The Indian subcontinent is a vivid picture of myriad diversities, cultures, conditions and values, they say. ‘They’ also say a lot about the privileges of being an Indian. They discuss heritage, references, colonies, structures, education and sometimes, power too. They write a million beautiful narratives on modern renunciations and jingoism. They are in constant rivalry with the occident’s, for they believe in a policy of a not-for-profit world. However, a not-for-profit world assumes that nothing is in favour of the oppressed in a profiting ‘third-world’ economics. So, they continue to write and write in favour of or against notions and beliefs. Surprisingly, they are “The Wise Men”, as the literature puts forth who clearly preparing for a good night today.
How will then a movement like the #metoo create a shift in mindsets?
Here, what I want to emphasize is the frigidity involved in the understanding of a movement like #metoo. Laughing at the irony surrounding our workplace environment these days tells us why hashtags have become important in the acknowledgement of the present time, however trendy it appeals to us. Those who understood it completely are surprisingly women. The reason why I say this is because of the dilemma associated with the repetition of the harrowing experiences through well-built narratives while the ‘Wise Ones’ follow the analogy of “Let bygones be bygones”.
In a lucid conversation with one of my friends, I concluded that a reversal of the present side of narratives (written by the victims) is an impractical thought, that is to say that narratives, if written from the predators pen will be laughable and a sight of mockery, an utopian world in literary terms. Imagine the pity surrounding the world right now. What should have been an agreeable state has become utopian.
Movements like these are not newly found idioms, they have existed for the longest time known and have been practised and deconstructed over and over again. But, the fact that ‘they’ have been the active agents in the propagation of false consciousness, is a matter of concern. Front pages of several newspapers bring forth explicit content highlighting international and national debates. However, I see headlines of #metoo somewhere in between the lines, just between the lines, sandwiched and reduced to just-another-case situation. We happen to turn over pages after pages, changing the degrees of emotions and expressions. Just like a robot! How the wise have successfully constructed robots inside us is in fact, appreciable. I blatantly defy such a construction. A movement becomes a movement because of the struggles involved in it, not because it is a trend but because a ‘like’ here or there will really not matter. What matters is an extended arm, some amount of empathy, if at all.
A lot of radiant minds believe that the women who are breaking stories should shut up as things might turn topsy-turvy in a developing country. This is not something new. Silence has been an innate characteristic of womanhood and of her femininity.
The history of #metoo goes back to the autumn of 2006 when Tarana Burke, an activist-entrepreneur actively circulated the level of workplace harassment through social media platform. She was a pioneer who introduced the regulation of the ‘Right to speech and expression’ for young women, something which was not an usual cup of tea for them. What is important here is to understand that a movement like #metoo declares that sexual violence sufferers are not alone and so should not be ashamed. Hence, column widths covering analytical statistics instigating the economics and aftermath of #metoo are irrelevant and mindless. The danger in exercising such writings keep ‘the wise’ in a safe zone, a zone which inflicts more pain and torture to the victims.
My arguments are simple and self-explanatory:
- Time is not a parameter to analyse sexual violence. Physical violence is not just physical but leaves imprints on the mind too. There is a psychological and moral suasion of health and sanity. Revisiting a horrific incident costs a lot more than scrolling down Instagram posts. Time is insignificant in all respects, be it a gap of twenty years, five years or five minutes. Factors like socio-economic conditions, an infant career graph which might dissolve with the interference of power aesthetics, forced ‘silence’ and normalization, kills the willingness to speak something there and then. Hence, the arguments surrounding the basics of ‘why now’ are out-rightly baseless.
- An abuse is an abuse, with or without proof. What evidence do I have of an incident which involved a man forcing his tongue inside the pursed lips of a young, ‘vulnerable’ journalist? A victim (man, woman or a transgender) is the only witness. Predators want proofs because they know that there can be no proof exposing the guilt that they are surrounded by. Mere interruptions of third parties like close friends, relatives and family can act as the receivers of a certain narrative. However, a ‘proof’ may still be lacking.
- The powerful, in every sense, have all the required resources which promise security and safety in their environment. They will still be harmless. But, my argument reaches out to the powerless, who suffer most. Obviously, a series of events like these cannot be put to a third person’s comparative analysis. However, the fact that most of the cases resulting out of dowry, honour killing and infanticide knows no boundary of the amount of sexual/physical/verbal/social/mental abuse. The dictates of social media cannot reach the voices of many, shows how convenient this movement is.
- The assaults inflicted upon the victims should not become the curious case of Benjamin Button. There are incidents which demand universal apologies. #metoo does not need the intricacies of the judiciary so as to say but just public shaming of the predators. Victims need space not opinions. An apology is all they want. Workplaces have been men’s predominantly, certain demands destroying this dichotomy between the public and private are utterly harmless.
- Even if there is some degree of falsehood associated with the stories, we should be obliged to think the reasons behind it. Is it because of the glass ceiling women are bound by or is it because of the accepted fact that the oppressed needs a flurry of lies to fly higher than the amount of power transferred to the same? Also, who are we to judge truth or lies, sitting in our luxurious drawing rooms and sipping our quality tea. A realization that everything concerning the dignity of a man is false and crafted is purely internalized.
- Harassment as a crime knows no gender. It is gender-neutral. Therefore, highlighting cases which are spoken by women would mean surrendering ourselves to the brutalities of misogyny and patriarchy. Violence is violence, no matter to whom it is inflicted and by whom is it done.
From the arguments above, I thereby bring forth the debate going on in my mind since the re-emergence of #metoo. The fact that it has reduced the institutions like the Media, Film and Education to fragments of vulgarity and deception is in itself a massive threat to Patriarchy and the kind of hierarchy we live in. Solutions should be left in the hands of ones who are responsible for the same. It can definitely be you and me but only through an honest empathy, not through furious reactions which run in extreme directions. Predators might very sensibly bring home the idea of political diplomacy at the time of elections which can be one of the prerequisites of campaigning too, however, the trauma involved in narrativizing a heart-rending episode cannot be as simple as that.
The wise ones are the one who belong to different ideologies and in order to force them, they might present the best arguments but the fact that the oppressed becomes “doubly-oppressed” is my concern. What I want to emphasize is the utility of ‘reasons’ behind a certain episode and that overlooking ‘reasons’ can be damaging. These reasons can be sociological, psychological or political. It is high time we give importance to reasons and not ideally reduce the subjectivity of an event to the dimensions of the right or wrong.