‘Inviting the beast’? #HijaAko trends as women call out victim blaming

Samantha Bagayas
Many on social media join Frankie Pangilinan in condemning the thinking that women's outfits are to blame for sexual assault

MANILA, Philippines – Rape exists because of rapists.

This sentiment was echoed in thousands of tweets as women took to Twitter on Sunday, June 14, to shut down the misconception that their outfits are to blame for sexual assault.

Using the hashtag #HijaAko, women came forward with their own stories of harassment, pointing out how these incidents occurred even if they were not wearing revealing clothing.

The hashtag went viral after Frankie Pangilinan, the outspoken daughter of “Megastar” Sharon Cuneta and Senator Francis Pangilinan, used it to reclaim the term “hija” to refer to “girls who fight for their rights as human beings.”

{source}<blockquote class=”twitter-tweet” data-partner=”tweetdeck”><p lang=”und” dir=”ltr”><a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/HijaAko?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#HijaAko</a> <a href=”https://t.co/LYXZqsoVSz”>pic.twitter.com/LYXZqsoVSz</a></p>&mdash; hija (@kakiep83) <a href=”https://twitter.com/kakiep83/status/1271995696871137280?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>June 14, 2020</a></blockquote><script async src=”https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js” charset=”utf-8″></script>{/source}

Pangilinan earlier tweeted the need to teach people not to rape in reaction to an online post of the Lucban Municipal Police Station that told women to avoid wearing revealing clothes so they would not be targeted for sex crimes.

Seemingly talking down to Pangilinan by calling her “hija,” broadcaster Ben Tulfo said sex offenders would pounce on any opportunity to commit unwanted sexual advances, and urged “sexy ladies” to be careful with the way they dress because they might be “inviting the beast.”

{source}<blockquote class=”twitter-tweet” data-partner=”tweetdeck”><p lang=”en” dir=”ltr”>Hija <a href=”https://twitter.com/kakiep83?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>@kakiep83</a> , a rapist or a juvenile sex offender&#39;s desire to commit a crime will always be there. All they need is an opportunity, when to commit the crime. Sexy ladies, careful with the way you dress up! You are inviting the beast.</p>&mdash; Ben Tulfo (@bitagbentulfo) <a href=”https://twitter.com/bitagbentulfo/status/1271776779137622023?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>June 13, 2020</a></blockquote><script async src=”https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js” charset=”utf-8″></script>{/source}

Tulfo reiterated his point in a separate Facebook post on Saturday night, June 13.

“Bago natin sila baguhin, baguhin muna natin ang sarili’t pag-iisip natin. Gets mo, hija?” he said. (Before we change them for the better, we should first change our way of thinking. Do you get it, child?)

{source}<iframe src=”https://web.facebook.com/plugins/post.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fweb.facebook.com%2Fbitagbentulfojournalist%2Fposts%2F3324094124281083&width=500″ width=”500″ height=”638″ style=”border:none;overflow:hidden” scrolling=”no” frameborder=”0″ allowTransparency=”true” allow=”encrypted-media”></iframe>{/source}

Pangilinan later countered Tulfo, saying his way of thinking has only continued normalizing rape culture and the objectification of women’s bodies.

“Rape culture is real and a product of this precise line of thinking, where the behavior is normalized, particularly by men. The way anyone dresses should not be deemed as ‘opportunity’ to sexually assault them ever. Calling me hija will not belittle my point,” Pangilinan said in a tweet.

Women quickly backed Pangilinan’s points by using the hashtag to showcase the very real incidents of harassment that occur because of men’s behavior, not because of their outfits.

{source}<blockquote class=”twitter-tweet” data-partner=”tweetdeck”><p lang=”en” dir=”ltr”>We&#39;re wearing long-sleeved uniform with sando and knee-length skirt with stockings and cycling shorts yet some of us experienced catcalling. So who needs some lecture, men who can&#39;t zip their zipper and mouth or women and the way we dress? <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/HijaAko?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#HijaAko</a> <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/StopRapingWomen?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#StopRapingWomen</a> <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/SayNoToRape?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#SayNoToRape</a></p>&mdash; ren ‍⚕ (@renarnmd) <a href=”https://twitter.com/renarnmd/status/1272024480852795394?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>June 14, 2020</a></blockquote><script async src=”https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js” charset=”utf-8″></script>{/source}

Many added that clothing should never be used to excuse sexual harassment and inappropriate behavior, pointing out how even young children and babies have become targets of predators. (READ: The many faces of sexual harassment)

“Excuse me, Ben Tulfo, the way ‘sexy ladies’ dress up is not an invitation to the ‘beast.’ As long as men like you who think this way exists, we will never be able to abolish the culture of victim blaming. Rape exists because of rapists,” Twitter user @Joannaaaabanana said.

{source}<blockquote class=”twitter-tweet” data-partner=”tweetdeck”><p lang=”en” dir=”ltr”>Excuse me Ben Tulfo, the way &#39;sexy ladies&#39; dress up is NOT an invitation to the &#39;beast&#39;.<br><br>As long as men like you who thinks this way exists, we will never be able to abolish the culture of VICTIM BLAMING.<br><br>RAPE EXISTS BECAUSE OF RAPISTS. Period.<a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/HijaAko?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#HijaAko</a></p>&mdash; M A J  (@Joannaaaabanana) <a href=”https://twitter.com/Joannaaaabanana/status/1272024034826309632?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>June 14, 2020</a></blockquote><script async src=”https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js” charset=”utf-8″></script>{/source}

{source}<blockquote class=”twitter-tweet” data-partner=”tweetdeck”><p lang=”en” dir=”ltr”>Self-control and respect. No one should ever think that clothing gives them the right to do something inappropriate.<a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/HijaAko?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#HijaAko</a></p>&mdash; Ton$ (@Sexytowns) <a href=”https://twitter.com/Sexytowns/status/1272024330679943168?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>June 14, 2020</a></blockquote><script async src=”https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js” charset=”utf-8″></script>{/source}

By Sunday afternoon, the hashtag quickly rose to Twitter Philippines’ top trends, with at least 4,121 tweets.

One Twitter user pointed out that conversations about the existence of rape culture and victim blaming should be taken offline as well to help dismantle people’s misconceptions that it’s merely up to women to protect themselves from sex crimes.

{source}<blockquote class=”twitter-tweet” data-partner=”tweetdeck”><p lang=”en” dir=”ltr”>The worrying thing is, Tulfo has greater access to the masses. His radio program is blaring in every taxi, jeep, tindahan ni aling nena (pero hindi ni aling maria ).<br><br>So along w/ making a noise online, we also have to have these (difficult) conversations irl <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/HijaAko?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#HijaAko</a></p>&mdash; Hija Dale Rivera (@daleygaga) <a href=”https://twitter.com/daleygaga/status/1272033343572336640?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>June 14, 2020</a></blockquote><script async src=”https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js” charset=”utf-8″></script>{/source}

Another even provided a list of resources that people can study to better understand that sexual assault happens because of the offender’s actions and decisions.

{source}<blockquote class=”twitter-tweet” data-partner=”tweetdeck”><p lang=”en” dir=”ltr”>A thread of articles and resources for <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/HijaAko?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#HijaAko</a> <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/MeToo?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#MeToo</a> because rape happens because of rapists.</p>&mdash; ❄ McFleury ❄ #OustDuterteNow (@enyaaaaaaa) <a href=”https://twitter.com/enyaaaaaaa/status/1272023283764879363?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>June 14, 2020</a></blockquote><script async src=”https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js” charset=”utf-8″></script>{/source}

Here’s what others have to say about the matter:

{source}<a class=”twitter-timeline” href=”https://twitter.com/rapplerdotcom/timelines/1272033506734993408?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#HijaAko – Curated tweets by rapplerdotcom</a> <script async src=”https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js” charset=”utf-8″></script>{/source}

– Rappler.com 

Samantha Bagayas

Samantha Bagayas is a community and civic engagement specialist under MovePH, Rappler's civic engagement arm. Aside from writing stories about movements and civic initiatives, she works with movers and campus journalists across the Philippines to amplify issues affecting their communities.