Souvenir

I Am Not A Pussy!!!

did-you-just-call-me-sexy

Source: memegenerator.net

Meow…rrawr…nope, that’s not an example of catcalling. Catcalling is a phenomenon which have been occurring for the last 5 years (do correct me if I’m wrong) on Western countries. Most of the reports have come from countries such as the US and UK.

Not a few people are asking themselves, “Is this occuring in Asia as well?”. Well, truth to be told, as an Asian myself, I have witnessed a number of incidents similar to catcalling. Aftere I studied a bit about it for some months, it seems to me that there are several ways to gradually put an end to catcalling in our lives.

Before we begin, it is essential for us to know about the word itself. In Indonesia, there has not been any direct translation of the word. If done so, it would be panggilan kucing (wut?). So, according to Merriam-Webster, one of the definitions of catcall is (1) a loud, sexually suggestive call or comment directed at someone publicly (as on the street).

Do you think it is a normal thing to do? Well I don’t. For the last several years, people have been “experimenting” on catcall. For instance, in 2013 a woman in UK conducted a little experiment to record experience on catcalling herself. As she walks, men are calling her things, from the “mild” ones to the “worst”. In addition, there was a video in 2015 where a girl walked in some spots in NYC was catcalled continuously, and with some following her temporarily. Wow that would be a very bad experience if I was in her position (yep you’re right).

1 out of 10 there is a possibility that a random guy would perform that “call” to a woman near her.

That was several examples in the US and UK. So, how about in Indonesia? Honestly, I have witnessed it myself and I was somehow shocked that this kind of behavior sounds like normal and seems…legitimate (at least to others). When I was walking, waiting for the bus, or just getting a drink from the “warung”, 1 out of 10 there is a possibility that a random guy would perform that “call” to a woman near her.

If 1 out of 10 tends to catcall, how about the 9? Well, from what I’ve personally experienced, those 9 would stare at women’s body, focusing on the breasts and their buttocks, or rear-ends. What do they say to the women? Some would say “woohoo”, “buseeet”, or “hai cantik”. Especially for those with Chinese ethnic background (or lookalike), men would call them “hai meimei/lingling” (a call like girl or sister I suppose). However, thank God that I have never witnessed the men following the women like in the YouTube video did.

For those who does not know the bad impact of catcalling, I would gladly share it with you. Catcalling is an action where it is a form of sexual harassment. The harassment would lead to the victim became a victim of sexism – sexual object. Objectifying the victim will affect her on how she views herself and her position in this gender-structured/constructed world.

Written on cosmopolitan.com, there was a study conducted by the University of Missouri-Kansas City on 133 African-American women and 95 white women. They wanted to see whether there is a connection between becoming victims of the call and any distresses that might occur. The result? They become more fearful of being target(s) of crime. Thus, no wonder if women would not have the courage to roam alone in the street anymore, especially at night.

In addition, this action of objectifying someone else will lead to how a person sees him/herself as an object. The victim will lose their self-esteem and pride. As a result, their mindset would be changed for a very long time, looking them not as worthy as those who perform those catcalls.

Learning that this “disease” (well I am glad I use that word to describe the ongoing situation) is contagious, how can we put an end to this?

First of all, boys must be taught about good manners and the etiquette on interacting with women. In my religion (Islam) I have been taught since I was a kid that “men must lower their gaze”, so that is what I do whenever I see a woman passing by. Not that I am afraid or whatsoever, but it is an autonomous feeling (leads to urgency) which tells me that I should just look on her sides or anywhere else besides her body parts. Moreover, they must also be taught about the old but gold phrase of mulutmu harimaumu (you take the consequences of what you spoke” and kau tuai apa yang kamu tanam (you reap what you sow). These are simple jargons, but it is very powerful (at least for me).

Second, there must be a law to prohibit catcalling. Written on independent.co.uk, a student based in Amsterdam created an Instagram account and she posted videos of her being catcalled wherever she goes. The videos went viral, and everyone have taken notice of her actions. The pinnacle of her actions is how Amsterdam will introduce a new law by 1 January 2018 where street harassment(s) will be punishable by a fine of 190€ (£170).

Last (hopefully more to come in the near future), we should help ourselves and our colleagues to stop performing catcall(s). Change does not come from anyone else except yourself, so we must act in an exemplary way to our surroundings, and the rest will follow. No matter how much videos you posted about catcalls would only be great to show everyone that the threat exists, but it won’t do that much to end the “disease”.

All in all, what I could say is, together we would be able to end these catcalls. Alone can go fast, but together one may go further they say. So, change on how you view women, and make a pledge to yourself on making a change for better future for women to live in.

Reference:

  1. Baxter, H. (2013, July 25). Discover the real reason why men shout pervy things at women in the street. Accessed on November 10 (Source: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/women/womens-life/10202137/Catcalling-discover-the-real-reason-why-men-shout-pervy-abuse-at-women-in-the-street.html);
  2. Friedman, M. (2015, January 21). Catcalling Women Can Have Seriously Dark Consequences. Accessed on November 11 (Source: http://www.cosmopolitan.com/politics/news/a35488/catcalling-women-can-have-seriously-dark-consequences/)
  3. Hosie, R. (2017, October 5). Meet the Women Who Takes Selfies with Street Harassers. Accessed on November 11 (Source: http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/woman-selfies-street-harrassers-harrassment-catcalls-men-instagram-noa-jansma-a7983991.html);

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