I remember waiting to turn twelve so I could finally pick my own clothes. I didn't feel like I could fill in my big girl shoes until I could pick out a full outfit, from head to toe.
When I turned twelve, I picked out my clothes for the day. I don't remember what I picked out exactly—I don't think I was very good at dressing up back then. I got my first period at twelve as well. Because of this, my parents sat me down and explained a few rules to me. I quickly learned what pieces to wear and when to wear them. I didn't understand the need for these rules but I didn't question them.
I didn't understand the need for these rules but I didn't question them.
Every time I would hear, "Masyadong maiksi yung shorts mo. Palitan mo!" I would follow. My mom and my lola dressed me when I was a kid after all. I always assumed they knew better and to disobey would mean forfeiting my hard-earned right to dress myself. I loved how my big girl shoes fit, and I wasn't going to give them up.
I've been dressing myself for more than 10 years now. When my parents or my lola would loudly protest against an outfit, sometimes I would give in. Other times, I would just throw on a jacket and leave. Basta, kapag hindi masyadong maiksi o masyadong sleeveless, okay lang.
Basta, kapag hindi masyadong maiksi o masyadong sleeveless, okay lang.
Last week, the Angono Municipal Police Station released a set of rape prevention tips aimed at women, assuming that women controlling their behavior would effectively prevent rape from happening. They've since apologized for their post, expressing that they only had the best intentions in mind for female citizens.
When anyone tries to restrict a woman's way of dressing in an attempt to prevent harm from happening to her, they usually mean well. But I remember reading online exposes of women brave enough to share their experiences and seeing dismal statistics showing that rape cases still continue to mount every year.
I've been dressing myself for more than 10 years. I've always followed the rules. I remember being decently dressed, running away from a group of unidentified men who catcalled me along Reliance street. I put together my outfit that day and I didn't choose to wear short shorts. Short or not, it didn't make a difference. I would still be their target.
Women don't need to be told not to wear short shorts to avoid being raped.
Women don't need to be told not to wear short shorts to avoid being raped. We've been following these rules for years, and they've never managed to be as preventive as we think.
Instead of addressing the problem directly by educating the men in our lives about consent, we've been chasing a Band-Aid solution that has never worked in the first place. There's nothing wrong about attempting to help women feel good about themselves and the way they dress by creating safer spaces for them to express themselves. Women deserve the freedom men have to choose what they wear and walk through the streets they grew up on, without suffering consequences that could've been avoided.
I waited 'til I turned twelve to dress myself. I wonder how old I'll be when I can finally enjoy wearing my big girl shoes.
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