On Twitter, a single tweet by Alyssa Milano, in the wake of the Harvey Weinstein scandal, posted a picture that read:
Suggested by a friend: ”If all the women who have been sexually harassed or assaulted wrote ‘Me too’ as a status, we might give people a sense of the magnitude of the problem.”
This sparked off the internet in seconds and within a round of the clock, the whole Internet is storming up in response to the #MeToo trend.
Millions of people, millions of stories, one problem.
A trend spread like a virtual epidemic over social media, and with the magnanimous response that it has generated, the #MeToo stories have made human civilisation tto ask themsleves about how much civilised we are. The urge to touch, to feel the heat of sex has always victimised the fairer sex in a methodically disastrous madness and this sudden expression is just scratching the surface. For instance, noted comedian Mallika Dua shared her horrifying episode which happened at the age of 11 as: ‘‘Me too…in my own car, my mother was driving while he sat at the back with his hand under my skirt the whole time…’‘ Likewise, independent filmmaker Reema Borah in a public Facebook post wrote: “I was ill. Severe stomach pain. Was in class 12th. Doctor suggested x ray and sonography, for that we had to travel 2 hrs to another city. Father was waiting outside and the radiographer inserted his finger on pretext of examining me. I was shivering without knowing what has just happened. I was naive, i was innocent. After that faced many. Heard many. But now i am a tigress. #METOO.” while tons of such similar dark stories are being revealed chronicling the dark hollow deeds that they have gone through.
It is disheartening to see the extent to which sexual harassment has (and is) made (making) merry in such silence in our society but it is, even more, when rants are made against the movement in smart words of petty thought. The conservative American columnist Ben Shapiro is highly sceptical of the movement and terming it as one of the oft-repeated fruitless attempts of us being ‘bound and determined to wallow in the emotional difficulties of the situation rather than seeking solutions.’ On one hand, many men have also come out about their own experiences of sexual harassment at the hands of other men and women making it a movement sans the domains of gender while on the other hand, many have denounced it as ‘slack-tivism’ and accused women of pretence and other men who came out in support as ‘fake feminists’ while many others such as the Mumbai-based writer Gautam Mahajan came out in open public support to the same as he wrote:
I don’t usually get carried away by social media trends, but this time it’s different.
Me too – I laughed and participated in sexist jokes and misogynistic humour, thinking it was just what ‘men’ do.
Me too – I was part of a toxic culture where a woman was considered a conquest, an object created for physical gratification.
Me too – I threw the word ‘rape’ around casually, without understanding the gravity of what it meant, of what it represented.
Me too – I thought that men were in some way superior to women.
Me too – I represented everything I despise about masculinity today.
But it was the strong, intelligent, brilliant women I met who showed me how wrong I was – family, friends, flatmates, colleagues and partners. They made me realise how difficult life can be for a woman in this fucked up, patriarchal world that has no basis or logic for considering men better. They showed me the meaning of true strength, of what it takes to survive, even thrive, despite society trying to keep them down at every possible opportunity. And long before the sexual harassment they were subject to came to light, I knew that men have to do better, that women deserve much, much better.
I may not have the power to change this mindset, but I promise that I will not encourage it. That I will not be part of a conversation or social circle that considers women to be second-class citizens. It’s the least I can do. And I know that I’m not alone.
On a personal level, it is with a mixture of both depressing and optimistic tunes that I come to the fact that a lot of the people that I have known have been victims of this heinous crime (in subtleness, normalised) and that they are vocal about the sad state of affairs respectively. Vocal in a society that hushes even the most innocent of sounds of the word ‘sex’ itself to let alone let its disillusioned partakers grapple with even the possibility that such crimes exist while being hypocritically committed to eve-teasing, stalking, slut-shaming and other acts of physical and sexual intimidation (none the better off the other) without a single thought.
Our great society, which in its moral high ground, pretends that sex is non-existent and inquisitions any notions of frankness to debate the same only for sex to foster in crooked forms behind the veil of a seemingly multiplying populace of celibate beings. It is very hard for us to accept that sex is one of the basic needs of life and that its discussion and fulfilment is absolutely normal. On the contrary, it is hushed and made to seem like an anomaly. The result of which is the increase in sexual harassment and crimes for even discussions on sex for the sake of moulding a rationale to speak against such crimes find neither the prevalence and never the preference among our people. Consequently, the rationale is influenced, or rather ill-influenced, by other demeaning factors which normalise such acts as the counter-narrative to the normalisation is not presented in public due to ashamedness, on sometimes, or fear, at other; but both of them being direct results of the concealing construct of the society.
‘#MeToo‘ and the trend associated with is, of course, no real solution to the problem in itself but it is a wildly efficient and powerful attempt at challenging this crude construct and thus, there’s hope that the realisation of such a reality will be the root of deriving at a real solution and therefore, the movement should be supported with strong statements and every ill-intended attempt to stunt it be met with statements even stronger.
Regardless, the movement is already a semi-success as it has initiated talks on such hideous actions, albeit some of them being short on logic, and therefore has sensitised the world in coming into grasp of the fact of how intense the problem really is and thus, has almost served its purpose and the real question however, is to decide on how to and what to do next to take the fight further.