In recent times, sexism and misogyny have become rampant topics debated over online. Threads on social media platforms have opened up several issues for discourse such as sexual entitlement and catcalling behavior. Swarms of people, particularly men, have been called out on social media, and a rising topic is why many men feel sexually entitled to women, and even to other men, even though the rationale behind that ideology flawed.
A common argument for a supposed predisposition in the different sexes for preferring certain traits lies in an appeal to biology. Elijah* (I BS-MS MEM) shares his perspective, “For example, having big muscles is considered a positive ‘manly’ trait because strength was once of key importance in hunter-gatherer societies.” The image of biological females as being relatively less muscular or athletic than biological males is a hegemonic notion that damages members of both groups alike, restraining individuals to notions of what is ‘acceptable’, given their gender. Elijah adds, “There still exists the preconceived concepts of ‘manliness’ and ‘femininity’ that are expected of males and females in the country.”
People tend to develop friendships with those who are similar to them, which is why it’s not uncommon for a barkada (friend group) to be made up entirely of men. However, Marlon* (IV, BS-IE) believes that some of these types of groups can be particularly toxic and can build on a person’s sense of sexual entitlement. “It really depends on the culture of the group,” he explains, adding that while most guys know that actions such as catcalling and harassment are generally wrong, being in the company of a barkada who acts like it’s socially acceptable to do those types of things can really make a difference and affect a person’s judgment.
He also notes that “some guys are insecure and having a lot of experience with women can help them feel better about themselves.” When asked why being sexually active is something some men consider to be self-affirming, Steven* (I, BS-CIV) postulates that it’s because some men equate promiscuity with masculinity. “It becomes something to compete on —something to brag about because they believe [promiscuity] makes them manly,” he explains.
In light of this, Steven believes that some men consider the ability to attract more women than their peers an achievement, thus making them feel deserving of some sort of reward. He notes that these ideas probably stem from the environment they’re in, a lack of proper education toward ideas regarding sex, a lack of proper ethic, or simply a personal lack of confidence. Either way, this type of attitude tends to regard women as prizes that are only there to be won over and taken.
An aversion to “beta males”
While some men brag about their sexual conquests to show off their masculinity, others do it simply to not fall behind or appear weak. Billy* (I, AB-PSY) shares that he often feels berated by his family for not conforming to the stereotypical depiction of what a man should be like. “[My father] asks whether or not I’m still a guy, since I am incapable of doing manly feats like my brother,” he adds. Men who are treated this way may turn to pursuing a strong and aggressive sexuality, since that is commonly perceived to be masculine, as a means to elevate themselves in the patriarchal hierarchy.
Billy also believes that the issue of male sexual entitlement stems from our past as a people. “History is made known by men,” he argues, implying that there exists a bias in history that heavily suggests women are below men. Billy believes this is why “men who can’t keep up [in terms of masculinity] are deemed as gay or girl-like,” which most people unfortunately see as an insult, and thus take measures to assert their masculinity.
From a psychological perspective
According to an interview with a DLSU psychology professor, Johnny*, the origin of male sexual entitlement could stem from different variables. Behaviors could be a result from environmental or biological factors. Similarly, the development of sexual entitlement among men could be the result of an environment that tolerates, accepts, and even encourages this behavior.
On the issue on whether or not sexual entitlement and catcalling is a mental health problem, the answer is no. Although it is not a mental health problem, sexual entitlement and catcalling could be a symptom to a wide variety of complex problems in people. We need to remind everyone and not just men that whenever you catcall or feel sexually entitled, it is not an excuse.
Although it is commonly associated with men, we must remember that anyone is capable of being sexually entitled to someone else. We must be wary of the thoughts that we release and think with courtesy of the person we want to address our words. Sexual entitlement—no matter a person’s gender, age, or other—before does not excuse anyone.
*Names were changed for anonymity.