Netizens wage online war vs. Bench show

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MANILA, September 24, 2014— “Pornographic”, “dehumanizing”, “cheap” and “misogynistic”. This is what a lot of Filipino netizens, most of them women, are calling local clothing brand Bench’s recent “The Naked Truth” fashion show.

Alaina Lenox Becroft stresses, “Fashion isn’t porn. You dont know the real meaning of fashion. Fashion isn’t stripping … Fashion isn’t immorality.”

There are calls on social media to boycott local clothing brand Bench in protest of its recent fashion show, "The Naked Truth."

‘Sexual objects’

Several netizens like Anne-Di Victorino Berdin questioned the motive behind a particular segment where two female models kissed each other onstage.

Berdin explained, “…Female models were seen making out to titillate men were a reflection of how misogynistic our society is…We objectify women to satisfy the male gaze which creates an imbalance between the two genders…It’s not about being conservative or prude. It’s about calling out an act which ‘commodify’ women and treat them as sexual objects so it won’t be repeated again.”

“Was it really necessary to undress your models and have them demonstrate disordered sexual behavior just to sell your products? Were you really that desperate? I’m sure you could’ve done better (and much classier) than that,” Anna Cosio said in a Facebook post.

While only a few watched it in person, photographs taken of the actual event have been posted on social media site Facebook, where they have gone “viral”.

‘Like a dog on a leash’

A part of the show that offends the sensibility of many social media users has actor Coco Martin pulling a woman along on a leash, crawling on all fours like a dog.

Johnny Besa believes the show is about how women’s roles have been “trivialized, reduced to mere objects of amusement by Coco Martin, on behalf of the Bench clothing company, walking down the ramp with a woman on a leash made to do contortionist tricks like a jukebox monkey”.

Cosio, a registered nurse, said the show “stripped the models of their dignity”, saying the show, which was held on September 20 at the SMX Convention center, shows that the company’s values do not reflect most Filipinos’.

She added, “As Filipinos, we respect our women, and we do not teach our men to treat women as objects. This thing that you’re doing is actually promoting the rape culture. This must serve as a challenge for you, Bench. If your products were that good, you will no longer have to use (or misuse) sex to sell them,” she added.

Drea Juan comments, “…I hope more and more women realize how offensive, dehumanizing and misogynistic your values are as seen in your most recent show. Next time you want more media mileage, just say things as they are, instead of hiding a pornographic show in the pretense of a fashion show.”

In a statement issued on its official Facebook page Tuesday, September 23, Bench apologizes to the public “for all the
offensive elements of the show ‘The Naked Truth’.”

It adds, “We will take all these concerns seriously and will serve as a lesson learned when we plan our next show. We at Bench shall continue to uphold the dignity of women and our commitment will remain so.”

“I appreciate that they are brave enough to apologise,” shares Jo-an D. Liwanag. “But what is done, it’s done. Maybe they should stick to their usual fashion show they did a couple of years ago. Sexy but not lustful and degrading.” (Raymond A. Sebastián)

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