In a usual scenario, you are probably walking in the street or waiting for a car to take you to your destination when suddenly, a passerby says, “Hi Ms. Beautiful.” Gives you a sticky look, or a bite in his lips and wink. That’s creepy, right? Usually, women shrug it off, or sometimes just roll their eyes, and walk away.
BEHIND JOKES AND COMPLIMENTS
“Hi, (Ms.) Beautiful.” Context wise, it is a positive statement — a compliment. That, when appropriately used, is a good thing. But unfortunately, compliments can also be used to make an individual feel uncomfortable and unsafe. The problem with sexism is most of the time, people hide it in compliments and jokes to either take advantage or make fun of the person, which makes it difficult and confusing to react to. It is either you will be labeled overreacting, dramatic, or a killjoy.
There was one time, I went out with a friend in Costa Rica. We chose our table, she went to the washroom, and I sat down waiting for her. A moment past and a guy is asking me what’s my order. I said, “oh, I haven’t decided yet, and my friend is still in the washroom.” He said, “don’t wait for your friend. I can decide and order for you and her!” I was confused with the rush and felt uncomfortable. My friend returned and sat down. The guy spoke, “I am just kidding, I’m not working here. I just saw you walking in awhile ago, and I am very sure you are a Filipina!” I was like, how did you know? He said, “I just knew the moment I saw you: your complexion, your petite body. I love Asians! My ex-girlfriend was from the Philippines.”
The conversation went on and on until another friend of his came over, bought us drinks which we offered to pay, but they refused. Compliments keep pouring until he started wiping the sweat on my forehead, fixing my hair when it’s getting to my face and touching my neck. I was uncomfortable and anxious, but knowing me, the peaceful one, always smiling, never like confrontation, I ignored him as if nothing is happening, and just moved a little to distance myself.
He kept talking to know more uncomfortable personal things even said jokingly how nice my butt is and how good it would possibly be to touch it, until he said, “are you still a virgin?” I showed an awkward face. Before I even said a word, my friend stood up for me, saying, “I know Yvette is nice, but you do not talk to her like that! Your questions and actions are very inappropriate!”
I understand his fondness for Filipinas, but he took advantage of his knowledge through his experience that we do not complain much, are patient, that we will just smile back even if things are uncomfortable primarily if the conversation is delivered to us in the form of jokes and compliments. And it’s not like we fall for it, the majority of times we just avoid conflict. Do not think that it is alright for us when you know to yourself that what you are doing is inappropriate. It is not our fault.
LET THEM KNOW
I hope this kind of man (and everyone) would hopefully choose to act with respect and sensitivity to others. I hope in the future, we will have a world where no one would even need to ask nor beg to be shown respect. I hope jokes are used to make people happy, and compliments are used for genuine appreciation not to cover otherwise.
And to us, women, when situation and people are making us uncomfortable, and we are violated, speak up! Let them know. And we shouldn’t be objectified. I learned this the hard way, and I won’t deny, I am still having a difficult time speaking up when caught in this kind of situation anywhere I go, but I am doing my best. In fact, when I was walking in Khao San Road in Thailand, a guy suddenly grabbed my boob. I was in shocked. The next thing I know, I was running after the guy, and I kicked his ass. He fell on the ground; the tourists were like, “what happened?” I said, “do not help him, he grabbed my boob, and that’s what he gets from doing that!” 👏
Have you ever experience a similar situation? Let me know in the comments below.