I get along very well with my male colleagues, mostly because I have pretty good understanding on how men are: what goes on their heads when they see a curvy girl, their body language when they are attracted to an opposite sex, and types of jokes they throw at lunch breaks. Sexist jokes? I’m used to them and I often play along without hesitation because I have known these guys for quite some time. I can laugh with them over their dirty jokes; and I even tell my dirty jokes and they would laugh with me. Why do I put myself in such ‘low’ conversations, you may ask? I don’t. I only do that with men I know well. Men I feel comfortable being with. Men I know will never cross the line without my consent. Men who never harass me because they know I will never allow them to do so. Men who are well aware that even if they do tease me sexually, I would do the same to them. This is Indonesia, anyway. People throw rough jokes from time to time with no harm done.
But men are men. Sometimes they can’t hold themselves. I can’t remember how many times I have felt annoyed, even angered, when my male colleagues do their male stuff with women who are not their wives in places flocked by men like them. Karaoke lounges, for example. A few years ago, my colleagues (men and women) and I went to a famous karaoke place after work. The so called premium package we purchased included three female lady escorts whose job was to make sure the guests were satisfied. Yep. ‘Satisfaction’ in that place expanded beyond tapping on the karaoke screen to choose songs and mixing our Coke with spirit; it also meant my male colleagues had the liberty to touch any of those escorts, even make out with them during the booked slot. That was the last time I went to such a place. I felt sick.
Even after I moved to another company, some men in the new company also exhibit a similar habit. Some of them are people I call friends. Sometimes, as friends, they would ask me to join them to chill out after work. Sometimes, as their friend, I would hang out with them, but only after I make sure we’d go to places I’d say yes to: an escort-free family karaoke or cafe. As wild as I may seem to be, I just can’t allow myself to see my male friends objectify female strangers the way they do in those shady places. It bothers me, of course; I wish they would stop doing that one day, but it’s their lives and I have no interest in meddling with their ‘behind-door’ businesses.
Going to a shady karaoke or shady spa parlor is one thing, taking pictures of a lady candidly then going on sharing the pictures with friends with a main purpose to objectify that unknowing woman is another. It disgusts me when men do this. Even if the lady wears a blouse that shows most of her cleavage, or shorts so short they reveal her thighs, what gives them right to take her picture without her consent? Not just that, some men even upload such candid pictures in a chat room. They may think it is funny, and yes, some people respond with grinning emojis and stuff, but I find this behavior repulsive. To me, this is harassment, albeit being done in a closed group where the objectified woman may never know she is being objectified.
I will not go on to discuss the laws in this country in regard to non-consensual picture sharing (yes, people may actually go to jail if found guilty). I just want these perverts to start asking these questions: What if this happens to your wives or daughters. What if a random guy posts a picture of your daughter’s butt online without her knowledge? Would you laugh?