TJ and I caught a snippet of a conversation between a male DJ and a female DJ on the radio earlier. The guy was saying that women can’t complain if they get sleazy comments “kung naka-damit taputs sila.” 1 The girl, to my horror, agreed with him.
I probably shouldn’t be reacting at all given that my outrage will be based solely on that short snippet and I don’t have the complete context of their conversation. But that mere snippet is problematic. Essentially, the guy was saying that if you dress like a slut/prostitute/whore/whatever, you should expect to receive sleazy comments.
Problem #1: What is considered slutwear can be pretty arbitrary. Some people think a sleeveless top is already pretty slutty. Some won’t give miniskirts a second glance, while others will immediately whisper about the person who is wearing one. A woman could wear a top that fully covers her torso, but if she has large breasts, there are people who will still think she’s slutty just because of her breasts. You could wear pants, but if they hug your hips and rear, you’re going to attract unwanted attention from people who are helplessly drawn to your curves.
Of course, there are those who will say, “Just don’t wear anything that exposes your flesh and you won’t be subjected to lewd comments.” Initially, it sounds like a reasonable suggestion–until you remember that even women who dress modestly are also subjected to catcalling and sexual harassment.
Worse still, there will also be people who will say, “Well, they’re men. They’re really like that. They can’t help themselves.” It’s one of those comments that give men a free pass, allowing them to be ferocious horndogs who will slobber and paw anyone who catches their fancy. The idea that men are always easily sexually aroused and highly prone to acting upon that arousal is not a hearty salute to men’s manliness; it’s an insult as it suggests that men have no self-control and are animals who are unable to think before acting.
Problem #2: The male DJ’s comment that women should expect catcalls and lewd attention signifies a larger problem: that women and our bodies are considered public property that anyone is free to comment on or touch. Basically, the attitude is that “It’s there, so it’s fair game.” It’s even more insidious when you realize that the same idea applies to objects.
Problem #3: As I said previously, the female DJ agreed with the male DJ’s point of view. I don’t know whether she just didn’t want to argue or she just didn’t have very strong opinions on the matter, but I was disappointed that she didn’t call him out on what he said. It’s a great indicator of how ingrained the virtue of societally imposed modesty is, and how important it is to be a “good girl” and distance yourself from anything that society traditionally associates with being a “bad girl.”
We sat through the radio show for a minute before I turned off the radio in a rage. I was strongly tempted to call the station and tell the male DJ, “Women can wear whatever we want, and it is not your or anyone’s place to judge us or treat us poorly because of what we choose to wear. No one has the right to make unwanted advances toward anyone under any circumstance. Nothing, not even our clothes, gives you the right to disrespect others.”
And while women can expect to be catcalled or harassed, it’s not because of what we are wearing. Rather, it’s because people are essentially trained to react in that manner when they see the slightest hint of flesh and to treat women scornfully if we are deemed vulgar and immodest.
- “Damit puta,” just so you know. ↩