Y-Speak: Ending the catcalling culture

IMAGINE walking down the street on broad daylight in a polo shirt and jeans. As if out of reflex, the men on your right catcalls you, "Hi Miss", "Hi gwaps".

By definition, catcall is a sound or noise that someone makes towards someone that the latter does not like. Simple. Women are not flattered when complimented on the streets and told how pretty or sexy they look.

Personally, I would just like to hit or gouge out the eyes of my catcallers. But that would be illegal, so I stopped considering.

Catcalling had been a practice by men observed even by earlier generations. How does this become scary and creepy? When we watch old and traditional Pinoy films, we see that most of the catcallers are drunk men at the kanto (street corner).

Our damsel-in-distress Filipina needed to pass through that road where they are drinking. And the catcalling begins. This is where the twisted, ridiculous part comes in: the Filipina just stands there helpless and her knight in shining armor, say Fernando Poe, Jr., comes punching these men.

Here is why this scene is twisted:

1. Again, catcalling is never a compliment. It makes us women disturbed and uncomfortable in the highest degrees. I doubt anyone would ever tell me they found the love of their life when they catcalled her in the streets.

2. Women are very much portrayed as weak individuals who cannot defend themselves and would need an FPJ to save the day, or to punch the men and quench his thirst for violence instantly.

3. Seriously, how exactly are these men raised by their parents?

I would want to expound mostly on my third point. As someone who had been catcalled in the streets several times and have heard accounts of my friends catcalled as well, I notice that lack of moral education and innate respect for people may have caused this.

As a woman and someone who has a baby nephew, I would urge everyone to raise boys that will respect other people, regardless of gender, age, state in the society, and especially regardless of what they wear or what time of the day it is.

Catcalling or any form of sexual harassment boils down to one thing: respect. If we have respect in our hearts, I doubt we would ever whistle to a sexy woman down the street. The argument "Don't you have a mother or a sister?" shouldn't even be used here. People should respect people because they are human beings, and not only because you have a sister or a mother whom you don't want be catcalled as well.

We make this a better world by looking out also on the welfare of other people, and not just of our own or of our family. We make this a better world to live in if we stop blaming women of the choice of their clothing and the fact that they are still out at night. Instead, we target the root of everything: raise boys who will grow as men who will end the generation of catcallers.


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