Who knew that a simple hashtag – just a couple of words put together had the power to engulf the society as a whole. Yes, I’m talking about the far-famed #metoo movement. The defender of the women and the microphone for their voice against sexual abuse, misconduct, harassment and assault.
The classic example of the butterfly effect the movement was born in 2006. Tarana Burke, an activist launched the movement a decade ago to aid underprivileged women of color affected by sexual abuse. The motto of this campaign was “empowerment through empathy”. Her inspiration was a 13 year old who confided in her and how she wished she had just told her “me too”.
The journey of the two word phrase has been meteoric since then via twitter, instagram and various other social platforms. Sexual abuse/ assault has always been inflicted on women in epidemic proportions. The abuse extends from misconduct to rape. Women have been dealing with such instances since times beyond recorded history. Most of us have been fighting this evil but the fight has largely been mental. Facing the demons, the trauma, the scare of what might happen, when it might happen and if it happens AGAIN. The movement has opened the floodgates on the taboo topic and provided a platform for thousands of people to share their experiences. It lets women come forward courageously and speak their truth and hold someone accountable and at the same time provides a sense of security and belonging among other survivors who understand the pain and the stigma attached to it. Women from all walks of life have come forward with their experiences. The abuse has stretched from cat-calling to rape. There have been instances where men including some actors from Hollywood have come forward bravely and told their story. We need to acknowledge that men too can be victims of abuse and harassment. The #MeToo movement has reached over 85 countries. The developments in the United States, the birthplace of the movement have been second to none. It has covered Spain, France, Italy, Israel, Australia and many more. It has created the perfect shock wave.
Coming to our very own motherland- India. The movement in India set off as a ramification of the much highlighted campaign of #MeToo movement in America. It may have sprung initially in the Malayalam Cinema Industry but caught fire in Mumbai when an actress Tanushree Dutta accused Nana patekar of sexual harassment which led to a media storm. Many high profile names like Vikas Bahl, Sajid Khan, Alok Nath, Kailash Kher, K.R.Sreenivas, Vinod Dua were brought forward by various women on account of many instances of sexual harassment, abuse, stalking, sending inappropriate and lewd messages. This evil like the termites has made the women and their confidence to thrive and live freely in the society hollow from inside. With such a vast population I’m sure more cases will show their faces proudly, men or women.
But the elusive urban legend ,
“A butterfly flapping its wings can cause a storm” couldn’t hold truer in this scenario. As much as we needed this. As much as I am grateful for the women leading one another towards liberation and justice, I can’t help but wonder who has set the ground rules for the movement? How do we separate a genuine quetch from a staged one. Not that I’m disrespectful towards the women around. No woman in her right mind would ever bring upon such false allegations upon anyone and bring herself to such blinding spotlight but equality is for both genders. Feminism has taken this absurd role of placing women on a place superior to men. But we forget that the whole point of feminism is to be “equal” and not “superior” if not inferior. Feminism is shifting from its organic meaning to merely a word used to satisfy egos of masses who are half-aware. The only logical way to proceed in light of any reportage regarding the #metoo movement is to listen to both the sides and do a thorough fact-checking and reach justice. Many of the accused have had their careers and reputation ruined totally based on the unconfirmed sexual allegations with no due process behind it. With thousands of such allegations surfacing it is imperative that action must be taken and procedure must be followed to reach a decision and not leave two lives hanging from a hashtag. From a women’s point of view justice has been already delayed a great deal, and she shouldn’t wait anymore. From a man’s perspective a bona-fide investigation and a veracious decision must be reached because for someone to live with this kind of blot without any confirmation isn’t justice at all. We forget that both these genders are humans afterall. They are surrounded by their loved ones. The people who look up to them. The people who are looking out for them. Their family, friends, colleagues. They must be protected and delivered from this evil. Another error I’m seeing in the current turn of events is that there is no proportionate punishment for the offenders. A person touching in appropriately has been pegged in the same category as someone who has raped someone. A person catcalling or eveteasing is bashed equally as someone who has assaulted. The rage is correct and much needed and I fully stand for it. But it needs to be channelised. Our reaction to the wrong has to be in proportion with the wrong and likewise the penalty.
Even though the discussion surrounding the movement may come with a certain criticism but it undebatable for me to speak that it has brought these burning issues back into public consciousness. By simply talking about it we are bringing an awareness. No matter how the discussion ends we surely would have taken a small step forwards towards ending of the evil. Remember Its not Man vs Woman. Its All of Us vs the Evil of sexual abuse.