PGTW: Free the women

POP GOES THE WORLD By Jenny Ortuoste for Manila Standard-Today, 12 June 2014, Thursday

Free the women

The Movie and Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB) summoned television network ABS-CBN “to explain in a mandatory conference [on June 11] the gender-insensitive scenes in the network’s “Pinoy Big Brother (PBB): All In” episodes of June 4 and June 5 this year.

Various resource persons were been invited to the meeting, including representatives from the Philippine Commission on Women (PCW).

In an information release signed by MTRCB Chairperson Eugenio C. Villareal, the agency “expressed its concern” over the nude painting challenge issued by PBB’s main character, “Big Brother” or “Kuya,” involving housemates Jayme Jalandoni, 23, and Michelle Gumabao, 21.

In the June 4 episode, Jalandoni “initially refused” and “became fearful and cried,” saying Kuya’s insistence that she pose nude for a painting went against her family’s values and religious and moral beliefs.

The succeeding day, Jalandoni chose Gumabao to model with her. The latter “was equally seen sobbing” for the same reasons as Jalandoni.

“The pressure exerted upon the said housemates arguably constitutes moral and psychological violence upon them and may violate their dignity as human persons…

“Moreover, the conflict with religion and the incursion into otherwise harmonious family relations can also border on insensitivity toward the Filipino values of faith and family,” said MTRCB.

The agency also expressed its concern over a “possible lapse in self-regulation on the part of the station.”

According to MTRCB Board Member Alfredo “Krip” Yuson, the agency’s chairperson and directors “have been studying this matter since June 5, after Board Member Leah Navarro alerted everyone about the PCW’s concerns” following the PCW’s request to MTRCB to investigate the matter.

On June 5, PCW said in a press release, “Jalandoni’s initial reactions flashed fear and refusal as evidenced by her crying. Kuya, however, was insistent, even citing the artistic merit of a painter.”

The PCW clarified they are not against women posing nude for art, but that they must do so of their own free will. But the episode, they said, exploited women.

PCW cited Sec. 19 of the Implementing Rules and Regulations of the Magna Carta for Women (Republic Act No. 9710) that provides media organizations “should not induce, encourage, and/or condone violence against women in any form and/or the violation of their human rights.”

Sen. Pia Cayetano, principal author of the Magna Carta for Women said PBB “crossed the line,” adding that the challenge “assaulted the dignity of the women housemates” and was “tantamount to coercion.”

Sen. Nancy Binay also echoed the calls for MTRCB to investigate.

Following the meeting with ABS-CBN yesterday, Yuson said that “PBB will issue an apology” on the show, and that MTRCB “is drafting a new statement as a result of the conference and agreement” reached.

“Moral and psychological violence”, as the MTRCB terms the pressure placed on Jalandoni and Gumabao, while not physical, is still violence and an affront to the individual’s dignity and human rights.

I wrote about rape culture in my column last week, that as long as women are perceived and treated as sexual objects, they will never be safe, not even in their own homes. This PBB incident is yet another example of this prevailing attitude in society that demeans women and disregards their personal rights.

Shame on PBB’s producers for abusing art to excuse what was a deliberate attempt to venture into voyeurism and soft pornography on a general audience show that includes children among its target viewers.

Shame on them for reinforcing a rotten societal mindset and taking advantage of it for ratings and advertising pesos.

Shame on them for selling out their talents and skills to produce work of dubious entertainment quality that hurts and humiliates instead of heals and uplifts.

Willy Revillame’s shows used to do the same thing to women and children. Just a couple of examples: his dancers wore skimpy costumes and gyrated lewdly on his daytime show, while in 2011, he forced a young boy, “Janjan,” to dance suggestively for money.

It’s a relief Revillame’s off the air, but here’s PBB looking to take on his mantle of crassness and insensitivity. There is not enough money in the world to pay for the damage that these sort of programs inflict on the nation’s values and character.

The country celebrates its independence day today, but Filipino women are still not free. They remain oppressed by the patriarchal mindset that drives societal institutions including media, which, by the nature of its position as monitor of society, should know better.

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