chapter  8
Gender, culture and power: competing discourses on the Philippine Reproductive Health Bill
ByPhilippine Reproductive Health Bill MARIANNE D. SISON
Pages 21

Feminist perspectives in public relations have been explored in ethnocentric and organization-centric ways but very little research has examined the intersections of women’s identities, power relations and social change, particularly within the context of postcolonial feminist theory. Except for the work of a few postcolonial public relations scholars (Bardhan 2003; Dutta-Bergman 2005; Munshi and Kurian 2005; Pal and Dutta 2008), public relations research has paid limited attention to postcolonial feminist perspectives. This chapter considers postcolonial feminist theory in analysing the public

discourse associated with the proposed Reproductive Health Bill in the Philippines. In addition, it suggests that public relations plays an important role in bringing about social change in these complex, sometimes opaque, contexts. Postcolonial perspectives, it has been argued, reveal the colonialist and

imperialist legacies that have influenced contemporary culture and discourse. Postcolonial theory aims to ‘decolonize the mind at political, economic, and cultural levels’ to achieve a fair and just world (Dutta and Pal 2011: 198). Applied to public relations, a postcolonial lens ‘exposes attempts by PR theory and practice to communicate corporate goals that coincide with a dominant, largely Western, model of economic growth and development’ (Munshi and Kurian 2005: 515). As such, postcolonial approaches aim to provide alternative and previously unheard viewpoints. However, Spivak worries that in postcolonial scholarship, ‘ideological construction of gender keeps the male dominant’ and ‘if in the context of colonial production, the subaltern has no history and cannot speak, the subaltern as female is even more deeply in shadow’ (1999: 274). Postcolonial feminist scholarship focuses on finding the voices of margin-

alized women or the subaltern, ‘the member of a subjugated group whose position has been hidden from history’ (Lewis and Mills 2003: 10). Postcolonial feminists argue that Third World women are the ultimate ‘Other’, but caution against generalizations that they are homogeneous and powerless (Mohanty 2003; Spivak 1999).