Over the past week, actress and mother of 3 daughters who are all minors, Sunshine Cruz, vented out through a post on social media about a man who sent her lewd messages via Instagram. A certain Lorence Guardian, had sent Cruz direct messages (DM) about fantasizing about her daughters and “touching them.” “Sarap mong pagjakulan (I enjoy masturbating to you),” he wrote.
Can’t take anymore of his rude and offensive messages, and especially wanting to defend her daughters, Cruz posted, ““Papatulan ko to. Bastos masyado. Chef pa naman umayos ka. Hindi sa lahat ng pagkakataon, mananahimik kami.” At first, Guardian responded by blocking the actress and even posting that his Instagram account was hacked.
The restaurant that Guardian works for, Epilogue, learned of the complaint and reached out to the actress. The restaurant clarified that he was not a chef but a support staff who was hired through an outsourced agency. And that after investigation, Guardian was terminated from his job. After which, Guardian posted an apology, “I would like to apologize on the events that have happened last January 13, 2019 and February 12, 2019. To Ms.Sunshine Cruz and her daughters, I am very sorry on what happened in the incident and what I have said on Instagram.”
A different form of sexual harassment
Even without physical contact, verbal or written messages that are sexually explicit in nature can be considered as sexual harassment. This includes catcalling, whistling, and text messaging. In 2016, the Quezon City local government passed an anti-catcalling ordinance to penalize street-level harassment of women.
In an online study by stopstreetharassment.com, 95% of respondents said they had been the victims of leering, honking or whistling and a large proportion have been groped or grabbed in public.
“It stems from a broader culture of gender based violence,” says Emily May, the founder of Hollaback! an international campaign group against street harassment. “Women are advised to ignore it, and we don’t speak up about it. Therefore, these men keep on doing it and push boundaries further and further.”
But what if this was done over text messages? Is this still considered as harassment? This includes sexually explicit correspondence: emails, texts, calls or notes.
There can be significant psychological consequences when one person sends sexually explicit messages without consent of the other party. These can be used as proofs if the victim decides to take the incident to court.
But why do men feel that they’re entitled to harass women, whether in public or private, in the first place? One of the reasons perhaps is the cultural indoctrination that men can do it because society dictates that it’s a natural thing. It’s the age-old “proof of masculinity” and flawed view that “boys will always be boys.” Another reason could be that “men who do it think it’s a minor offense.” Other excuses could be that women who don’t find it offensive or dress provocatively means that it’s okay and that the harassment is called for, therefore making the act of sexual harassment just a matter of perspective. In addition, when the men in a survey done in the Middle East were asked why they sexually harassed women in public, the vast majority, up to 90 percent in some places, said they did it for “fun and excitement.”
But ultimately, it’s all about respect.
“We have to engage men. In our society it is easy to sexually objectify women, so it is important to make men realize that every woman you harass is someone’s mother, sister or daughter, and she is a person who deserves respect,” Northeastern University associate professor of sociology Kathrin Zippel says. Men have to be taken accountable for their inappropriate and disrespectful actions. They shouldn’t just be told time and time again that “it’s wrong.” It’s not the women’s job to expose them to these truths. Cruz’s story is further proof that men haven’t learned their lesson just yet. But hopefully Guardian did, when he realized that he’s left with no job or dignity after the incident.
Source: BBC, Rappler, NPR.org, Instagram @sunshinecruz718, @DietMadisonAve