Is it harassment or are we being sensitive?

While rape and harassment cases are happening all over the country, Myat Thet Khine stresses on casual verbal assaults (which are equally corrupt acts) that women have to get used to with in their daily lives and shares her doubts with double standard that we were brought up.

In Myanmar, most men are loose-tongued and women have to tolerate their foul mouths while going out. Those men used teasing tone to praise women such as ‘beautiful or sexy’ in public just because of the simple fact, ‘Women are victims.’ Though they are the ones who use foul words to insult women, they are enraged when victims yell back or threaten them. Majority of men are taught that they are nobler than women since childhood. They even insist women not to get angry because they aren’t physically harassed. Some even accuse us for being sensitive.

Surprisingly, some women just tolerate and ignore men’s foul words since they fear to respond, yell back or take actions. Most people including women themselves are convinced that only physically insulted or being raped is worthy to be worried. Actually, we, females are expected to accept those kinds of actions because our society thinks it is funny and not an important matter.

It is not a surprise that people in Myanmar see this as a joke because we were trained to view men as creatures which are more superior than us. There is a Burmese saying “to treat sons as masters while treat husband as god”. So, there is no wonder men treat us as lower species beneath them and believe that we should listen to their words even if they insult us. Society expects us to be humble, obedient, look after children and doing house chores. That is how we have been raised since ancient times. It is a rarity if a parent value a son and a daughter equally back in then. Though now is better than before, majority of people are still old-fashioned and they cannot let go the idea of being nobler than other.

Some will think rude insults can be found only in people from working class. However, you can’t always go by appearance. In fact, I have seen enough loose-tongued men from middle class and higher class. We, women, can never evade such kind of men while we are living a life.

Is it harassment or are we being sensitive?

While I was working as a study guide, I used to get back home around 9 pm. I always took bus and one day, a drunkard followed me home. I didn’t know what to do except be furious and so annoyed. When my family found out about this, they blamed me for being late and made me cancel that evening class. However, I had never encountered such actions while visiting Singapore even if I got back home late. There was a small bar or something like that near my home and no one ever said shameful words to girls and women passing by even if they were drop dead gorgeous. At first, I doubt the moral of those men because Singapore government heavily punishes those who breaks the laws. Later, I get to know that those men truly understand in their heart that everyone is equal and no one is to be belittled because of the gender though there are some exceptions.

People from Myanmar claimed that they are eager to be like Singapore though they never fix their mind set in the first place. They only understand to value ladies whom they are involved with or their siblings whereas they are ready to insult other women verbally or physically. In this country, men learn that they are better than women, in fact, this attitude is ingrained in them from childhood.

If men assume that being spoken in an over-familiar manner is not harassment, they have to endure when their daughters complain. May be even then they will only blame their daughters for wearing revealing clothes or wearing make-up. It is an act of victim-blaming and they aren’t aware that they are encouraging such actions in some ways.

Though there are many more outspoken ladies than before, we still have to put up with that kind of actions and we can’t do anything. I am not asking for special treatments or being treated as princess but I do wish to be respected. I really hope that our society would start acting like civilized community and we can move around freely regardless of time, place and how we dress up. Hopefully, may be in near future, we will get to interact with real gentlemen in so-called Golden Land Myanmar.

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