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Sacha Guitry once said, "You can pretend to be serious, but you can't pretend to be witty." Oh yes, I'm the great pretender.
(pilot episode: 20 January 2004)

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Let’s Talk About Sex

In our latest Fabcast, Migs asked me what I thought about something that Danton Remoto reportedly said, that going to the bathhouse is “an unhealthy expression of sexuality.” Listening to how I fumbled for an answer, one can figure out that I was caught unaware by Migs’ question.

What flummoxed me was that a statement like that would be attributed to Danton Remoto—he who has been in the forefront of a very public battle for gay equality and rights. It almost sounds like he was quoted out of context. Or if not, then it sounds like one of those deliberate sound bites he tossed to the media in an attempt to get the more conservative sectors of our society to consider him as a serious Senatorial candidate.* *(A reader named John messaged me on Facebook, claiming that Danton was misquoted. Full message will be posted here in The McVie Show.)


Obviously I disagree with that statement. And my disagreement clearly shows the difference between my views on sex versus how sex is viewed by the general Filipino populace, raised by the standards of the Roman Catholic Church. There already lies the disparity. They say “procreation,” I say “recreation.” They say “copulate,” I say “fuck.”

But in the end, a tomato is still a tomato and a potato is still a potato. (Let’s call the whole thing off.)

Look around, everywhere you turn is sexual, it’s everywhere that you go. Sex is so natural. Animals do it without getting bothered whether they are “copulating” or “fucking.” And while monogamy does exist with certain species, most animals do it because Nature has hardwired into all living creatures a very basic instinct: survival of the species.

Conservatives will argue that sex among humans should go beyond basic instincts because, well, we are more evolved than animals. Thus we have sex not just so we can ensure our genes will be passed on; we also have sex because: [1] it is the highest expression of love between [2] two people of [3] opposite genders who [4] have come together in sacred matrimony.

Whew! That’s four qualifications. Four rigid “musts” that should be present; otherwise, any kind of sex not covered by that (or one or more of the “musts” is missing) is considered unhealthy and a sin.

See what my problem is with the Church’s stand on sex? It is so limiting and narrow.

[1] Why can’t sex be just a friendly fuck? Or why can’t people have sex purely out of lust? Why can’t sex be viewed as recreational, a physical activity unlike playing tennis, where two people come together, sweat it out, then shake hands at the end? [2] Why can’t three or more people have sex with one another all at the same time? [3] Why should it just be between a man and a woman? [4] Why is sex limited to within matrimony?

And why is it that someone who questions these things is suddenly labeled as unhealthy? A slut? Immoral? A published author on bathhouses? (Ay.)

It’s about institutions (the Church and, sadly, the Philippine government which kowtows to the religious powers) that insist on putting a specific and quite deep meaning to an act that, at its core, is as natural to us as breathing. “Oh, but we shouldn’t reduce sex to something primal!” they counter. My dear monsignors and fathers, I have no intention of seeing sex as merely primal—there is nothing “primal” about preparing for sex, cleaning up oneself, buying condoms and lube, making sure there’s a safe place to do it, etc. Sex is a deliberate act. It is also an act that can be quite meaningful (physical expression of love between two people), somewhat meaningful (a playful romp between fuck buddies) and completely meaningless (anonymous, furtive sex in public bathrooms). And besides, monsignors and fathers, you’re the ones who give in to primal urges when you break your vows of chastity and become cover stories of Time and Newsweek. (And yes, dear monsignors and fathers, you were being quite deliberate when you were breaking your vows.)

But let’s go back to the original question: is going to the bathhouse an unhealthy expression of sexuality? For me, the bathhouse is not the issue here, for it is only a venue for sex to happen. The core of the issue here is the going into such places to have random sex. And I believe ultimately it is the “random sex” that throws the conservatives—gay or otherwise—off. (I can almost hear their unspoken grumblings: “Why are certain gays so lucky? They can get away with having venues and opportunities where they can have sex with almost anyone?”)

Yes, random sex can be unhealthy and unsafe and an irresponsible act. That is, if the persons doing it have an unhealthy view of sex, an unhealthy view of their bodies, and ultimately an unhealthy view of their self-worth. (It doesn’t help that narrow-minded views on sexuality produce people who are raised with guilt about their bodies.)

But if two healthy, consenting adults were to meet up and agree to have safe and responsible sex, then I don’t see any problem. The bathhouse just provides a relatively safe, clean and private alternative, as opposed to public toilets in the malls or in MRT stations.

Of course the Church, while being monolithic, has members who aren’t as medieval in their way of thinking. But as a monolith, it needs to make one stand on the issue of sex. Okay fine, well and good. But just don’t expect that everyone will agree to that stand. And there should be a live-and-let-live attitude towards those who disagree, even those who aren’t believers of the same faith.


Anonymous said...

amen to this.

we have to make our own choices based on our own sets of values and beliefs.

i have a problem with people who shove their worldview on us like it's the damn Truth.

blagadag said...

during my recent vacation, random sex happened in one dark street near my house (blame it to davao light and power company for not installing street lights to poor communities). my partner shoved me to a baby banana plant where i can hold on to it while he pumped his thing inside my ass. now, if that is unhealthy, i submit. who cares? the following day, i had recreation looking at the leaning baby banana plant while dreaming of another good good fuck.

rudeboy said...


You don't normally write this lengthily, Joel - or at least not since I started following your blog. You must feel really passionately about this issue.

Interestingly, even within the gay community I have found that bath house habitués have been looked down upon by other PLUs. Adjectives have ranged from "cheap, "dirty", "sex-crazed" and "pathetic." So it isn't really just the Church and the straight establishment who seem to have issues with men having random sex with other men in more-or-less "safe" venues.

A most thought-provoking blog post.

GB said...

The act of sex is something that has been a debate for ages already. It has become a best-selling commodity. But it also is a reason of some hideous crimes that tore many lives.
I don't know. Maybe we should restructure our morals and attitude towards our view of the sanctity of sex. Members of the Catholic church are guilty of the sins they throw but the high priests don't recognize the very culprits of what they call "inappropriate" sex acts.
Or maybe, the church is just limited to conveying their interpretation of biblical and "moral" (conventional & conservative) beliefs. I remember one priest who said that the final decision rests upon the people's hands. He quoted, "If mankind is to change for the better, but not necessarily biblical, then be it. Our scriptures, not only the Bible, are just pieces of paper waiting to be read." He added that if immoral acts, like premarital and same-gender sex, become moral in the future, then be it. Morality is driven by the society and the church is just a simple guide to it.
It's always hard to meet the "standards" when your bodily fluids are acting the opposite of what your mind tells your body.

joelmcvie said...

@RUDEBOY: I wrote lengthily merely to make up for the lack of blog entries lately. =)

marniboy said...

Lenghthy but substantial. I say to each his own, Catholic or non-believer alike. Lahat ng sector ng lipunan may tinatagong "baho" dapat ipa alala ng gobyerno na bawat desisyon may kaukulang responsibilidad may limitasyon, hindi lang tungkol sa SEX kundi sa karapatang pantao ng mga lalaki babae bakla bata etc.

~Carrie~ said...

Yes, random sex can be unhealthy and unsafe and an irresponsible act. That is, if the persons doing it have an unhealthy view of sex, an unhealthy view of their bodies, and ultimately an unhealthy view of their self-worth.


E said...

Walang basagan ng trip! MABUHAY ANG BATH HOUSE!

iurico said...

this post is well-worth my Sunday morning read.

Live and let live indeed!

Désolé Boy said...

MCVIE!!!!!late na late ako sa balita...
hindi ka na pala belong saming mga NBSB..hehe

congrats sa new found love. am so happy for you.

-your fan here

Thad said...

Some people will always have a view different than yours, and as long as you are firm with your principles and beliefs, it's better to just ignore all those accusations and negative comments. You don't have to feel bad or feel the need to justify yourself.

We all have the capability of making our own choices, its just sad that people lack respect for other individuals- fellow human beings, and insist on their own beliefs and impose these. I'm inclined to think we'd have less crimes and trouble if people are also less vindictive and judgmental.

Cheer up Mcvie :-)

joelmcvie said...

@THAD: Thanks for worrying, but I do not feel bad. =)

lorienimladris said...

You hit the nail on the head, Joel.

One of the many reasons why I left the Catholic Church.

Compelling blog post.

Anonimus said...

You are such a Madonna fan! LOL. And it shows in your prose (to the tune of Vogue):

"Look around, everywhere you turn is sexual, it’s everywhere that you go."