Many women may have experienced being catcalled—from receiving winks and whistles, to being told by random strangers "compliments" like "Hi ganda. Smile naman diyan!" As a guy, you might see this as a joke, but you should know that the experience can actually leave women feeling violated and scared.
"Kahit na disente naman 'yung damit na suot mo, like in my case, meron at merong mag-ka-catcall na guys. So it's not about what a woman wears," says Pam, 24, who has experienced street harassment. "I'm actually mad at two things: people who perpetrate these forms of sexual harassment and the ones who do nothing about it and put the blame on women."
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Apparently, when men accost women in a public place, he defines her as a sexual object, and would force her to interact with him, says Eric Julian Manalastas, professor of social psychology at the University of the Philippines Diliman.
But why do guys catcall in the first place?
They've likely picked it up from friends or family. Since they see other people do it, they think they could do it, too.
"They learned that it's okay to objectify women, and disrespect women in the guise of a compliment," Yvonne K. Fulbright, Ph.D., sexuality educator and author of Sultry Sex Talk to Seduce Any Lover, tells Men's Health US.
She adds, "They think that their opinion and need to express themselves so publicly is more important and acceptable than offending others. These lines of thinking are bolstered when important other men in their lives hold the same beliefs."
They want to show power. Okay, most women are often told to stay at home. So public spaces like streets have been considered as male territories where they are allowed to move across freely, says Manalastas.
The result? "This gendered division of space tends to give straight men in general more control…so women are simply 'passing through' male territory. Men often have a sense of ownership and entitlement to do what they want in such spaces," he adds.
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They're egged on by other guys. The logic is simple: More men, less individual accountability, Manalastas suggests. When they're in a group, catcallers often feel more emboldened to disrespect passing women.
They do it for the laughs. "[It's] not meant to be disrespectful or degrading. Just fun. Sometimes it's received well and reciprocated," a man who admits to catcalling women says, as reported on Thought Catalog.
They do it as a mating call. For another catcaller, it's a way of flirting, "a way of letting the other sex [know that] they are physically attractive. It works as a mating call to similarly interested females," as he relates to Thought Catalog.
They actually treat women's bodies as objects. Because men are more likely to engage in behaviors like catcalling when they view a woman’s body as something to admire and own.
"This is called objectification," Manalastas says. "[It's] basically when a guy thinks of a woman as walking genitals, or walking set of breasts, with no capacity for independent thought, own desires, complex emotions, human rights."
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Now, we want you to understand that whatever your reasons are for catcalling, they can never justify street harassment…and you should never engage in such behavior.
"Interventions for catcalling and other forms of street harassment include legal interventions—ordinances that penalize sexual harassment, designation of particular spaces as harassment-free using signs," says Manalastas.
If you want to see for yourself how uncomfortable catcalling can be, take a look at this clip featuring a woman who was filmed walking through the streets of New York City for 10 hours. She was catcalled 108 times!
This story originally appeared on Menshealth.ph