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Jo-Ann Chats

Sex videos diminish us all

Filed under: Uncategorized — admin at 8:12 pm on Wednesday, May 20, 2009

We’re at an all-time low.

Today’s voyeur scene is alive and well and overrun by sex videos. There is the Katherine Luna and ex-boyfriend sex video. There are the Hayden Kho and Brazilian, plus celebs, sex videos. And there is the threat of even more sex videos exploding, one of them reportedly involving a young star with an impeccable image. But of these, it is the Hayden Kho-Katrina Halili sex video which is currently all the rage.

RAGE.

That, in fact, should be the dominant word in all this. Rage that has nothing to do with being hot, even if these videos are the hottest ticket in town; rage that has only to do with feelings of revulsion and repugnance.

For these are the exact emotions we must be feeling—if we’re to remain human, if we’re to deserve the consciousness that alone separates us from the animals we share this earth with.

Equally vital, we must feel just these for the right reason.

And the right reason has to be that, with every second these videos are viewed, a human being is violated, and that, with each violation, the entire human race is diminished just that little bit more.

The women on that screen did not know, and did not consent, to being the lead players in a sex video.

Or, if initially they had knowledge, they’d been made to understand that these were for their private use, and they never at any time consented to having the videos go public.

Those captured moments were part of the natural, transactional intimacy between the women and their lovers. That is obvious. And in that setting, certainly, they’d undress. Certainly, they’d kiss each other wherever and whenever. Certainly, they’d abandon reason to lust, be servile and slavish or dominant and in control, whichever makes them happy. And who’s to do otherwise? That is what lovemaking is!

Unfortunately, we’re a society with an unhealthy discomfiture and curiosity about sex. So caught up are we in our religiosities and small-mindedness and duplicities, we’re conditioned to see sex as a thing to hide. We’re prudes, in short. As such, many of us-the female species included—look on with both scorn and envy at women with fearless views about their bodies and their sexuality. (Say I’m wrong.)

Back-ending this ugliness is our double standard of morality. We’ve heard this line to death, but it was true then and it’s true now. We’re not distressed just by sex as a subject, we’re especially distressed by it when it involves women. We’re also idiotic enough to think that men lose nothing, even if they’re the studs in the sex video and never agreed to perform for strangers. We just assume the men score. We just know the women are ruined.

It’s not even because we put women up on a pedestal, or respect them inordinately, or feel this compulsion to protect them. No, every day that is getting harder to believe.

Because, if that were so, we wouldn’t be making a fiesta out of viewing these videos that violate women!

We wouldn’t be standing around our desks and calling everyone to come and watch—like it was just another television show, like it was entertainment, like no real lives were involved.

We wouldn’t be hosting small private parties and showcasing these videos via high-definition equipment, while we sipped our drinks and made polite dinner talk.

We wouldn’t be texting friends to provide the links to these sites.

And we wouldn’t be snickering and guffawing, while slobbering all over the place with lewd jokes.

Nope, the only reason we distress over women in these videos is because we think they’re cheap. We see them as beneath us. They give us a bad name. We fancy ourselves never getting caught up in something like this. From our safe little worlds, we think we’re above it all.

Wrong!

In the first place, why should making love be beneath us? What’s abhorrent about lovemaking? As to never getting caught up with love and lust—why, that’d be totally missing out on one really robust human experience! And if we actually place ourselves above all physical intimacy—not as vocation and choice, but as issue of distaste for the act—that must be when our hearts are shriveled, like sun-dried prunes.

And why can’t this scandal happen to us? Or to our sisters, nieces, cousins, daughters?

Katrina was a pretty, 21-year-old who was earning her keep in 2007, when she fell in love with Hayden, then a handsome, 27-year-old doctor of medicine. Except for the fact that the doctor was publicly known to be the boyfriend of Vicki Belo, a doctor much wealthier and far older than he, there was nothing especially scary about him. And except for the fact that Katrina was already FHM’s sexiest woman in the world the year before, and would be voted so again that year, there was nothing especially different about her.

She was just a young, liberated working girl, full of life, with the world before her—much like our sisters and nieces and cousins and daughters. And like many of these girls, at some point Katrina fell in love, and gave her all to her man.

She was also not an insensitive girl. In my interview with her early this year, for YES! Magazine, she acknowledged that Vicki Belo was an issue in her relationship with Hayden. This is how she handled it: She played the suffering wife. Her man and Vicki could go out in the open and enjoy their partnership; she would stay in the condo and wait for when he could find time for her. She never imposed on his schedule; she waited, even if oftentimes she cried while doing so. By denying herself the pleasures of having long conversations with him, of eating out in restaurants with him, of attending showbiz events with him as escort, she believed she was already paying for her sins to Vicki.

By her reckoning, she was behaving as decently as any woman in love could. A woman, by the way, who had been told by her man that she was his other partner “in a parallel life.”

Since then, she has admitted on national television: “Ang tanga-tanga ko. Pero na-in love ako. Pasensiya na po…”

Indeed, how was she to know this doctor would have a fetish for videos? How was she to know there would be a sick environment around the good-looking fellow—of a world seemingly measured by luxury goods and travel, with friends he has wronged and who hated him, of a whole value system neither educated nor decent?

It is she who has been violated here. It is Katrina who has been abused—not once, or twice, but thrice! First, when her lover took videos of their most sexual moments without her knowledge and consent. Second, when some heartless bastards uploaded the videos on the Net. And third, when an unthinking, unfeeling public viewed the videos and enjoyed themselves.

KATRINA’S VIDEOS. As early as May 9, with the rumblings of a Hayden sex video starting to mount, I told the PEP staff that no way would we upload. This didn’t even have to be about Katrina, whom I  know personally. This could’ve been about any girl, a complete stranger, and I would still say no.

I don’t even think anyone should ask why. It is just so plain and so clear, there is no need for reason or discourse. It just takes instinct. Intuition. Reflex. It’s a gut thing. A sense of right and wrong kicking in. A universal moral language, if you will.

This is a video, after all, that has pained, tainted, exposed, stripped naked, humiliated, and practically killed the soul of a girl of 23. This girl, whose only crime is that she fell in love with the wrong man, now suffers the once-pure joys of her affections and trust being made entertainment fodder by anyone with access to a computer. She is a woman against whom stones have been cast.

Let me make this clear again because I will not align myself with the censors of this earth: I am not revolted by a sex video because of its scenes of intimacies in bed—or on the couch or in the powder room or wherever two consenting adults desire to unleash their love and lust at each other. The moments between lovers—be they gentle or wild, physical or verbal, cerebral or carnal—are to me an issue of joy. I maintain that making love has to be one of the most powerful intimacies of all time.

But these sex videos circulating of Katrina Halili and Hayden Kho are a different matter altogether. They no longer fall under moments between lovers. They’ve become moments of monstrous aggression by one partner against another.

Hayden has shamed and disrespected Katrina, a woman who had loved him with all the faith of her youth. And whether he ever loved her back or not, he had no right to put her in harm’s way. Even if he never intended for the videos to be found by another soul, he had no right to include an unsuspecting girl in his inglorious playtime.

Hayden Kho should not be allowed to live this down for the rest of his natural-born life.

On May 10, the first video arrived in PEP, along with three screen captures. They were sent by some anonymous bloke who probably thought he/she was doing us a favor. Well, wrong again. I refused to even look at the video or the pictures. There was never any upload.

As the days passed, we heard about more videos. These were now reaching private emails and more sites. Still, PEP would not budge. Instead, I called Omar Sortijas, Katrina’s handler. Beyond my instinctive response, I wanted to know the facts.

Did Katrina know the videos were being taken?

Omar says, “Alam ni Katrina yong sumasayaw sila, at yong dalawa pa, na nagsasalita pa siya. Pero ang alam niya, pinapabura niya right away kay Hayden. Ang alam niya burado na.”

What about a fourth video that is said to be the most graphic?

Omar says, “Iyan talaga hindi alam ni Katrina. Naka-webcam ata iyon.”

Omar also says that they’ve spoken to Hayden, who finally admitted to having made four videos. Hayden has also given them the names of the only other people with a copy of these videos—people he is said to strongly suspect caused the upload of the videos on the Net. Katrina’s father and some lawyers are already meeting to help out Katrina. Prominent personalities have also begun to speak up on her behalf.

But overall, emotions aren’t stable. For a long time, Katrina felt down because her mother, who has not spoken to her because of this scandal, finally got on the phone with her a few days back, only to end up giving her a big, angry sermon. She may deserve it, Omar admits, but it is not something she needs now. In fact, Katrina told Omar, it is something she cannot handle now.

Then just before she went onboard for the May 16 StarTalk interview, Katrina seemed  all right, was neat, and fairly composed, Omar says. But when the questions started coming, she just broke down and couldn’t stop. Everything was captured on TV.

But more recently, she was buoyed up again, this time by calls from fellow young stars, all of whom felt very badly for her, and the seeming helplessness of it all.

I said to Omar that I was thankful Katrina was a strong girl. Another girl might have been suicidal by now. But I was taken aback by Omar’s reply. He said, “Natatakot nga ako. Kasi ang batang iyon, pabigla-bigla magdisisyon. At malakas ang loob niyang gawin ang gusto niyang gawin. Kaya hangga’t maaari, ayoko siyang naiiiwan mag-isa. Paggaling ko ng taping, takbo na ako run sa kanya kaagad.”

THE PRESS. I’m buoyed up myself by colleagues. All the ones I spoke to uniformly feel disgust and sadness with the sex videos. At a press conference for Sharon Cuneta’s latest album of kiddie songs, Children’s Rhymes and Lullabies, I was at a table with various writers. Here is what they had to say:

Mario Bautista, who writes for the Manila Bulletin, among other print outfits: “Hayden and the people who posted it in the Net should be taken to court.”

Rowena Agilada, columnist for Tempo: “Nakakaawa si Katrina kasi affected ang career niya. Wala na siyang trabaho. Di na siya kinakausap ng nanay at kapatid.”

Nora Calderon, contributor to PEP, referring to Hayden Kho: “Wala ba siyang nanay o kapatid na babae?”

Remy Umerez, columnist for People’s Journal: “Dios na ang bahala sa kanila.”

Another person at the table was Baby Gil, VIVA Entertainment Inc. vice president for corporate public relations. She said: “The people who did this are sick!”

I myself thought of all the sickos out there doing harm to Katrina, and I asked myself what the giant GMA-7 is doing for her at this time. She is now in the fight of her life. She’s fighting all these sickos on all fronts, and she needs every bit of help she can get from a company she has served well.

Finally, I asked Allan Madrilejos, the editor-in-chief of FHM, where Katrina is a favorite cover girl, how he felt. Allan, visibly affected by all this, did not want to say a few inadequate words that were no match for his thoughts. He sent this email instead:

“Katrina Halili’s thread in the fhm.com.ph (http://www.fhm.com.ph/board/index.php?topic=3139.0) is one of the most viewed threads in our forum.

“That it’s buzzing with tremendous outpouring of support for Katrina in light of the recent and rapid circulation of her controversial sexy videos with Dr. Hayden Kho says so much about how much FHM’s only two-time 100 Sexiest Women in The World Campaign winner is loved.

“This is not blind love at play here, but understanding, one that is rooted in respect for Katrina, her privacy, her right to defend herself.

“The unfortunate spread of these sexy videos is totally irresponsible, a low blow that’s very much undeserved. It has come at a time when the issue has been milked dry to its juiciest bit.

“Yes, we know Katrina has made a mistake. She has bravely and humbly faced the problem head on, coming out on national TV in December and later sitting down with YES! for an exclusive in its March issue.

“She has sincerely  apologized for all the hurt she had caused. Hasn’t she shed enough tears?

“We at FHM know Katrina to be a survivor and we sincerely wish she’d summon the courage to fight on. How and when she decides to launch her counter-attack is totally up to her.

“She rightfully deserves a moment to cry, to be outraged, to just be with herself, her family and friends, to evaluate her moves, to pick up the pieces, to move on. It will be a battle, true, but there is strength in knowing there are people who believe in her.

“We wish this could ease her burden somehow.”

If words can make things right… I wouldn’t mind pouring in the words and the emotions that would change things around. Not just for Katrina, but for all the other girls violated by these sex videos, and all the girls and boys who will yet be violated, if shame doesn’t visit us all soon.