World will not be the same after #MeToo, but only if we care...
So, how were we dealing with it? Well, for ages, we were told to ignore lewd remarks, awkward touches, double meaning conversations as if nothing had happened - brush everything under the carpet and move on. Sadly, even in cases of serious nature, women were told to forget and move on.
A week after Indian #MeToo movement started by actress Tanushree Dutta, women from the entertainment and media industries are coming out in the open to share their awkward moments, cases of serious abuse and are also narrating what made them keep quiet for so long. If the truth is to be told, hardly any woman or girl can confidently say that she has never faced sexual harassment in her life. Women regardless of age, geographical and class distinctions would have faced this ordeal at least once.
So, how were we dealing with it? Well, for ages, we were told to ignore lewd remarks, awkward touches, double meaning conversations as if nothing had happened - brush everything under the carpet and move on. Sadly, even in cases of serious nature, women were told to forget and move on. And yes, some of us did just that. We were mute spectators when some of them chose to question these advances and had to suffer, how they were at the receiving end of disbelief, suspicion and how few others were simply asked to choose between career or demand for justice.
Many of us too have encountered this ‘either/or’ dilemma at least once in their life. For many amongst us, winning the right opportunity to shape the career in the domain of our choice was nothing short of swimming against the tide because not many were lucky to get support from family and friends.
However, our survival tactics seemed to have emboldened the spirits of wrongdoers manifold, in many cases to the point that they felt that it is their legitimate right to treat women or girls as objects, specially created to please them. Society has helped these predators to go on and on, justifying their actions by arguing that they had special skills or matchless professional acumen. Just take a look at the names of the alleged predators that are tumbling down on social media walls and you would instantly realise that these men were revered for their skills so much that people around them thought it was okay to ignore their dark side. But kudos to all those bravehearts who have chosen to break their silence of years and decided to share how they endured the sexual abuse by the mighty and the powerful. As more and more women are coming forward, barring only a few, many of the representatives of the 50 per cent and more population are seemingly growing restless.
But as this movement is gathering momentum, in all the nooks and corners where the trending news is ceremonially discussed, the necessity of such a movement is being questioned. Crass comments are being made by people suggesting how these women enjoyed the benefits back then and are now using it as a weapon to tarnish the image of the mighty and the powerful.
For many of those, who are engaged in forwarding and sharing #MeToo jokes on social media, please care to have the deeper conversation with at least one woman they care for and ask her if she ever had faced sexual harassment in her life. I am sure the response will be enough to change the course of casual conversation on this topic.
With this campaign in the backdrop, many men are openly sharing that they would now think twice before offering help, engaging in an idea exchange or simply having casual conversations with their women colleagues or even going a step further before expressing their affection to someone they like. Expressing affection and presuming consent are two different things. Let’s not mix them. These fears are unfounded and no one will doubt a man’s intent if his conscience is clear and his intent and actions are in the same direction. So let this not be an excuse to be a lesser human being.
Long and short, considering that some of the posts on social media, which are being wildly circulated, contain pieces of advice ranging from ‘Never be alone with a woman in a room or ensure another woman is present if you want to have one on one discussion with the woman’, ‘Avoid complementing a woman’ or ‘Never block the exit door’. If one ponders, there is an underlying sense that women are on some kind of mission to settle their scores against men. Well, this movement is not to implicate ‘innocent’ men but to expose those who were anything but innocent.
So post this movement, the world will not be the same. For those who were using their position to continue their sexual overtures under the guise of helping women or offering them a shoulder to cry on, they need to take a cue from this movement - this is the time to stop in their tracks. This movement has given voice to all women to break their silence and say out loud and clear ‘what is okay’ and ‘what is not’.