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Is Angel Locsin Guilty of Slut-Shaming Those Girls on PGT?

We need to talk about that Playgirls episode.
Is Angel Locsin Guilty of Slut-Shaming Those Girls on PGT?
IMAGE INSTAGRAM/jayweehair
We need to talk about that Playgirls episode.

It’s been all over our news feeds; we’ve seen the memes. In the wake of Anthony Taberna’s victim-blaming fiasco comes yet another scandalous media moment gone viral. By now, we’ve all seen and heard about the Playgirls, a girl group who appeared on ABS-CBN's Pilipinas Got Talent that received the red buzzer from Angel Locsin. Their audition piece? Car-washing, or at least attempting to wash an SUV while dressed in black bikinis as they gyrated in front of the celebrity judges and practically for the whole world to see.

The performance looked like something straight out of an R-13 sex comedy, complete with clichés: there was some roof-climbing and sponge-squeezing involved, and at one point, a dancer even poured a bucket of water over her head. Within a few seconds of the audition, Angel hit the red buzzer.

Ako kasi parang hindi ko kaya na makita kayo na nagsasayaw na naka-underwear para lang sa'min,” the actress explained. “Masyado kayo magaganda at masyado niyo 'tong pinaghirapan para gawin 'yan. Kung may talento kayo, 'yun ang ipakita niyo sa'min dahil talent ang hinahanap namin dito, hindi katawan. Kaya ko kayo binuzz, ayaw kong ma-objectify kayo, masyado ako nagmamalasakit para sa inyo para i-go ko 'to at patuloy kayong panuorin ng mga kalalakihan na ginagawa 'yan.

For starters, anyone tuned in to that Saturday’s episode would have been left confused with what talent the group wanted to showcase exactly, other than the vague “Papainitin po namin ‘yung gabi,” as one dancer announced before their performance. This also makes you wonder about the kind of screening standards PGT has for its contestants, and why the producers thought this was "entertaining" enough for prime time when there are children potentially watching, but we digress. Vice Ganda, after all, best said it with, “Kung talent kasi talaga 'yan, kahit naka-pajama ka, naka-belo ka, kung kakaiba 'yung talent mo, makikita at makikita yung talent mo.” In the end, the host voted no and explained that the performance they showed wasn't enough to take home the grand prize of the talent competition.

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In the age of social media and #wokeness where everyone with a Facebook account is a pundit, where do we draw the line between genuine concern and slut-shaming?

While Angel certainly made a good point when she also voted no, claiming that the women are very likely to be objectified by men with their performance, there were those who disagreed with the actress (including the Playgirls themselves, who mocked Angel on their own Facebook pages after the incident), arguing that Angel had low-key slut-shamed the contestants by judging them based on their choice of costumes.

This begs the question: is Angel Locsin really guilty of slut-shaming the Playgirls? In the age of social media and #wokeness where everyone with a Facebook account is a pundit, where do we draw the line between genuine concern and slut-shaming?

There’s a blurred line between objectification and empowerment, and pop culture has long been treading its murky waters; you only have to look at your favorite celebrities’ Instagram pics and the tons of sexualized Hollywood music videos in the past decade for proof. Social media, for its part, has amplified women’s voices around the world now more than ever, bringing us the #MeToo movement, and the ideals that women are free to wear whatever they want, and their outfits don’t mean they’re “asking for it.” It’s a mantra young women everywhere have rightfully adopted.

However, it’s also because of this that others claim the Playgirls were being robbed of their self-expression—possibly one of them was Robin Padilla, who had even asked them: “Ginagawa niyo ba yan dahil gusto niyo? O labag sa kalooban niyo?” True enough, it’s not like they had a gun pointed to their heads as they danced in what was pretty much their underwear. 

It was about awareness and educating young women (who, at that very moment, could be watching the show) that their bodies are deserving of respect.

Yet, here’s the thing: objectification and women empowerment aren’t parallel to one another. They’re not the same. You can walk around the streets of Manila in a bikini and feel empowered. But when a group sells their sexuality through wearing bikinis, while claiming, “Papainitin po namin ‘yung gabi” on TV, that makes it a completely different issue. When Robin asked the girls, “Gusto niyo ba 'yun na mga kalalakihan ay humahanga sa inyo?”, one of the members did not hesitate to say yes. But as long as we’re still subjecting women to the male gaze especially for profit, that’s still objectification—even if it’s a willing one.

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Angel was right when she told Robin that the issue was more than just about whether or not they willingly wore underwear for their dance number; it was about awareness and educating young women (who, at that very moment, could be watching the show) that their bodies are deserving of respect. Because while we can all express ourselves however we wish, true women empowerment means taking ownership of your body and having that self-love and confidence at the same time. That said, allow us to set the record straight: a truly empowered woman would've felt as uncomfortable as Angel did having to sit through that entire "car-washing" performance. As did we.

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