Monday, August 28, 2006

I...I'm Just...I...Well. Okay, Then!

I don't generally make public fun of anyone except our current administration and Mariah Carey. And I don't intend to start now. It's just that when I checked out Patricio Ginelsa's blog for the latest and greatest in "Bebot" comments, I found the following (the comment has since disappeared into the ether, which is probably the way I should leave it but, really, why should I be one of the few who had to suffer through its reading?) made by someone whom—according to her MySpace profile—is a 32-year-old woman living in Ilinois:

Filipinas should be proud of what their momma gave them! Nothing wrong with dancing sexy! The video is about BeBOt! for crying out loud ! Why is sexy so wrong? Many Filipinas are gifted with beautiful bodies, we should all celebrate that and be confident! if you've got breasts, stick it out and be freakin' proud of it! Dance sexy and be happy and let'z all rejoice our "b-e-b-o-t-n-e-s-s"!

Talk about missing the point entirely. Or maybe it's me? Maybe I've lost my sense of humor entirely. Maybe i just need to calm my reactionary ass down and "dance sexy and be happy and...rejoice in...'b-e-b-o-t-n-e-s-s.'"


Joanne said...

I can't believe I missed this one. Maybe I was just too busy celebrating my bebotness....

ver said...

I took a break in celebrating my bebotness to check Patricio's blog again, and girlfriend—obviously not realizing that her previous comment had quite obviously been deleted—left another winner. I'll print it here before it, too, disappears:

It's a BeBOT video! for crying out loud! the women are supposed to act and dance "HOT"! Should they do otherwise, when that's what the video is about?'s ridiculous that ppl can't leave it at that...ALL THIS TIME, so many filipinas are made to feel that they shld. cover themsleves and act a certain way...our bodies are something to be proud of & not to be ashamed of!..It's okay to be sexy if the situation CALLS for it...& this video is the perfect time to dance and act sexy 'coz it's about being a "hot bebot"...Bullshit about how filipinas are being portrayed all over the world...Sure, we/you scholars can worry about the exploitation of women in the Phil. and abroad, but please...stop worrying about videos like this...this is not an exploitation at all...what you should be worried about is your way of thinking that is MALICIOUS, very SELF-RIGHTEOUS & JUDGEMENTAL!...

I don't know about you, but I now feel so free to be sexy. And I'm sure glad she cleared up the definition of "exploitation."

Fritzie said...

OMG VER! This is the exact comment that really BOTHERED me this morning and that I was about to go on a long tirade on the e-mail I just sent you but I opted not to because I should just get a good night's sleep and stop reading these comments!!!

But really, again, I have to emphasize on the point that I do not personally believe that being so complicit in your own objectification that only prepetuates your own oppression is empowering. It's rather quite sad and perverse.

I actually had a conversation with a friend recently regarding the difference between sexiness and sexual exploitation and it's BOTHERSOME how these two things somehow becomes almost the same thing to the point that these degrading portrayals of women are seen as sexy and not as a from of sexual exploitation.

It's really quite hard to be understood these days...

weez said...

I've been hanging back on the whole bebot discussion...which doesn't mean I haven't been thinking about it.

I find myself stepping back and looking at it as a female representation and age problem rather than a filipina one.

The way BEP represents Fergie is the same way that the filipinas are represented, so they are consistent in that fashion. I don't think that the filipinas are singled out in any way.

As to the encouragement that we celebrate our own bebot-ness, I would suggest it is different for the realized woman to be unashamedly sexy, whose objective is to celebrate her own beauty, not to beguile a male audience as to her worth. This is what separates the goddess from the hoochie mama.

Which brings me to my gut reaction to the video - that it is young, and that its audience is young. It is geared towards boys who want to get some, and to girls who think that to get a boy gives them worth. It is geared toward those who have not yet learned how to appreciate multi-dimensional women. Which is to say - not us.

cornshake said...

"This is what separates the goddess from the hoochie mama."

love this--this is quote of the day for me! :)

barbara jane said...

hi ver,

i have been holding back from this discussion because i have been thinking as well about what weez has just brought up. we are not the target audience, and so then what disconnect we are experiencing here i believe has much to do with this. i think this is why it's also quite easy for the folks on patricio's blog to accuse us of our academic-ness, and for folks on lyle's elpeezee blog to use terms like 'armchair activist.'

we're simply not connecting here, as we are a different demographic of the filipina american community. apparently, within that demographic, the terms and standards are different, as are the languages they speak, and sets of aesthetics, etc.

i think this is why it's easy for me to disengage from this discussion. as i have said since the beginning, the video exists in the world of hiphop, and hence the rules and language(s) of hiphop apply. i don't know or understand those rules or the languages, just as many on patricio's blog have no idea what language we 'academics' speak.

i have also been saying that i believe we as a fil am community ought to look elsewhere other than hiphop in order to have a voice. i realize now more plainly why this is.

so i hope you'll forgive me for disengaging. i need to continue to work, to do community work, in the area(s) in which i am best equipped. all my adult life, my work as a writer has always been about pinay voice and empowerment, and this will not change. fall semester starts and i have students to speak to re: the historical sexual exploitation of pinays in poeta en san francisco.

my mistake has been that i have always believed the "white man's" oppression of the pinay, and the pinoy's sexual oppression of the pinay to be similar enough phenomena that the latter needed to be voiced and exposed, almost as if not more urgently than the former.

the reason why i say this is my "mistake" is because when my work indicts the "white man," pinoys appear to stand behind me on this. but when indicting the pinoy, look at the kind of negative "why you hatin on your brothers" reception we receive as pinays voicing pinoy's oppression of us. i realize this statement is cynical, but i also think this may mean i/we ought to try different strategies.

this is a ramble and it is quite long, but thank you for engaging with me on this.

ver said...

Hi All...(this will be a not-quite-thought-through-oh-my-god-tomorrow-is-the-first-day-of-school-and-everyone-needs-new-socks ramble) like everyone else, I've been thinking, too. I've been wondering why—other than the obviously objectionable visuals—this whole thing is bothering me so much. Since when do I care what happens in a hip-hop video? Since when do I spend inordinate amounts of time annoyed about the appearance of a porn star in a hip-hop video? Like you say, bj, hip-hop is a space I don't understand, and am likely not even meant to understand. So this whole experience has been bizarre for me. But then I realized that I'm worrying 'bout my girls, who are very sweet and sheltered in their little playing-guitars-in-the-front-yard lives, but who will soon (and probably sooner than I think) be sitting on the couch one evening watching this type of entertainment. And (again, so obviously) with very few representations available, I worry that the Filipinas in "Bebot"-like videos will be, well, it. This is maybe not a logical leap, but there you go. And so this is why I'll remain in the fray for a bit. Apparently, knocking my head against cement is something I'm okay with.

And now I need to see to those socks (i.e. the area in which I am best equipped!!)...

Fritzie said...

I understand that we are coming from different areas of the community and from different specialization. But one thing that bothers me is that just because mainstream hip hop culture is the way it is, it does not mean that is should be or that it is right. Speaking, as a woman, sister, and fellow human, I am afraid that these representations of women becomes so normalized that people think that it's okay to treat and represent women in these light when it is not okay because it is disrespectful and degrading that even women themselves would then begin to internalize these damaging representations, which I fear is happening. Anyways, I'm rambling, I should go back to work before I get fired.

Gladys said...

hi everyone. i really like the conversation going on over here. i've been feeling kind of exhausted this past week with the bay area trip and the multitude of meetings and family stuff and, in the middle of it all, the "controversy" over the letter. which is why i haven't been piping up on e-mail or elsewhere.

but for now i just wanted to say something about hip hop and my experience with the "culture." yes there are the music videos and whatnot, but a large part of my personal experience has been through my family. both my younger siblings have been members of multicultural hip-hop troupes, specifically culture shock-oakland and culture shock-los angeles. i just saw my younger brother in one of their shows a few months ago. and what did i see? well, not a bunch of hoochie-mama dancers. when i saw women, women of color as well as some white folks, they were dancing something amazing. yes, there was sexiness and colored hair and some skinny bodies, but these women were not there because of their sexuality but because they could dance. in weez's terms, they were goddesses, artists in their own right, rather than hoochie mamas. that was the predominant impression i came away with after seeing these hip-hop dancers. and, as i found out through the printed program and talking with my brother, women, as members of the executive board, were instrumental in putting the show together and running the troupe. what's more, filipina/os were really representing at this show. (at least one of the two emcees, dante basco, was filipino.)

so i have to make this distinction between mainstream hip-hop and self-identified community hip-hop. and the latter seems to warrant more media attention than it does currently. and i would have loved to see the women in the gen 2 video making the kind of jaw-dropping dance moves that i saw in that hip-hop show. because these dancers are out there; they're in our filipino american communities.