Hello my dear readers, how’s life treating you so far? I’m pretty fine here, dealing with rainy season in Jakarta and pushing myself to predict the weather for the sake of my laziness in carrying umbrella in my bag. LOL. Anyway, several days ago, a friend of mine shared her opinion about how women mostly treated while walking in the street. That’s pathetic and tragic *sigh* I was so moved and couldn’t agree more on her piece. Well, then, why don’t we read it together? And feel free to comment on it 🙂
If You Have Nothing Nice to Say, Don’t Say Anything at All
They say the Indonesian society highly values manners, politeness, respect for others, all in all a “civilized” society. While, sure, like most Asian or “Eastern” societies, Indonesians put emphasis on respecting the elderly, acting within certain social norms and a tradition of communality, I can’t help but became irate at some of the things that occur on a daily basis and people think is “normal” and therefore “acceptable”. It’s nothing new and this is something that has angered me for almost all of the time I’ve spent living in Indonesia and it continues to do so. I’ve probably ranted about this a few times here on Facebook and on twitter, but this is probably the first time I decided to actually post a whole writing on it.
So here’s the deal: verbal harassment of women.
While most verbal harassment issues relate to couples already in relationships, what I wanted to bring up here is verbal harassment done in a broader sense. One that is so commonly practiced, people merely turn a blind eye against it.
Imagine a woman walking on her own, passing by a group of a single male on the streets. That male catcalls her, or calls her out, or makes a comment on her physical appearance, or jokes around with his fellow men that they’d like to “get to know her”, or remarks upon how she walks, or how heavy the load she’s bringing is (while making an offhand comment about helping, yet not actually doing so), or any other unnecessary comment that merely aims to catch the attention of said woman.
Imagine how uncomfortable the woman becomes. Imagine the unsettling feeling of fear she goes through simply to walk by. Imagine her hurried steps as she rushes to return to the comfort of her home. Imagine the disgust she feels at being stared at like she’s some attraction to gawk at.
How would you feel if the only time you could ever feel safe was in the confines of your own home?
How does this not restrict women from being independent and venturing into the world on her own?
How do you expect women to survive on their own when they have to walk with a male companion simply to evade these discomforting remarks?
Women can’t even dress how they like simply to avoid unwanted attention by perverted men who can’t keep it in their pants. A guy could walk around however they like and people wouldn’t give a damn. A girl wears shorts and a simple shirt and she feels like people are ready to swallow her whole. How is that fucking fair?
I’m not saying this is exclusive towards women. I’m sure men getting unwanted attention from women may feel the discomfort. But if a girl were to catcall or make a remark on a passing male stranger, she’d be considered slutty. If it were the other way around, people wouldn’t even blink an eye. How is that not sexist?
And I’m not saying all men can be generalized like the illustration I gave above. Men can be civilized. I have friends, colleagues and acquaintances who I can vouch for that. So why can’t all men be equally civilized?
OK. I may be taking this too seriously. These guys are just joking around, some might say. But that is exactly the problem! Who the hell thought it was OK to make women the object of a joke? It was and never will be OK to make a remark on someone’s physical appearance, whether they’re “conventionally” attractive or whether they don’t fit into your cookie-cutter mold of beauty. There is no right in this world that allows you to call a passing stranger chubby or fat or make any other offhand comment about how they look. Even close friends tread carefully around jokes regarding physical appearance because it is simply not nice.
The society revels so much in its diverse culture, broadcasting its pride of multiculturalism. But where is your respect for others when they fall out of the conformed paradigm of what you consider “pretty” or “handsome”? Why would you preach “Bhinneka Tunggal Ika” when you look down upon Indonesians with darker skin and call them “black”?
What makes it OK for you to be judgmental upon other people when you, yourself, do not want to be judged?
I am sick and tired of not being able to walk around the streets without wanting to punch every guy I pass who makes a joking comment. I am sick and tired of fearing for my own safety when stepping out onto the streets unless I dress like a freaking nun. I am sick and tired of not being able to be in my own skin for fear of judgmental individuals. I am sick and tired of a society that claims itself to be “religious” and of moral values, but has no decency in the way they act and speak.
And if anyone says that it’s a girl’s fault she calls upon unwanted attention simply because she isn’t dressing “appropriately”, then I say eff you. When a girl is raped and she gets blamed because “she had it coming”, then I would very much like to bang your head against a brick wall to try and put some sense into you. And if any woman still thinks this kind of behaviour is OK and it should be the girl taking precaution, I say where is your self-worth?
I am not speaking as a feminist nor am I saying this because I’m a girl. I simply believe that everyone is entitled to being treated equally as a human being: with respect and dignity, with the ability to feel safe and secure as who they are in their society, with the comfort of being able to stand on their own two feet and not be reliant upon others, with the chance to simply be yourself without judgment.
To men and those who have sons, husbands, brothers, please advise them to respect the women they know and those they see in society.
To women and those who have daughters, wives, sisters, tell them it’s alright to be yourself, do not feel pressured to conform by society’s demands of how you want to be. Your self-worth is only measured by yourself, not by those around you.
To people in general, seriously stop making remarks about a person’s physical appearance, whether mild or crude, whether its complementary or degrading. Unless you definitely know for sure that the person in question is OK with it, just keep your damn mouth shut.
I feel like I still have a lot to rant about, but I’ll stop here. Before cuss words start spilling out.
Peace out, peepz.