Last weekend, there was a reunion of the U.P. College of Law, I went and had a blast. Some of my classmates, former drinking buddies who are now elected government officials, contributed cocktail drinks recipes for my food blog. They happily volunteered, believe it or not, and I will be posting those recipes soon. But I only mention the reunion because of a conversation that took place after the party when a smaller group continued partying at a nearby bar (okay, at my instigation).
It was around 2.00 a.m. when the “extended” party finally broke up. As three of us, two females and one male, were walking to the parking area, we noticed the young people still hanging around in front of the bars. Whether they were saying their goodbyes or still trying to get in, we couldn’t tell. We noticed too that many of the young girls were wearing short shorts.
Now, if you’re the kind of parent who listens to the slang of your teenaged children, you’d know that no one calls them short shorts anymore. They’re called pekpek shorts. My girl friend made a comment about the pekpek shorts and our lone male companion acted like he was about to go catatonic with shock. We were nonchalant and explained to him that it was the new term for short shorts.
Before we reached the parking area, conversation had turned to something else, I can’t remember what as I had more mojitos than I could count (I didn’t drive home, don’t worry). I do remember that our female companion said something and I responded by paraphrasing a line from the movie Swordfish. “But isn’t that cheating yourself? Like fly fishing… All the thrills of the catch but no orgasm.” Again, our male companion went into some kind of shock — he was walking beside me and I saw the sudden rigidity of body. This time, I wasn’t too nonchalant.
“What is it,” I asked him, “you still see us as the twenty-something-year-old girls who flinched at the mention of orgasm or you’re really not used to hear women talk about it?”
Which now brings me to my point. Well, three points.
First, back in 2005, I wrote a column about why Filipinos feel embarrassed to say pekpek or titi (some women even feel embarrassed when the words are articulated in their presence by someone else) yet feel comfortable to say the English counterparts. As though vagina and penis are somehow more clinical than sexual.
I went to the Manila Standard Today website to find the link to the column then I remembered that after the site was overhauled, archives of issues prior to 2007 were not reproduced. And that brings me to my second point. I’ve started building an archive of the 240 something op-ed columns that I wrote between 2005 and 2010 (very few were republished here). I hope to finish before the year ends so that referencing old writings will be easier in the future.
But that column that I was referring to in the above paragraph was among the earliest I wrote so it is already in the archive. It’s called Sex, sex organs and sexuality and it talks, among other things, about the ridiculous practice back in grade school and high school when teachers referred to the vagina as “flower” and the penis as “bird”. Note though that when the column was published in the newspaper, pekpek and titi were bleeped out. If I remember correctly, they appeared as pe***k and t**i both in the print and online versions. And I made a huge issue out of it.
I now come to the third point. I always thought it was a Filipino thing — that awkwardness, that embarrassment to say pekpek and titi, or to write them spelled out correctly. It’s our Catholic upbringing and the guilt about sex and anything sexual. As though the human genitalia and sexual intercourse are dirty and evil at the same time.
Then, I came across an article in Blogher that talks about a tampon ad that was banned because it mentions the word vagina.
Apparently, after this infamous tampon ad was banned from three networks, they reshot the ad and replaced “vagina” with “down there.” Even with this change, two networks still wouldn’t run the ad. Which means they made a tampon ad without ever once referencing the female genitalia. I mean…duh, people. That’s like making a beer ad without ever referencing the mouth, lips, or tongue. Vaginas are where tampons GO.
Whoa. My turn to feel shocked.