#MeToo has officially arrived in India. About time.
While the movement was kicked off by fierce law student Raya Sarkar in 2017, it fizzled out before it caught on. Things were so low-key, I thought it would be years before people came together to speak up against their abusers.
But like they say, a journey of a thousand miles begins with a step.
This year’s wave of #MeToo hit India last month, when actress Tanushree Dutta accused veteran actor Nana Patekar of sexual harassment on the sets of a film. And it blew up on social media last week when writer Mahima Kukreja started this Twitter thread about comedian Utsav Chakraborty:
As she shared screenshots of how he harassed several girls and women, others joined in to talk about their creepy encounters.
That’s when the dam burst.
Women from the media industry began to speak about harrowing accounts of rape, assault, and misconduct at the hands of powerful men. I even saw a man’s Tweet about his trauma, something which we rarely see because of the stigma around male survivors.
They found the courage to do so because unlike before, they were being heard instead of dismissed. Simultaneously, a few Bollywood actresses began to speak up too. Actors, authors, directors, editors, filmmakers, journalists, politicians, singers – influential people from various fields have been named and shamed. In some cases, swift action has been taken as well. The stories are still coming in as I type this.
But amongst all the support and empathy, there are those who have let their cognitive biases take over.
Some people are reasoning that since the accused is respected or talented, they cannot be responsible for hurting anybody. So they are alleging that the woman in question is either lying to get attention/money or must have done something to encourage the misbehavior.
Let’s not forget what is bound to follow: the timeless suggestion that the person and the work they do are separate entities, so even when they are found guilty, they should be able to keep doing their work. And it is alright if we keep consuming and celebrating it as a society. Because, you know, they are so good at what they do.
Look, I admired and looked up to some of these famous-for-being-woke perpetrators too.
My soul ached and literally shattered when I read accounts of all the wrongs they had done. As much as I didn’t want to believe my eyes, I had no option but to accept reality. I have nothing to say in their defense because if you are woke, you certainly understand the meaning and importance of consent.
It is our moral duty to boycott even the most high-profile abusers so that they understand that being rich, powerful, intelligent or talented does not entitle them to a) violate anyone and b) walk away scot-free.
So irrespective of how much you admire someone, if they have been accused, listen to their victim(s) without any bias. If they are proved to be an offender, stop supporting them. They do not deserve your sympathy any more than an ordinary criminal.
Also, even when there is no evidence, do not try to silence or mock a victim. This whole myth about a woman fabricating tales to tarnish someone’s good reputation is the exception, not the rule.
Instead of going blue in the face screaming #NotAllMen and #HimToo, let’s understand that #MeToo is not men vs. women.
On the contrary, it is a gender-neutral war between right and wrong. It is only when we publicly rally against ALL offenders can we help make society safer for people of all ages and genders.
Anyway, I am glad to be alive in these times. Today, only the entertainment and media industries are all shook up. Tomorrow, the revolution will spread throughout the country.
Women and men have had it with suffering in silence while their violators go about their lives unaffected.
This is just the beginning.
More names will emerge and this time, they will not be able to escape.
Times up, predators. It’s your turn to taste fear and shame.
Survivors, I am in awe of your strength and courage. I hope every single one of you gets the justice you seek.
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10 Things Men Can Do To Dismantle Patriarchy In The Time Of #MeToo