"Hi, ganda! Smile ka naman d'yan!"
"Hi, miss beautiful! Tingin ka naman dito!"
It doesn't matter what you're wearing or how you carry yourself–if you're a girl, chances are, you've probably experienced street harassment one way or another. Aside from having strangers demand your attention, random men trying to exert control over you while creating an overall atmosphere of fear is an alarming phenomenon nowadays, and it needs to be stopped.
But how do you ought to react when a stranger whistles or hollers at you? It's definitely not easy to just shrug something like that off, so we've figured these tips on dealing with catcallers might come in handy just in case you encounter one as you turn the corner.
Safety first. Before you make any move, it's always important to remember that every situation is different and there's usually no perfect response for every catcaller. If you're walking at a desolate area at night, or you're harasser is in a group, the best thing you can do is just not to engage a conversation at all.
Pretend to make a call. If you feel like you're harasser is following you on the street, you can pretend talking to a friend or even your parent. Tell your friend or parent where you are and that you'll meet them soon, and make sure to say it loud enough for your harasser to hear.
Maintain eye contact. As awkward as it may seem to be for some, a strong body language such as making an eye contact will surprise your harasser and hopefully make him reassess his behavior. According to Holly Kearl, founder of Stop Street Harassment and author of Stop Street Harassment: Making Public Places Safe and Welcoming For Women, it usually tends to work well because harassers become too shocked to retaliate and it compels them to think about what they've said or done.
Avoid lashing out. It's easy to let your emotions take over the situation, but reacting aggressively can also backfire. Kearl says this kind of response will most likely make the harasser react in anger and violence.
Be assertive. If you're feeling a bit braver than usual, you may tell your harasser (make sure you do this with a firm, audible voice) a negative statement towards his behavior such as, "Go away," "Leave me alone," or "How would you feel if someone does that to your mom or sister?" while mainting eye contact. But make sure to keep moving or make it short so the harasser won't think it's an opening to a conversation.
Being harassed can make women feel different kinds of confusing emotions. Some of you may feel embarassed by the way you responded, but instead of dwelling on what went wrong, always remind yourself that it isn't your job to feel guilty in the first place. We can raise awareness and help eradicate this problem by giving a voice to our experience through sharing it to a friend or through social media.
ALSO READ: Daily Diaries: An Open Letter To Girls Who Are Bullied
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