I was catcalled today.
I was catcalled before my graduation, I was catcalled on my way to work, I was catcalled while I was at work, and now, I am cat called yet again.
But this time, I cried. And I cried real hard. The kind of crying you probably last experienced when you were 4 years old—bloody knees with rock fragments on your freshly scraped skin, hot tears drowning your cheeks and lungs that can’t seem to know how to be, you know… lungs; with your mouth and your chest as confused as your feelings on whether to give or take much needed oxygen.
I wonder why I cried.
What is so heartbreaking and frustrating about being harassed or catcalled anyway? I mean, it’s just a catcall. Right? Don’t be so over reactive. It’s not like you’re were raped. They didn’t even touch you.
It’s just a little “hey sexy”,
Just a little whistle as you pass by,
Just a little lustful look,
Just a little “ahhh” repeatedly being groaned loudly right behind you,
Just a little mouth movement sticking their tongue out, showing how they would lick you.
It’s just a catcall. Right?
Or maybe… maybe the person who did that to you is “uncultured”, a not-so-aesthetically-pleasing guy. That’s why you called it creepy. Wait if he’s tall, dark, and handsome. Pano ‘pag crush mo? You would probably take it as a compliment. It’ll excite you, even. You’ll rewind every word, not with disgust, but with delight. Gwapo eh.
So, what can be so awful about it?
I do not know if you have experienced it, but maybe what’s so awful about it is the simple fact that even just for a few seconds, you were seen as though an object that can be used to satisfy their craving.
Maybe it’s that realization of betrayal— that you’re not even demanding men to treat you with the “extra care” because you are a woman, with all the “unfair” connotations that it comes with– that did not even e-v-e-r cross your mind. You’re just expecting mutual respect simply because you’re both human.
Or maybe it’s that moment wherein your hard-earned and re-earned trust in people you’re trying real hard to be civil with– because you’ve been hurt a lot but you don’t want to generalize that all of them are the same, because they’re really not— is crumbling right in front of you again as you hear words or sounds given with the dirtiest intention.
Maybe it’s that split second of being sucked out of security and a sense of safety in a situation which you know you did nothing wrong— nothing wrong in the way you look, in the length of your skirt, or the redness of your lips.
Maybe it’s receiving outwardly-expressed lust ,and being made fun of, and having what you esteem as pure and holy be taken lightly in exchanged of your freely but not easily given civil courtesy.
Maybe. Just maybe.
And oh, why didn’t I fight back? If I was so angry and felt degraded, why didn’t I voiced it out? How about teaching them a lesson? I believe I’m physically strong anyway. I just hiked more or less 15 mountains and crossed 3 provinces by foot, carrying an 8 kilogram bag on my shoulders for 3 days. And shame? I know I have the fierce audacity. I’m the type who speaks out. So, why not fight back?
Well, Maybe there exists a rare combination of frustration, and fury, and helplessness, and hopelessness, and sadness that when combined all together just sucks your energy, your security, and decent mental thinking. Maybe when they all come together, all you want to be is one word,
You just want to be safe. But you don’t know how— so either you fly, or you freeze. You’re not weak, you just— you just want to feel safe.
You want even just one trusted friend to be there.
To cover you.
To nurse your wounded mind and to simply just let you feel that you are being viewed, not as something but as someone.
Maybe when you feel violated, you also feel helpless, that not even your confidence can rescue you.
What adds to the burn is that it’s not your fault. You certainly didn’t “ask for it”. You know you did your part in allowing clothing to serve its purpose; and you did that not because you see them as dogs, that when you just lay bare a bone, they’ll take it as their own.
No, that’s too low.
You treat them with honor. Because you’re a woman of honor.
You give what you have.
It’s not your fault.
And the tragic fact that you’re simply living in such a broken world. And unfortunately, you just happen to have experienced how broken it is first-hand, in a rather sexually harassing way.
But you won’t blame.
Even if every single crease in your brain is telling you that you have the right to. You’ve earned it because they have wronged you.
But you know that despite all this sh*t that is happening, you’re still on the better half of the story.
Because you have something they don’t have.
You have hope.
You have forgiveness.
You have Love.
You don’t want to be numb because you know you’re made to love.
You don’t want to be hurt just because you are hurt.
You know you still have hope because Hope lives in you.
And so despite the unending breakage of your trust, you’re still given the grace to be gentle. You’re still given that tear-stained yet fresh eyes to see people as who they are, people. You’ll still strive to be that sunshine to let the world know that there is hope. That this world, no matter how bad it is, it still not so bad at all.
Even with just a little smile.
Or you looking people in the eye when saying thank you to the grocery bagger.
Or greeting a polite “good morning” to the street sweeper to lift them to believing that there is indeed good in mornings.
Or chatting with the jeepney driver, to let them feel that they actually matter.
Or deciding to forgive, and forgive, and forgive, and trust again and again and again— that not all people will treat you in a filthy way even if it gets broken every single day.
You would still hope.
You would still love.
Because the love that you have is not based on how people treat you. It is not based on how horrible or good you feel. It is an overflow from someone who Loved you first.
We love because He first loved us.
1 John 4:19
To the point of dying for you while you were His enemy.
But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
And so you’ll remember, on those lonely nights with your bloodshot eyes, with curses on your lips that race towards Him who made all things even if hey, this was all your fault anyway. He still said,
Darling, I’ll stay.
When all you are is a mess, and not even you can swallow your own presence but what can you do? You can’t run away from you.
He put his arms around you and whispered, you are of utmost value.
In the desert where you hide, He sees through your lies. Took the hammer from your grasp and with His nail pierced hands lifted your downcast soul,
My child, I will not disown.
And so you can also forgive, and forgive, and forgive, and trust again and again and again that even if people treats you in a filthy way, you can still forgive every single day.
You can only give what you have.
Go. Give. Love.
A Word from the Author
I am in no way saying that catcalling and harassment is okay since there is forgiveness. By all means, no. This message is not to be taken out of context.
I am also in no way saying that it’s okay to do nothing. No. I just dissected my feelings (which is a very tedious work especially for a not-so-honest-with-her-feelings person like me) for the hopes of awakening people, both men and women, that just because they don’t see it happening doesn’t mean it’s not happening (Bautista, 2018). It’s so real and it hurts. Everything you have read, every example, really did happen… to me.
You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives. — Genesis 50:20
And yes, I really did use sh*t. I mean, sexual harassment? If my mom was harassed, I can’t imagine lowering the weight of it down to “stuff”, or “mess”, or “sadness”, or “frustration” or even “chaos”. It is vulgar slang in this context. I asked several reliable people with, like, degree in the English Language and Communication and this does not categorize with other swear words in this context. But this is not an excuse for you to use this freely just because I used it. Context, friends. C o n t e x t. I wouldn’t want to sugar-coat this issue just to cater to legalistic people. Ika nga ni Josh nung minsan sa isang meeting, “kelangan nilang mag level up eh.”
If I may continue,
To all the women, I know sometimes it feels like there’s no hope, I’ve felt it myself but I appeal to you, there is. The enemy would of course always want to steal, kill and destroy what is most precious in us, and that is our heart. Our capacity to love, and endure, and nurture, and restore. Don’t let that gem be taken away from you.
Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.
I hope you don’t let the world make you a hard soil just because people keep stepping on you.
And as for the men, I can never know, let alone measure the intensity of your sacrifices, or the heaviness brought about by expectations and responsibility being put on your shoulders, whether it be reasonable or not; or how you, despite your outright tough facade, is also very much tired, wounded, and is in need of love. Perhaps because of your family: Your father— who didn’t show you how to be a man, so how would you? He’s not even a good one. I’ll never be like him, you promised. Or your mother, who’s always just too hard so how can you understand? She always hides. Or society, telling you that a “real man” is this and that. You’re a loser if you haven’t had *insert list of achievements here*. Or a woman who has broken your heart, be it with logic or none, is done with love or complete abandon.
I can never know how hard it is to be a man.
But if you won’t man up, who will?
We need you in this battle.
Again the enemy will always try to steal what is most special in you, and that is your strength. He’ll lure you to convenience, complacency, passivity, idleness. It is like keeping a fierce roaring lion inside a cafe. The lion may be air-conditioned and comfy, but that’s not what he is made for. You have strength that can kill a thousand. (Okay, please read in context, friends. I’m not asking you to kill.)
Come to think of it, one man murdered 3 million.
The strength of just one man used in the most crocked and terrible way crushed 3 million dream and more.
Finding a fresh jawbone of a donkey, he grabbed it and struck down a thousand men. — Judges 15:15
Just one man.
Bali, ilan ka?
It’s a lie of the enemy that you’re insignificant. There is no other man who can replace you in the arena you’ve been called to. If you leave your place in the line, it will remain empty. (Wild at Heart)
Each one of you will put to flight a thousand of the enemy, for the LORD your God fights for you, just as He has promised. — Josuha 23:10
That’s just one. Ilan ka nga ulit?
Now, imagine more.
Thousands of men using their true strength not for themselves, but to share God’s love.
And so the enemy wouldn’t want that against him. And so he deceives you that idleness is your place.
Complacency is okay, everybody’s into it anyway.
Passivity? “Why does it always have to be me?”
Convenience, “c’mon, can you ladies just do it your own?”
Another thought, If God is all knowing, He probably knows that the serpent will try to deceive Adam and Eve, but He doesn’t even give a hint. Why not? I mean ‘di ba? It was the fall. the d o w n f a l l of h u m a n i t y. It’s hell we’re talking about. Why not give a little clue?
Maybe because God believes in Adam. He knows his design. He created him. But He also risked. He risked in giving us free will. Even the possibility of rejecting Him. Because there can be no true Love apart from free will. If you have more questions about why He took that risk, talk to your leader, research about it, go read your Bible or if your too lazy to do that list them down and ask God when you die.
This is what he’s designed to do– to come through in a pinch. (Wild at Heart). Sadly, he denied his very nature. He gave in to paralysis.
Adam was just standing right beside Eve. (Genesis 3:6)
He did nothing. He didn’t risk, he didn’t fight. He didn’t rescue Eve.
Eve failed too but I could write about that in a different post. We’re talking about you here.
If you know what something is designed to do, then you know its purpose in life. (Wild at Heart again)
With that, “If a man is ever to find out who he is and what he’s here for, he has got to take that journey for himself” (Same book. Is it just me or am I giving the slightest hint that I suggest you read it? Hmm.)
Recover your purpose.
You are capable of more.
I do hope and pray that the feelings that were created through these words are not of anger, but of compassion to your fellow men. To disciple them, be patient with them. Love them.
They are just as broken as you are.
There’s probably a reason why we’re wired differently. You understand each other better. As similar to the possibility that you might have been moved with my words, but you will never fully grasp what a woman feels.
And that’s okay.
Because we are different and that’s completely okay. So let’s go to the battlefield with our own unique weapons and slay the true enemy.
We lift up one God. We’re partners here.
What could be another tactic of the enemy to defeat a massive army?
Turn them against each other. Classic teleserye. We have to know who’s the real enemy here.
You have got to take your true strength back.
The LORD is a warrior; the LORD is his name.
This is the image you bear.
A Final Note
Do not put your hope in humanity, we’re all broken here. Put your hope in the One who said “it is finished”.