Monday, September 15, 2008

Read the fine print! The Anti-Obscenity and Pornography Act is just wrong

Gwyneth Paltrow and Joseph Fiennes in a tender and beautiful scene from one of my favorite movies, Shakespeare in Love. According to Filipino lawmakers, this is pornography.

The Anti-Obscenity and Pornography Act of 2008. Wow. Sounds really good, right? Okay, I promised I'd keep this blog fun and shallow but this is an issue Vince and I feel very strongly about—as artists and as Filipinos. The Anti-Obscenity and Pornography Bill may sound great but basically, it says that as long as anything (photo, song, movie, book, etc) causes arousal in a man, it is considered porn. I cause arousal in my husband—am I obscene now? The lips of Angelina Jolie can cause havoc in a man's pants—shall we ban her lips now?

According to this bill, as long as the naked body or the sexual act is described, it is porn. Great works of literature—Shakespeare, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, even the Bible!—have sexual acts in it. Can you imagine Filipinos deprived of these books? Great works of art show the naked human body. Shall we now strip our museums of these paintings and sculptures? I'm not even going to use art as an example. What about our favorite TV shows Gossip Girl, Mad Men, Lost, American Idol (the songs!), The Tudors, Battlestar Galactica, MTV videos, etc? What about our favorite movies? I can go on and on. Even my job is at stake here. If the government prohibits movies, TV shows, books and songs that describe/show sex and the human body, then what the hell am I going to print in OK! magazine?!

Alas for my magazine! Jennifer Aniston's breasts, Angelina Jolie's lips, and the sexy bodies of Katie Holmes and Cameron Diaz will soon be banned by the Philippine government.

While I am, of course, against the exploitation of women and children in pornography, a vague description of "as long as it offends people" and "causes arousal or sexual thoughts in a man" is very dangerous. Who decides what is obscene? And why is it that a woman's body is considered obscene anyway? Besides, absolutely anything can arouse a man, dammit! The bill may start with just breasts but soon our legs, butts, arms, necks, hair, and faces will be used against us.

While this bill hides behind the noble excuse of protecting our moral decency, what it's really doing is attacking our freedoms. Freedoms we women have fought for hard and long and some of us even died for them!

It boils down to this: No one tells me what to wear, what to watch, what to read, and what to do with my body.

This is what will happen to our paintings. Image from John Silva's blog.

This bill must not pass. Please be aware of what our lawmakers are trying to do—stifle our freedom of expression. If you care for free speech, please send an email to the Justice and Human Rights Committee headed by:
Senator Francis "Chiz" Escudero (,
and to its members:
Benigno Aquino III (
Rodolfo Biazon (
Alan Cayetano (
Juan Ponce Enrile (
Gringo Honasan (
Jamby Madrigal (

(That's also a good list of people you should NOT be voting for, if they pass that bill. Why would anyone in his right mind mess with our basic right to freedom of expression??? That's political suicide.)

Please tell them to stop this bill. Please tell them that this bill is against freedom of expression. Please tell them that this bill violates women's rights. Please tell them you are a free-thinking intelligent voter who will not and can not support lawmakers who will pass a bill that suppresses our basic freedoms.

I want to keep my Shakespeare plays, my Bible, my DVDs of Shakespeare in Love and Love Actually, my CDs of Britney, my treasured art prints of Gustav Klimt, my books on Renaissance Art!!! Art is NOT PORN. The human body is beautiful. Sex is beautiful. It is depraved and immature minds that think women and sex are sinful. If you are a Filipino, please support and protect your freedoms. If you are not a Filipino, please blog about this and condemn this bill.

Please please don't allow our government to strip us of our fundamental freedom of expression. Please don't let them make the Philippines into a barbaric state.

For more information on this bill, please read John L. Silva's post on his blog. Mr. Silva is senior consultant to the Philippine National Museum.

*Shakespeare in Love clip from The Oscar Guy. Magazine covers are the March 2008 (Cameron), July 2008 (Jennifer), September 2008 (Angelina) and September 2007 (Katie) issues of OK! Philippines. Klimt art print from my favorite online print store, All Posters.


  1. What a moron must Villar be.. is that to appease Islam again? How many centuries do we have to go back to appease fundamentalists?

  2. Hi Frances. Super thanks for blogging about the bill. This is the first time I heard about it and honestly I'm just infuriated. It's downright insulting.

  3. Hello Anonymous, what shocked me was this passed Congress already (a proposed bill goes through 3 stages in Congress before it gets sent to the Senate). I feel like I've been blind and deaf to what's happening in this country. No one even protested when it was in Congress!!!

    That's why we must make noise now. Stop this bill!

    Hey Kitty, it is outrageous. I've been sending emails to influential bloggers like Bryan Boy and Brian Gorrell to talk about this. Please talk about it, too. Then let's all write to our senators. I'm writing to them, too, but I want my letter to sound respectful and coherent at the same time. And it's not happening yet!!! I'm too upset right now. But I will write soonest!

  4. WTF??! Preposterous! I happen to paint nudes!!!

  5. can i have your link? this is ordinary reportage :)

  6. This news came as a shock to me. How come I never heard about this bill?

    This is really bad for us, especially media people who make a living (mostly) out of Hollywood and local celebs, current events that feature women's bodies on a daily basis. What the hell are we gonna print and show on tv? We're all gonna be out of jobs soon if this pushes through.

    Male arousal is subjective, so who are they to tell us what we're coming out with is porn or not (except of course with the obvious x rated stuff)? This is a clear violation of our freedom as media practitioners and as human beings.

    No to Anti-Obscenity and Pornography Act and Yes to Gossip Girl! :D

  7. Well, sweet siren, say goodbye to your nudes when this bill becomes law. Like my fellow media person lally, I'll also lose my livelihood if that happens.

    Hi ordinary reportage! Sure, link away! Great blog, btw. Very very brave.

  8. What horrible censorship. Good post.

  9. our taxes are just wasted with those politicians.. ano ba?!.. penises and breasts are natural things.. i mean, what's wrong with that?! wala na sa lugar ang pagiging conservative nila! OA na sila!

  10. Whoa, this is definitely beyond ridiculous. Come on, I'm sure these very people who are trying to pass this bill also enjoyed books, magazines, movies, and TV shows that they would not consider porn. That is just hypocrisy.

    Sometimes, our politicians can be too much. They really should learn the line between what is considered indecent and offensive and what is merely an expression of art or even a form of entertainment. And. And...there's just too many things to say. :D

    I never heard about this bill until now. Too caught up by the Reproductive Health Bill issues. Haha. :)

  11. Doesn't the country have more pressing problems for our lawmakers to write bills on?
    Ms. Frances, it's Joseph Fiennes in Shakespeare in Love. Not Ralph. :)

  12. Hi Wendy! Thanks for dropping by. I love your jewelry. Do you ship to Manila, Philippines???

  13. Hay, Nhe, totoo yan. What the hell is wrong with the human body?! Kung umasta sila akala mo wala silang katawan. Siguro kasi panget katawan nila at galit sila sa mga nagpapakita ng kanilang natural beauty.

    So I do agree with Maris--this is simple hypocrisy. Or just as worse, they are just trying to get publicity for the upcoming elections.

  14. Tani, thanks for pointing that out. How embarrassing! I'm a huge fan of Ralph kasi (I memorized his dialogue in Red Dragon's scene where he kills Philip Seymour Hoffman's character!) so I absentmindedly wrote his name!

    But I love love love Joseph in Shakespeare in Love. He was soooo good! Funny, adorable, clever, passionate and so heartbreaking.

  15. This is crazy! I'm so disturbed right now. I'm going to do something about this, for sure; write a letter to each and every one of those involved and perhaps build a site to campaign against it. For now though, do you have any idea where I can get a copy of the bill? I want to read it in its entirety so I can form a compelling argument.

    Crazy! If this bill passes, I might just consider leaving the country for good.

  16. No, nevermind, I found the bill through John's blog. Thanks!

  17. Hi Artemis, thanks. I updated the post to include a link to the Senate's website so other readers can download a copy of the bill.

    My husband and I have never wanted to leave this country. We love it that much! But when we first saw this bill, we really began thinking about leaving. I got really scared--for my husband and myself, for our arts and culture, for our economy, and for our freedoms.

  18. The trysts between aspiring the playwright and the woman he loved are some of the most beautiful scenes of the movie. To me, they represent its essence. Imagine, poetry during sex, that's amazing--very romantic!

  19. Yes, without those intimate scenes, it would not be the same movie. I was watching Brokeback Mountain on HBO and they cut out all the sex scenes. Because of that, the love affair of Enis and Jack became just a torrid thing instead of a deep and sensitive relationship. Also, the marriage problems of Enis and Alma became shallow because their unhappy sex life wasn't shown. And you wonder how deeply-in love-with-Enis Jack ended up getting married to Lureen because it wasn't shown how Lureen practically raped him!

    Sex scenes are needed to tell a human story because humans have sex!!!


Thanks for dropping by my blog! It really means a lot that you spare the time to read... and comment!