Sometime in 2018 I made a promise to myself to go back to commuting and not rely on ride-sharing apps too much to get around the metro. Especially when it’s not a work-related trip because, let’s face it, Grab fares aren’t exactly affordable when demands are high. This also means that I’ve been walking a lot when I feel that locations are at close proximity to each other. (Think of Makati CBD and BGC.)
Despite being used to the commute, my fears of encountering dangerous people still persists. I’m especially anxious when a man is walking behind me, and I know a lot of women feel the same.
Several men will surely play the “not all men” card and say they don’t intend to threaten any woman. As one Reddit user ranted on the platform, “What is wrong with just walking normally and minding your own business? If a woman (or anyone really) feels threatened by my existence, then thats really their problem and [I shouldn’t] be expected to cater to anyone’s irrational fears. If anyone is an [a**hole] in this scenario its the person making judgments on other people’s appearance/gender.” (Wow, who hurt him?)
Can you blame us women, though? We’ve been hearing stories of sexual harassment and assault happening anywhere and to anyone regardless of their age and status. Men are mostly the perpetrators.
I’ve personally experienced a random man touching my backside in the jeepney when I was in college. I’ve also caught three male snatchers trying to steal my valuables from my bag. And do not get me started on the amount of times I’ve been catcalled on the street because that’s one of the main reasons why I’m uneasy when an unknown guy (or a group of them) is behind me on the sidewalk.
It also doesn’t matter if the sidewalk is quiet or crowded, fully lit or half-lit. Again, these incidents can happen anywhere because creeps are everywhere. Sometimes they’re not scary-looking, which makes it more unsettling.
We all want a safe space for people in general. But as long as there are stories of men harming women, we can’t let our guard down just yet. So, as a man, you’re not supposed to get triggered by what majority of males have done and point fingers at women for not trusting you. Take note that you’re a stranger to someone and your presence might make them uneasy. The least you could do is to not intentionally overtake a woman, especially if you know that you’re going to have skin-to-skin contact with her.
i-D also has an estimation to the distance between yourself and a woman while on the street and in public transport: “Just give a wide berth, slightly longer than arm length, or any distance at which you wouldn’t be able to grab anyone. Same goes for public transport. In an empty underground train don’t pick a seat next to a woman unless she is literally tapping the seat next to her.”
One last thing: “Not all men” isn’t a plausible argument in this situation either. If you’re not affected, you don’t have to prove yourself to a woman who feels threatened. Take a step back, they don’t know and trust you. Overstepping a boundary is the last thing you should do.
Art by Marian Hukom
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