“When children are lost, what are they told to do? Find a woman.”
The above quote was part of Reese Witherspoon’s iconic “Woman of the Year” speech in 2015. Known for her portrayal of the bubbly and inspiring Legally Blonde lawyer Elle Woods, her speech brought up a very eye-opening point about the treatment of women in movies.
One of the most egregious? The damsel-in-distress trope where the girl turns to the guy and asks “What do we do now?”
Because in her words, “What woman doesn’t know what to do in any crisis or emergency situation?”
Personally, women and girls have saved my life more times than I can count. Just imagine the number of unsung heroic deeds that they do on the daily!
Without further ado, here are ten times I’ve been saved by women and girls in order to celebrate female strength and heroism!
1. Wrestled a dog to protect her kids
Let’s start with the most metal and badass example: the time my mom saved my sister and I from getting mauled to death by a dog when we were kids. Yes! My 5’2” mom held the jaws of a large aggressive Doberman with superhuman strength, using just her bare hands!
She risked her life to protect her two toddlers, and prevented what would have been a grisly and violent death for her children. It just goes to show that nothing – not even an angry canine is scarier or tougher than a mother protecting her kids.
2. Swarmed a Drink Spiker En Masse
When I was a freshman in college, I got roofied by a stranger who bought me “orange juice” at a bar. Thinking I had made a new friend, I enthusiastically talked to him. After a few minutes, the girls around me (total strangers) got suspicious that I had a sudden and unexplainable change in behavior.
As I turned red-faced and dizzy, they turned on the man and told him to go away, threatening to report him to staff. He left immediately. At this moment, I realized why girls always travel in packs – even to the bathroom.
3. Saved Her Students from a Hold-up
This didn’t happen to me, but I want to include it in this article anyway because I want to share about teachers and their heroism. A blockmate of mine told me about the time when a female teacher stopped a hold upper from robbing her students by offering her own belongings instead.
Cases of sexual harassment sometimes happen on school-sanctioned activities (warning, this article will make your blood boil) but thank God for the teachers who do their best to keep their students safe.
4. Told a Stranger to Stop Hitting on Teenagers
Working as a cashier for NSTP, I was just doing my job when an older man stopped by the counter to call me a “fresh kiddie meal.” As I scanned his purchased items, he repeatedly brushed his hands on mine.
“Bata bata pa nagtratrabaho na. Chinese ka? Japanese? Oh, saan daddy mo? Ang puti ah…”
As I looked down at the register pretending not to hear anything, he continued his creepy comments. He even asked for my number. But that’s when my fellow cashier arrived saying “Hoy!”
She told him that I was just a student and that we’re not permitted to give out any personal information. She even told him to be ashamed of himself for flirting with a teenager. Eventually he left, but when she found him later lingering near the exit where us students would leave, she called security on him!
5. Gave Life-Saving Advice for Stalkers
Being male, I never thought it would happen to me. But one night, I was getting home from a cafe study session when a man who looked like a construction worker got up from where he was sitting, and started to walk behind me.
Taking my usual turns, I was surprised when he continued following me after almost five minutes of walking. As he began to close the distance between us, there was this terrible chill up my spine. I felt like I was in a horror movie.
I wanted to run home. But after remembering the experiences of my female friends who were stalked, as well as all the tips they gave me – an epiphany came upon me like an all-female Greek chorus in my head. I remembered that the first place to go when you’re being followed is a public space.
I ducked into a Coffee Project and talked to the lady guard, pointing out the strange man. He stopped, stared, and then calmly walked away.
6. Prevented the S Word [Trigger Warning]
At the peak of my teenage angst and a few hellish life experiences, I had thoughts of just ending it all. Or in contemporary terms, “un-alive myself.” But every single time, before it ever reached drastic measures, my twin sister would listen to all my problems and provide emotional validation.
She is the reason I have yet to self-harm or make any attempt on my own life. My sister is also why I talk about my problems rather than internalizing them.
As boys, the patriarchy (read: other men) always told us to man up and never complain about anything or show any vulnerability. But my sister and many female friends taught me that you can’t be strong for too long, or else you’re going to break. Vulnerability is absolutely okay, because we are human.
7. Helped me Process my Trauma [Trigger Warning]
I have experienced sexual harassment, and I am not ashamed of it as it is the perpetrator’s fault and not the victim’s. Like the bus scene above in “Sex Education,” it was my female friends who helped me through that hard time to process my trauma. (Watch the uplifting scene here but get ready to cry)
Sometimes, when you tell a man that something like sexual harassment happened to you, they will blame it on you and shame your clothes, your behavior, your femininity, and your vulnerability. But from my conversations with girls, I learned that it’s the patriarchy’s way of making sure victims stay silent.
When I told my female friends about my bad experiences of harassment since childhood, they had nothing but support and empathy. They even shared their own stories to make me feel less alone, going out of their comfort zone and re-living feelings of helplessness just to help me.
Just a month ago, I attended an “inuman” (drinking session) and a female coworker asked me to text her when I got home safe! It was such a thoughtful gesture that showed how much girls look out for each other’s well-being. But it also showed the sad reality of how many safety protocols women do before going out.
To be safe, if you get harassed, no matter what your gender is – tell a woman. She will listen to you, make you feel heard, and even share life-saving tips. And unlike some people who treat sexual harassment like a joke or punch line, she will take you seriously.
To this day, I am so grateful to all these women and girls for protecting me at a time when I was a vulnerable child or teenage boy. Because of them, I vow to protect others as well. Men, here is what you can do to contribute to stopping this rampant problem. And if you’re interested, here is our Chinays Speak: Women’s Month Advice Column!
Who are the heroic women and girls in your life? Share in the comments!
According to the World Health Organization, 1 out of 3 women have experienced sexual harassment. Click here for an article for several ways to prevent sexual violence. In addition, here are 16 ways you can stand against rape culture.