Netizen Posts Scary Street Harassment Experience: Who Is To Blame?

Netizen Pauline Anne Basco posted on Facebook about her harrowing experience with street harassment, and has gone viral since, with almost 12,000 shares after just a day since posting on her social media page.

You can read her post in full below:
Street Harassment 1 Street Harassment 2Street Harassment 3

The sad thing is that Pauline is not alone in her experience — just take a look at the hundreds of status messages that have popped up on Facebook and other social media, detailing the horrors that women go through when they are being harassed on the street.

As appalling as it sounds, catcalling (Whistles and jeers of Hi, sexy! from strangers), inappropriate touching (panghihipo) and other unwanted attention that make women uncomfortable are now common experiences, and just one of “daily hazards” that women have to go through when they go about their day. All of my female friends have had their own stories to share, and so do I.

When I was 16 and a college freshman, I was on my way home to the province from Manila for the weekend. As it was a bit of a long ride, I had fallen asleep. In the middle of the trip, I woke up and found the collar of my shirt just slightly lowered to reveal a slither of the underwear I was wearing, and a middle-aged man sitting beside me, pressing me intently against my side. He was whispering all sorts of lewd things to me. I should have gone up and called him out. I should have informed the conductor of what was happening and transferred to another seat. But as a naïve 16-year-old who was in shock of what was happening, I just sat in my seat, frozen, clenching on the handle in front of me, waiting for what was the longest ride ever to end, or at least until the creepy man got off the bus. I should have known better.

The usual reaction — almost reflexively, even– from listeners upon hearing stories of street harassment would be “Eh, ano ba kasi ang suot mo? Baka naman kasi masyadong mahalay.” (What were you wearing? Maybe it was too revealing.) While the sentiment is well-meaning, as countless traumatizing encounters from girls all around will tell you, these abuses happen regardless of what a girl was wearing.

In Pauline’s case, she was wearing her school uniform in all instances. When it happened to me, I was wearing a T-shirt and jeans. Moreover, this reveals the faulty logic and double standard that prevails in dress codes and socially acceptable wear for females: Women are not encouraged to wear “revealing” outfits (I put quotation marks in “revealing” as you can be surprised at some people’s definition of what revealing is) in the workplace, because it can “distract” their male colleagues. What about females? Who distracts them? Doesn’t this even insult men as it implies that they are unable to control their urges?

To be vigilant and wary of potential dangers when you’re out is one thing. Yet, it is also another to place the blame on the victim, as the harasser should not even be harassing in the first place. That’s basically like blaming someone who got robbed for his own misfortune and letting the thief scot-free, rather than condemning the thief and letting him pay the time for his crime.

And who wants that?

Thoughts on this? Share with us in the comments!

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