It’s a typical afternoon and you’re on your way home from work. You happen to pass by a group of guys as you walk on the street. You try to ignore them as they begin to stare at you.
“Hi, Miss,” you hear one of them say.
“Come here for a while,” another one utters.
After they say these words, you start to hasten your steps. Instinctively, you wish to protect yourself from what they might do next. As you walk further, you hear them whistle and call for you with words that make you feel unsafe. These only diminish once you’re far enough for their calls to die out.
You might be wondering what you did wrong for random strangers to call for you in a sense of perversion. It’s certain that you don’t know them; and in a similar manner, they don’t know you. They don’t know your name, they have no clue of what you do. They treat you that way because, you might think, it’s the look of your outfit or your appearance that provoke them.
I’d like to remind you: it’s not your fault. It never is.
If you have been in a similar situation, you’re not alone.
Cat-calling and wolf-whistles are among the many forms of sexual harassment still rampant in today’s culture. Why are they considered sexual harassment? For one, these acts degrade victims into sexual objects by those who see them for what they appear and base their worth on how they look. It’s not a typical pageant wherein candidates are paraded with their consent for competition to look their best in their evening gowns or skimpy swimsuits. With cat-calling and wolf-whistles, the ones targeted are objectified by whatever thoughts going on inside the minds of the doers. They are forms of harassment because they may affect the victims’ dignity and may emotionally hurt them.
Commonly, most victims of cat-calls and wolf-whistles are women. Men will excuse their behavior by saying: “We can’t help it; it’s part of our nature.” The problem sprouts from this perception when gender stereotypes are being perpetuated by popular belief and absorbed by those who easily agree to it. I accept the fact that the nature of men and women are quite different besides biological aspects, but attitudes can be honed and changed.
Shouldn’t doers of sexual harassment be educated about basic morality which tackles virtues related to respect for everyone regardless of gender? And if they have been educated, shouldn’t they be reminded of this?
For anyone of any gender, it’s never your fault when you have been victims of sexual harassment.
Those who do not understand your situation may explain to you that an incident wherein you were the one being cat-called and wolf-whistled happened was because of the way you dress or the way you behave. But as Lady Gaga vocally expressed in her Academy-Award-nominated single, ‘till it happens to them, they don’t know how it feels. Please be reminded that you did not ask for the doers’ attention in the first place. Accountability and responsibility of their actions are theirs alone.
It’s safe to dress whatever you want in public as long as it doesn’t break the law. It’s safe to act yourself naturally as long as you do not harm others in doing so. Much like the mantra of most millennials these days, just “be who you are.”
So, whenever you are being cat-called or wolf-whistled by anyone in public, you have the freedom to report them to higher authority. As a citizen, that is your right.
You know yourself more than any other person ever will. If others would look at you by your appearance or define you by the way you act, you know you can measure the shallowness of their mind. You know your worth. You know what you do. You know who you are. You’re more than just your face. May your worth resound louder than cat-calls and wolf-whistles.