If there’s any soundbite that I absolutely hated hearing in relation to the Hayden Koh sex videos, it’s from Boy Abunda, saying that sex, whether on video or not, must be about LOVE.
Goodness. Is this the dark ages? How many women have been oppressed precisely by this notion of love? I love you girl, therefore sleep with me. This dialogue is what has brought women to bed, before they are of an age when they can handle it, before they are even aware of their bodies. This is what has allowed for women’s bodies to be made into objects, because they enter the bedroom and think, oh, I love this man and this must be the way to prove it.
Love is what has allowed women to imagine love triangles to be acceptable, precisely what has kept all these women in Hayden’s bed and on his camera, what has allowed for Vicky Belo to imagine that she must stay, to prove she loves him.
Talk of love in relation to these sex videos is an injustice to love.
But maybe this is really just us, as audience, in over our heads about these sex videos, enamored with the ongoing debate, the continued media coverage, the chismis. It really is so juicy, yes? But all of these seems like we are, as audience, unprepared to deal with sex as sex, period. Ill-equipped to deal with the kind of technology that propagates videos of two people getting it on. Unprepared to look at sex in the eye and view it for what it is: two bodies articulating desire.
For who’s to say there was sex but no love or any emotions, and vice versa? This is only obvious when the act is done with no consent, and that would make it rape, no ifs and buts about it. And yet this isn’t porn either, nor your usual sexy movie. Both of these are done for profit, and presume what it is that the audience wants to see, over and above anything else.
But these Hayden videos have more than consent, and just run-of-the-mill movie sex. It has enjoyment. It has desire. It has libog, in the Pinoy sense of lust-desire-passion-tulo-laway-bodies-against-each-other-bahala-na-si-Batman sense. Only real life – not necessarily true love – would allow for that kind of desire. And two bodies acknowledging that desire, acting on it, enjoying it, is difficult to ignore. And maybe shouldn’t be debased to the level of just a sex video.
Or easily, and simply, oppression of one woman, or two or three. In the aftermath of these videos, we are told to see only the woman’s body, and how she had no idea something like this was going to be released to the public. All we’ve seen, in fact, and considered, are the women’s bodies. What about Hayden? Is he not objectified as well in this whole enterprise of sex videos? Yes, he taped these sexcapades, but it is obvious that he was not the one who released them. That makes him a victim, too. And he is twice victimized by the fact that no one has seen him as victim. I’m not saying Katrina and the other girls aren’t victims, too, I’m saying that they are not the only ones.
But again, to us as audience, Hayden is not victim because we imagine that he is the one in power here. He’s the one in a position to enjoy the sex, the videotaping, the different positions. But what of the women? Did they not enjoy it as well? Isn’t it possible that in this whole enterprise of sex-video-talk, that we are the ones bringing the discussion to the level of shame and embarrassment?
Isn’t it that it is us, as audience and chismosas, who have oppressed Katrina and Maricris and whoever else will come out in these videos, as women whose lives are now over? And aren’t we the ones to actually, and truly, give Hayden an even bigger ego, as we refuse to even acknowledge that he is oppressed too?
In our insistence that only the woman is oppressed here, aren’t we also allowing for Hayden to get away with it? To get away with imagining his power to be more than it actually is, to be something to be proud of? In the age of masculinity studies and hypermasculinity experimentation, this can be turned around in his favor, you know. And after all, despite the threat of losing his license to practice medicine, he will still find himself a career – if only in the eyes that have objectified him through these videos. And maybe if only as Vicky Belo’s constant man, the one she proves her true love through (an absolute craziness in itself, of course).
In the process, what we fail to do is bring this discussion to the level of sex as truth, as real, and as something that we must all – particularly the women – deal with and be responsible about. In the age of technology, yes, but also in the age of sex without love, or at least questionable/ unstable/dishonest love. Here, women are being taught to have the stomach, the mind, the heart, for every other consequence that happens after the sex. We are being told that we will be alone, with no laws to help us, no reproductive health consciousness to bank on. As such, we must all bring this to the level of responsibility, of talking about it beyond the chismis, of making women – and men – realize that in the end, we do pay. For what our body wants, and for heeding its otherwise normal desires, in the face of a society that has yet to be mature about sex. And love.
Over and above whether it’s on video or not.
*Title taken from Sharon Olds’ poem :
Sex Without Love
How do they do it, the ones who make love
without love? Beautiful as dancers,
gliding over each other like ice-skaters
over the ice, fingers hooked
inside each other’s bodies, faces
red as steak, wine, wet as the
children at birth whose mothers are going to
give them away. How do they come to the
come to the come to the God come to the
still waters, and not love
the one who came there with them, light
rising slowly as steam off their joined
skin? These are the true religious,
the purists, the pros, the ones who will not
accept a false Messiah, love the
priest instead of the God. They do not
mistake the lover for their own pleasure,
they are like great runners: they know they are alone
with the road surface, the cold, the wind,
the fit of their shoes, their over-all cardio-
vascular health–just factors, like the partner
in the bed, and not the truth, which is the
single body alone in the universe
against its own best time.
From Strike Sparks, Selected Poems 1980-2002. U.S.: Alfred A. Knopf, 2004. Page 24.