“Pssst! Ganda naman ni ate!”
“Hi miss seksi, smile ka naman!”
“Good morning, Miss Byutipul!”
The act of whistling, shouting, or making inappropriate comments (usually of a sexual nature) to passers-by who are most-often-than-not, females.
The statements above are just few examples of comments often directed at women of today. And despite being framed as compliments – these statements are NOT okay.
“The streets have become a jungle – full of predators lurking at every corner, waiting for a chance to pounce upon an unknowing prey.”
And while some may argue that these are just meaningless words and that no harm is completely done, most people can attest to the contrary. These words – while empty for some – carry enough bulk to burden its recipients; these seemingly pointless statements, as it piles up one after the other, becomes heavy at some point.
More than Words.
However, there are cases wherein these calls don’t remain as words but rather, evolve into the physical – manifesting through groping, acts of lasciviousness, harassment, inappropriate actions, and at the very worst, sexual assault.
Because of these, girls constantly have to look over their shoulders; they become conscious of what they wear (despite it not being an excuse to be catcalled); and they constantly worry for their safety. Sure, some men may claim that not all guys are the same, but the amount of male catcallers had ballooned into a significant rate to the point that you can’t really blame girls having trust issues and social anxiety especially in the metro streets.
The effects of these events don’t just stay in public but transcends to even the private lives of individuals. Catcalling results to emotional and psychological trauma which leads to a tendency to be closed off from other people, ending in social isolation. Even one’s mental health may be affected, thinking that it’s their fault that they experienced what they did until ultimately, they begin to question if maybe they are to be blamed after all.
But this is a completely wrong notion. Ladies, what you wear should not dictate the actions of people around you. You shouldn’t be held accountable for others’ actions. You have the right to express yourself without the fear of being criticized, ridiculed, or in this case, abused. IT IS NEVER ABOUT WHAT YOU WEAR. Because whether you’re wearing a sweater and pants at the mall or a bikini at the beach – you are never asking for it unless you specifically and explicitly stated so. Consent IS consent and they should learn how to respect that.
Even if they come up with arguments like “hindi ka naman mabiro” (“why can’t you take a joke?”) or “ikaw na nga pinupuri” (“you’re just being complimented”) do not let them turn the situation on you as if you’re the bad person for being uncomfortable with their jokes and so-called compliments. Speak up for yourself and don’t be afraid to call them out (except of course, in extremely dangerous situations.)
Making a Stand.
It may be uncomfortable to talk about especially for victims, but opening healthy discussions can also pave the way for improvement. Because of these movements lead by various organizations and groups (e.g. Catcalled in the Philippines), bills and laws have been passed that ban and penalize offenders around the country.
Read Also: What Kate Spade’s Suicide Tells Us
This is a small feat for us but the battle is far from over. Hopefully, one day we’ll be able to completely eliminate this disgusting act, not because people are afraid of the repercussions but simply because they know that it isn’t the right thing to do.
As what is often said, people should not be warning their daughters to be careful in the streets. They should be disciplining their sons to be respectful and to act with civility, wherever they go.
For the record, I am not generalizing the male population because I am friends with great guys who actually despise these acts and I know men who experienced being ogled and assaulted too. This is NOT okay either, and I hope they get the same amount of support as what female victims receive as well.
At the end of the day, it all boils down to being decent human beings who actually knows their limits; human beings who has the intellect and will to take responsibility and accountability over their actions; human beings who are completely capable to think before they act; human beings who actually embody being human.