A visual artist shared on Facebook how she figured in a fight with a woman over a catcalling episode.
Paula Bianca Tobias Bautista wrote that the woman took the side of a man who disrespected her at a street food place in Quezon City.
Bautista recounted that when she was eating fast food, a stranger passed by and cat-called her for what she was wearing.
She was wearing gym clothes at that time based on the photos she attached.
When she confronted him, the man dismissed her as crazy and then walked away. But things did not end there.
Before the man left, a woman suddenly told off Bautista that her provocative clothing was to blame for the harassment. It was then when the brawl started.
“It’s bad enough that us women take shit from misogynistic men. But it’s a thousand times worse when fellow women take their side. I snapped. From that point on, everything was a blur. My vision just darkened, I got furious,” Bautista said on April 4.
“We were yelling at each other, she was yelling so close to my face that I can see and feel her spit. I pulled her by the collar then slapped her. Yes, I admit, I remember I slapped her first out of pure outrage. Then she head butt[ed] me. The fight ensued,” she added.
Despite sustaining several bruises after, Bautista assured in the post that she was physically fine.
She admitted that she lost her cool, but she did not regret calling out against such rude behavior.
“I never said I’m better than them nor do I think violence is a solution, but I don’t like staying quiet. Because silence is tolerance and tolerating immature bad behavior is what’s keeping our country in the dark ages,” she said.
Any form of street-level harassment is prohibited in Quezon City by virtue of the city’s Anti-Catcalling Ordinance in 2018.
These include acts such as cat-calling, cursing, taunting and stalking, all of which are punishable by penalties that range from P1,000 to P5,000 or a month in jail.
Catcalling causes psychological harm
Merriam-Webster defines a cat-call as “a loud, sexually suggestive call or comment directed at someone publicly.”
Despite initiatives and social media awareness to stop it, cat-calling is still practiced in many countries, including the Philippines.
Norwegian University of Science and Technology psychology professor Leif Edward Ottesen Kennair and his colleagues published a study in 2017 that showed how cat-calling and other types of verbal harassment can take a toll on the victim’s mental health over time.
They surveyed a total of 3,000 male and high school students in two different periods—one group in 2007 and another from 2013 to 2014.
They found that non-physical harassment acts such as derogatory remarks and unwanted sexual attention may lead to the victim’s low self-esteem, anxiety and other mental problems.
While this was more evident among female students, both girls and boys are negatively affected by catcalling and verbal harassment.
“Unwanted sexual attention is probably a greater stressor for women. The more harassed they were, both groups got more depression symptoms. But women got more depression symptoms, compared to the boys, due to the same increase in harassment,” Kennair said in an article from TIME magazine.