A FEW THINGS WORTH MENTIONING
Another take on Hayden Kho and related sexcapades
RENATO REDENTOR CONSTANTINO
July-August 2009 Double Issue
For Letty, Dudi and Karina
I know a little a bit about this country. We're like the title of that ZZ Top song, "I'm bad, I'm nationwide."
By the time this mag's issue comes out in print, the whole Hayden Kho scandal will have been replaced by a new lurid episode in our nation's affairs. Who knows if we'll be none the wiser by then?
It seems to be our lot nowadays. We are the sum of our moments and lately our moments have not been so good.
It seems voyeurism has been one of our more enduring afflictions, long before Youtube became the germ-carrier of choice. And who's to say it's not amusing or fascinating?
There's a difference of course between the urge to peek and the complicity of actively watching, but it floats notoriously left and right depending on who's doing the viewing and who's being viewed.
Common knowledge sources tell us that in clinical psychology, "voyeurism is the sexual interest in or practice of spying on people engaged in intimate behaviors, such as undressing." But it also says that "[i]n popular imagination the term is used in a more general sense to refer to someone who habitually observes others without their knowledge, and there is no necessary implication of any sexual interest."
Ever tried visiting the Facebook page of a high school classmate, with more than just common internet surfing interest?
What about the young woman at the other end of the bar the other night, the one who was quietly sniffling and weeping and telling her companion stories about her emotionally retarded boyfriend? She looked distraught and you found yourself thinking "Yep, her beau's a dick".
Remember the couple making out in the dark blue car near the Intercon?
You might call adulthood a proximate station between wisdom and impulse, enjoyment and restraint. Between enlightened acts and preventable, colossal mistakes. Maybe this is why most teeners are in a hurry to reach the age of sanction.
Some of us strive to extend all forms of shelter to our kids, driven by the awareness of terrible things that our world today is capable of exacting, or memories of our past transgressions. At the same time, a different compulsion appears to push the other way just as strongly for those determined to instill in their children the value of independence so that they may go out in the world and learn, and maybe even contribute to its betterment.
And so we arm them with the rudiments of discernment, hoping that in all the moments they will inevitably confront -- when age tests them again and again and tempts them with interesting and dicey situations, they will exercise good judgement.
But short of hand-holding our children till they pass the age of thirty, for which we will rightly earn their eternal enmity, that's about all that we can really provide to our kids.
Past a certain number of years, though a certain level of responsibility is expected, so long as no harm is inflicted on others adults will still act as if they're entitled to err or bend or break some rules that children are forbidden to encroach.
Is there anything really to excise from the example of the unfortunate Dr. Kho and his predilection for viewing his sad glory with the women he tricked into intimacy?
It seems there's little else to add in a case as widely discussed as Kho's sexcapades. Yet there's still a few things to say.
An obvious thing -- to think of Hayden Kho and the humiliations he visited on his partners is to ponder over questions that relate both to sons and daughters and what we teach them.
It deals with how much importance we give to nurturing self-esteem, knowing that we live in a milieu that accords a premium to insecurity - the better to move products that are supposed to sell sure fire secrets to manliness, acceptance and beauty. For is this not what the present demands of young people today -- that they may only reproduce notions of self and individuality ironically through conformity and the act of purchase? In Kho's case, it was the digital medium and it still did him little good.
For all the wealth and career success of Hayden Kho -- for all the attention provided him by attractive women whose affections he courted -- his need for self-affirmation remained unsated, the films he made of himself appearing more as measures taken to overcome deepseated deficits.
The elements of refuge and contentment that young people need today are not located outside our families. In our brood, biological and otherwise -- this is where the sense of worth needed by young people is cultivated. The self-respect of those who have discovered or are just discovering the intricate arithmetic of relationships -- the additions and subtractions of self-discovery, and the multiplication and division of joy and intimate love's many sadnesses.
When they need us most, will we be there?
The question need not allude to the moment of crisis. It should point to the period when conversations with our children are established, so that they may find beyond the parent they have the friend they need, if not as confidant then at least someone they know they can laugh with and cry with. For what else are the adult lives that we their parents lead other than lives that deserve mirth, tears and ovation? Don't tell them lessons. Tell them stories. Your stories.
We may not be able to relate to everything taking place today, with all the bewildering adventures and accessible wildnesses currently available to young people, where technology is only one among many conduits of self-exploration.
"The favorite pastime of the boys was handkerchief snatching," attests a 1938 high school yearbook of a Philippine coed academy. "Pleasant... but expensive for the girls."
How ancient such flirtation must seem to young people today, many of whom are already engaged or may soon be engaged in riskier, or even dangerous adventures. If we expect them to lead fulfilling --and safe -- lives, perhaps we need to be more than what we think we are right now.
Notions of sexuality change with time, including fantasies, and as they grow up young folks will steadily realize that the more years they add the more black-and-white things appear gray. As we try to keep up -- with our worries but also with our ambitions of happiness for our kids -- we need to remind them, and ourselves, that we are with them not merely to supply regulations and edicts (God knows they need rules) but also to provide color to the places of gray that they encounter, to give them the companionship they could do with to surmount the dark, meditative days that will inevitably come, and the silly cheering squad for the ambitions (or lack of one) they wish to pursue. #
Not to trivialize things, but a final point needs to be made: let's not forget the inconsequence of song selection -- choosing "Careless Whisper" should have acted almost like a guarantee that only renditions of bad taste would follow. #
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