Why I growl at catcalling

It happened recently. I had a long day at work. It was already eight in the evening.

What got me through the exhausting 40-minute commute around Metro Manila was the thought of coming home and taking a long, much-needed shower, jumping straight to bed and taking an hour (or six) of rest. (And, of course, with my trusty earbuds).

I took them off once I got off the jeep, my last ride for the day. Then I needed to try not to crawl and walk like a normal person through three blocks to get to the house.

One block. At this point, I could almost hear my bed calling me. There was a message from my aunt, telling me she set aside a dish for me to eat at home. I was already restraining myself from running in fear of getting hit by a vehicle. It was dark and there was no one loitering on the streets.

Two blocks. Or so I thought.

It was dark and someone was looking at me. A man, perhaps in his 30s, on a motorcycle. Probably someone who was also on his way home.

It took me a minute to realize that he had intentionally stopped beside me.

“Psst, ate.”

My boyfriend had chastised me a lot of times before for being too nice, and right then, despite being uncomfortable at how dark and devoid of people the area was, I thought he was just lost and was going to ask for directions.

I was wrong.

I stopped (silly me) and said, “Po?”

“Sexy mo,” was what came out of his mouth before the bastard sped off. All I could do was aimlessly stare at where he disappeared and run home as fast as I could.

Another time, I was with my boyfriend. Similar setting. But the man was inside a car and had a different dialogue. It was dark (again), and we were walking home, and just a few steps to go till we reached the gates of my house when the man decided to stop his car by the road.

Catcalling, according to Merriam Webster, is an act of ‘shouting, harassing and often sexually suggestive, threatening or derisive comments at someone publicly.’ / PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY OF CHANGE.ORG

Unmindful that I was with Jordan, the man had his windows rolled down. He blurted, “Miss, alam mo ba kung saan yung biyahe papuntang langit? (Do you know how to get to heaven?)” from leaving his mouth. I had to restrain my boyfriend from kicking the guy’s side mirror, although the latter probably deserved it.

Reading my co-staffer, Raye Sanchez’s column piece “End the Silence,” made me want to talk about it now.

Catcalling, according to Merriam Webster, is an act of “shouting, harassing and often sexually suggestive, threatening or derisive comments at someone publicly.” It is also not a compliment and is uncalled for. Women and men, but mostly women, at some point in their lives or some, on a daily basis, have experienced it.

According to stopstreetharassment.org —catcalling, among others that fall under street harassment, is “a form of gender violence and it’s a human rights violation.”

But, alas, catcalling forces women to rethink that cute outfit they want to wear or the route and transportation that gets them the fastest to their destinations for fear of having strangers shout, whistle or make gestures over their appearance. But somehow, sometimes, they still end up getting catcalled.

Sometimes it gets to the point when women are afraid of leaving their own homes, traumatized. And when it’s unavoidable, flinching and overthinking every single action someone makes in public, especially when alone.

I carried pepper spray with me as a precaution and spent some nights watching self-defense videos on YouTube just to be sure. When I walk through dark streets, I call my boyfriend and talk to him until I get to somewhere bright and full of people.

Catcalling is one of the grounds for arrest under the Republic Act 11313, also known as the Safe Spaces Act or the “Bawal Bastos” Act which was signed into law in April 2019. It addresses gender-based harassment in public areas, in workplaces and educational institutions, and online, among others, with respective penalties to violators.

Catcalling is a problem that needs to be stopped. Some experience it at a young age, some regularly, some by people who know the catcallers. Others have even experienced more than sounds or words — and it is not normal, not a joke and not okay. It’s not okay to be harassed.

-JP

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Credit belongs to : www.tribune.net.ph

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