Last month, I was happily walking towards BGC when a motorcycle driver approached me for a free ride to Market-Market. This was my second street harassment (the other one was in J.P. Rizal) that February. I used to walk in that same path to BGC even at a later time but this was the only night that I experienced that street harassment. It might have been a selling tactic of the habal-habal, according to a friend. I was already ignoring his catcalling. However, when the driver stopped, almost blocking my route, that was simply another story.
This is just one of the many street harassments stories. Back in kindergarten, there was a drunkard man who was trying to teach me about numbers inside the tricycle. He was forcing me to count his fingers. My college friend endured street harassers at noon-time when they asked her how much her “price” is. She was just waiting for a jeepney that lunch break. An acquaintance, who was wearing the unconventional boots fashion, was screamed at as pokpok (slut) by street harassers.
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What really fascinates me is how something as abusive as street harassment can be related to vanity. Never mind that any time that people who harassed me last February might bring out a rag soiled with acetone and smother me until I faint. Like when a fine-dining restaurant serves you their priced gourmet meal, even if the food is poisonous, you should be thankful you had that gourmet meal. Hey, you would not even have the decent budget to buy that food. So, never mind the poison. Perhaps, I should have hopped into the motorcycle of that disrespectful harasser that night and believe that he might be my Prince Charming, and then we will live happily ever after. Twisted, I know.
When I tell this story, I cannot help but notice that some people have this unified reaction: “You’re a girl, you must be their type” or “You’re just being an attention-seeker”. Translating to Pinoy layman’s term, there is “G.G.S.S. (Gandang-ganda Sa Sarili) ka masyado”. Mind you, I was dressing old shirt and jogging pants that night for a sports training. I was not wearing any make-up.
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My big question with that vanity argument is, “Am I just one mascara away from being harassed?”
I remember having this experience when my four-year-old nephew screamed at me “Hindi Ikaw Mama! (You’re not my mother!)” when I tried to kiss and hug him. Personal boundaries and safe spaces are so basic that even a child can understand it. So, why minimize the effects of street harassments?
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What truly bothers me is the fact that it was a guy friend who picked me up at the guard station after that harassment incident. He even taught me basic arnis self-defense that same night. No, this is not a romantic story because the last time I checked he recently got married and was happily selecting washing machine for his beloved wife. It is just sad that all the kindness that men make can be overshadowed by bad behaviors like street harassments. So, I really hope that the Safe Spaces bill will become a law soon.
After all, there are still so many good persons, especially men, out there.