After the indignation comes the introspection*. For the first time, I watched "Harry and Paul" on BBC 2 nights ago to see what the show was all about. I appreciate British humor most of the time but "Harry and Paul", I found very difficult to get.
I caught a skit about an old American couple in a restaurant talking with a group of Japanese tourists. The Americans were behaving how you would expect Americans to behave --- chatty, lively, and showing pictures. The Japanese tourists were also behaving like how you would expect Japanese tourists to behave -- smiling, nodding their heads and taking a lot of pictures. The next skit was about a man with an strong accent and who was acting like a brute. I didn't get that one at all, perhaps because I have no idea of what stereotype he is portraying.
I realized that "Harry and Paul" uses stereotypes to generate comedy. That bothered me a lot. That meant that they used the British stereotype of Filipina maids for their skit. The skit was funny to the British because they see in that maid their own Filipina maid. Get it? It is an absurd extraggeration of some truth like how the Japanese tourists in their other skit would take pictures of everything. In Europe, that's really how people see the Japanese---as camera clicking smiling people. Which lead me to ask myself, are Filipina maids and Filipinas in general really seen by the world merely as gyrating sex toys?
I think we can protest our lungs out about skits like this or about the word Filipina defined as a domestic helper in the dictionary all we want but it won't change anything. Protesting will not change our image as gyrating domestic helpers. The only thing that will change our image is if we manage to create enough jobs in our country so that we can stop sending our women to be commanded to gyrate abroad.
How can we protest when the truth is Filipina domestic helpers are our best export product? Isn't it true that there are millions of Filipina domestic workers? I met a British woman in the Englishforum a few years ago and upon learning that I was Filipina she immediately asked if I could work for her. She had a Filipina maid in London and was so pleased with her. Unfortunately, I am not very domestic so I declined the offer.
If the British government and the BBC defend the skit as an "absurd comedy" that shouldn't be taken seriously then they should ponder why they find the exploitation of Filipina women funny because I will never ever --absurdly exagerated or not-- find the exploitation of hard working Filipinas funny.
*I am at home sick with the flu so I have a lot of time for introspection.