A concerned citizen’s guide on how to deal with creeps and catcallers

Catcalling isn’t exactly breaking news when it’s 2017 and you live in a country run by creeps. Women experience it in its many uncanny incarnations: There’s slut shaming, body shaming, and the classic wolf whistle to name a few. It doesn’t help that pervs and trolls are always easily spotted yet rarely rightly reprimanded.

While there may be remarkable efforts to make our society a lot safer than it is — like the Safe Streets and Public Spaces Act of 2017 filed earlier this year — the truth is that “you cannot pass legislation to ban sexism and gender bias merely by providing penalties for offenses,” says Atty. Amparita Sta. Maria, Director for Urduja Women’s Desk, Human Rights Center in Ateneo Law. It takes more than a bill to battle everyday, normalized aggressions.  

Last week, the media discovered that even social media has become a colossal breeding ground for preying perverts. A quick search for “Pastor Hokage” on Facebook, and you’ll find groups of men stoking their kinks and fantasies by sharing photos of women they find online.

While the best thing to do here is to report in order to take the page down, it also helps to engage. Remind them that we are actual people who can talk and demand respect, and not just objects they can swap like shiny trading cards. The war against creeps is rarely waged in silence. Talk to the admins. Did you find someone you know? Before unfriending them, it may help to actually confront them.  

If any of those Pastors slips a message like this in your inbox, or even just a “Hey, cutie,” or a dirty dick pic, answer back with your wittiest comeback or just tell him to stop outright. If he’s not getting the message, post a screenshot and tag him online.

“The folksy advice to ‘not feed the trolls’ has been around since they first appeared in chat rooms in the’ 90s. Not engaging only allows the troll population to proliferate unchecked,” says Office of Culture and Design director Clara Balaguer.

If any of those Pastors slips a message like this in your inbox, or even just a “Hey, cutie,” or a dirty dick pic, answer back with your wittiest comeback or just tell him to stop outright. If he’s not getting the message, post a screenshot and tag him online. Sometimes, creeps only have the balls to make their move when they think no one else is watching. “If the trolls get too violent, block them,” says Balaguer. “But only after screengrabbing for posterity and having your way with them a little.”

In the streets, creepiness lurks in corners where men also come together. There are the usual jeep and tricycle terminals, construction sites, parking lots, and school canteens. Director of the UP Center for Women’s Studies Dr. Sylvia Claudio explains that catcallers are often found in groups, like a pack of wolves waiting for their victims, “as long as men are together and they’re feeling their power, and no one among them is practicing decency.”

Catcallers usually repeat the habit when they think they can always get away with it. “Answer back as needed and as often as humanly possible,” advises Balaguer. “Document aggressions. Try and exact real world consequences when you can.”

They shout their suggestive “Hi, ganda” with a wink, and throw their “Smile ka naman diyan!” like a harmless command. When we’re alone and we can manage a confrontation, it helps to talk to them like decent human beings when, clearly, they’ve forgotten how to be one. Look at them straight in the eye, no shy smiles and no apologies. Instead of hurling judgmental remarks, keep your calm, be firm, be direct, and just point out the offense and tell him you feel harassed. “Walk away when you’re done,” says Balaguer. “Your point has been made. On to the next battle..”

Catcallers usually repeat the habit when they think they can always get away with it. “Answer back as needed and as often as humanly possible,” advises Balaguer. “Document aggressions. Try and exact real world consequences when you can.”

When harassers are in moving vehicles, note down the plate number or take a photo when you can. Just the fact that you’re recording it is enough to intimidate them.

Consider also the instances when men think they can traumatize you enough into wanting them — case in point: some sick psycho flashes his dick or jacks off in front of you. When acting on this poses more threat to your safety, the wiser move is to maintain distance, find the nearest enforcer, or take a photo or video to intimidate and report to authorities. “Unless a woman thinks that she can count on a law enforcer who is nearby,” advises Sta. Maria, “then it is better to ignore the men but make sure to report them so that at least they can be warned.”

In a misogynistic, machismo society, the greatest irony, as Claudio points out, is that men desire to control everything and yet they can’t control themselves. Women, whenever their rights are being threatened or violated, are still the ones who carry the burden of being told what to wear, how to behave, or how to react.

If it’s late at night and there are a couple of them whistling at you from god-knows-which shady corner, the safest route is to find the nearest person in the street and walk beside them. In the dark when there’s clearly more danger and someone decides to follow you, walk briskly and find the nearest lighted place, like a 24-hour convenience store, or enlist the help of bystanders, guards, or police enforcers.

All that said, the reality is that while we need to know how to stand up for ourselves in the face of perversion, there is only so much an individual can do when the streets (or an entire country) is beset with collective creepiness and misogyny.

“There should be education and training of all sectors: students in educational institutions, government officials and employees and the general public,” says Sta. Maria. “We have brothers and male friends, ask them at least not to be quiet, and to intervene,” adds Claudio. “The way to protect yourself is to join a movement. There are advocacies we need to commit ourselves to. We have to answer this threat collectively.”

In a misogynistic, machismo society, the greatest irony, as Claudio points out, is that men desire to control everything and yet they can’t control themselves. Women, whenever their rights are being threatened or violated, are still the ones who carry the burden of being told what to wear, how to behave, or how to react.  In a culture where stereotypes and dress codes are laid out like strict directives on how to live a woman’s life, the greatest advice, is ultimately to regain control, say your piece, and act how you want to.

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#culture #gender

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