as a beacon of service, honor, and justice.

The reality of women’s struggles is never something to poke fun at, not while thousands of Filipino women are being harassed, assaulted, sold for sex, and murdered every day. We can’t simply slip on our stilettos and go through our day without the fear of becoming part of the statistics. The celebration of National Women’s Month is an urgent demand for action; we, women, will no longer tolerate any more prejudice and ignorance toward our needs and rights. You cannot patronize and celebrate women and maintain a society that is still unsafe for a woman to simply exist in.

This article was published in The LaSallian‘s March 2024 issue. To read more, visit

Lizelle Villaflor

By Lizelle Villaflor

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