Patriarchy commits crimes everyday. It justifies a man’s bad behavior and calls it a phase; it tolerates his impudence, coddles his violence and easily forgives his moral transgressions. Every time a woman experiences street harassment, systemic discrimination and sexual abuse, patriarchy turns a blind eye and calls it an inherent part of the circle of life — this is exactly what keeps rapists and sex offenders alive.
When I was in kindergarten, a girl in my class was bullied by a boy. He pulled her hair, threw her stuff and laughed when she cried. The teacher consoled her after class and said that the boy only wanted attention because he liked her. The next day, the boy teased her again, but she did’t cry anymore because she thought he was doing it out of admiration.
The common saying that “Boys will be boys,” teaches men to take pride in their shitty behaviors. It enables and normalizes their poor treatment towards women. The stereotype may start very harmless, but they eventually grow into a grave issue when these boys grow up and become the world’s men. The inequality against women exist because society conditions people to look at life from that specific lens.
When I was 16, I was accidentally groped by someone in my class. I was in my school uniform. I yelled at him and he apologized with a smile on his face — like it’s my fault that I took offense in what he did. He was the class clown and everyone somehow bought his role as the rough and vulgar one.
No matter the situation, men are always allowed to trample around, while women have to carry the burden of putting themselves into a disadvantaged position. If a woman was raped or harassed, the first question would always be “what was she wearing?” It’s like being accused of digging your own grave or setting your own house on fire. Society shuns the fact that a victim is never the cause of a rape, and a huge reason why more and more men are encouraged to commit the crime is because they can easily wiggle out of it.
When I was 17, I was catcalled by a group of young boys on an escalator. I was wearing a t-shirt and denim pants. I felt that I could not let it pass, so I turned around and raised my middle finger at them. An old lady saw what happened and whispered that I should have just ignored them.
Society is so occupied to dictating women’s actions that it neglects to teach men to be respectful individuals. Never in my formative years have I heard adults educate boys how to treat women, while the latter are forced to limbo rock around a man’s world every single day. The thing we have yet to discuss is that women, too, have sexual desires but they are decent enough to control themselves. Men, on the other hand, fail to do the same because they are condoned for thinking with their dicks.
When I was 19, I learned that I hate to commute. I was wearing a pencil skirt and a denim jacket. The tricycle driver adjusted his side mirror, so he could check me out. I asked what his problem was and he pretended to not hear anything. When I got off, I did not pay him enough fare. I heard no complaints because he knew exactly what he did.
A decent woman should be allowed to wear whatever she wants because her dignity and respectability is not quantifiable by the amount of fabric on her skin. Her skirt is not responsible for the existence of sexual offenders, it does not provoke ‘sinful thoughts,’ and it is not an opportunity for assault. As Sen. Risa Hontiveros said, “There is no dress code for rape, or for sexual harassment.” Clothes do not cause rape, rapists do. An ‘opportunity to rape’ is only an opportunity in the eyes of a rapist. In 2018, a man in Cebu molested a 4-month-old infant. This alone revokes the entire argument that women are in any way responsible for rape or any unsolicited sexual advances committed by men.
Yesterday, I realized that women look into the mirror everyday and see a figure that is claimed by men. Wherever they go, there is a voice that dictates their roles, responsibilities, limitations, and faults.
There is a common misconception that ‘covering up’ prevents rape — it does not. It is an evil act that is done out of vanity and lack of respect, and women will continually fall as its victims unless we start raising better men. Rapists are not born, they are raised — in a patriarchal society that tolerates and justifies their mistakes. The “beasts” in them are nurtured by this collective macho belief that women are no more than domesticated flesh. Sexual violence is enabled in problematic jokes, sexist prejudices, objectification and gender stereotypes. According to CNN, someone in the Philippines is raped every hour — 24 cases a day and 720 in a month. Rape culture exists at home, in the streets and in the most common places. A rapist at 10 AM is a rapist at 10 PM; a rapist indoors is a rapist outdoors. Women are not responsible for men’s lack of self control.
It must be a nightmare to raise a girl in this modern world. However, it is important to keep in mind that they are mere victims of the situation. They do not hold the solution to the problem. Instead of telling them to shrink themselves down, teach them to reclaim their space and embrace their voice — teach them to be bold. The only way we can eradicate rape is through awareness and accountability. Teach young boys the value of respect and consent, so they may grow up to be decent men. At the same time, let us hold anyone (in general) responsible for enabling sexual harassment — may it be through their language or actions. Lastly, let us not forget that rape is NOT normal. It is not a part of life, it is not biologically innate, and it is not okay.
To answer the most critical question of all, a woman’s skirt should only be as long or as short as she wants it to be. In fact, she may choose to not wear a skirt at all. Don’t ask a woman to change her clothes for a man, ask a man to change his views on women. If you see anything wrong with something as little as the length of a woman’s skirt, perhaps you are part of an even greater problem.
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