A few weeks ago I was sexually harassed inside a bus.
I was on the bus going to Pampanga for work (yes, I commute Manila to Pampanga everyday) and I sat beside this guy and just like the usual I went to sleep after paying the fare. I would usually be able to wake up once the bus is taking the hard turn going to San Fernando, Pampanga and so I did… But this time it was different. I felt the guy’s leg rubbing on my leg and I felt his left arm covering half of my body while rubbing my right breast. I suddenly woke up and he pretended like nothing happened! WTF?! He even had the courage to start asking me questions such as: “Saan ka pupunta? (Where are you going?)” and “Gusto mo samahan na kita? (Do you want me to accompany you?)”
I have been very vocal about my fight against the rape culture as I have been sexually abused before; but when it happened that day, I felt scared, humiliated, and angry at the same time. If I cause a ruckus will anyone believe me? What proof do I have? So when I got off the bus, I ran straight to our office without looking back. I was crying. I didn’t know what to do. It all happened too fast and the bad memories of yesterday flashed back in my mind. And then I asked myself, “what did I do to deserve this? Is this all my fault?”
I know that it can never be my fault but that day, I started doubting myself. I just questioned everything I believed in and fought for. It took a day or two for me to move on from the incident and be able to talk about it without tearing up.
I was a bit appalled when some people asked me, “… But what were you wearing?”
|Dolman Blouson Wide Leg Cropped Jumpsuit from Love Curves | Shoes: Anagon's Closet | |
Necklace: Gifted by Sister-in-Law
First of all, it should not matter what a person is wearing. Sexual harassment is sexual harassment regardless. If a person has been taught and exposed to the fact that women should never be objectified, that we are not mere objects of lust, and that our clothes do not make the decision or give the consent, then we will never have to be afraid of being cat-called or sexually harassed. But to answer the question… I was wearing this jumpsuit from Love Curves. Because, see, sexual harassment is NEVER about the clothes. Regardless of what you’re wearing, you will be harassed because of the person himself/herself and you should never be blamed for it. No one should feel the way I felt that time… I have been harassed yet somehow there are still some people who pointed their fingers at me. What kind of support is that? Why are we even trying to justify the harasser’s action?
There were also some people who showed their support. A college friend of mine even sent me a message about how she understood what I felt that time. She had been through something similar and she knows how scary the scenario can be so we can’t just tell the victim to immediately speak up or fight back. It may be easy for some but it can be hard for people like me who may seem very outgoing but really a bit reserved at times.
We have always been taught to dress “appropriately” so we won’t be harassed. As much as it may sound like someone’s just concerned about our well-being, it still bothers me that because of this, some people have been given the right to shame people and use the way they dress to justify a harassment. Isn’t it about time that we start telling people that clothes do not give consent or to simply not judge, justify, or harass regardless of what someone is wearing?