The #Metoo movement in India has emerged as a powerful whistleblower hitting the various industries across the nation. The movement has received mixed reactions from the public. Many people are appalled at the same time frustrated with the number of allegations against famous journalists, actors, comedians, writers, producers. They are disappointed with the news of their renowned artist or journalists whom they look up to, accused of sexual harassment. It has also led to the fabrication of a scenario where men should be scared of false allegations, rather than supporting women. As president Donald Trump said that it’s a “scary time” for young men as they can face sexual assault allegations and ruin their career (Beckwith, 2018).
However, by deeming #Metoo to be an anti-men movement, it undermines the need and importance of #Metoo movement. The purpose of #Metoo is much larger than just being another social media trend. The desired result of #Metoo doesn't limit to just the punishment of the sexual predators, but it also aims to change the way women are treated in society. As Justice Patel said that no woman in the #MeToo movement is demanding that her offender be hanged, “She is saying please test my accusations but do it in a way that works” (Dhayalkar, 2018). Thus #Metoo movement in the present context is important because it inspires women to raise her voice, in solidarity with other women and men, giving them the power to name their sexual predator. #Metoo movement has caused a significant shift in society by providing the power to the victim then the accused. Through #Metoo movement sexual predators in power are called out, and they are given a fair chance of fighting for justice, something which wasn't easy before.
Contrary to popular beliefs, #Metoo movement is not restricted to women facing sexual harassment alone; it is also about powerful women preying on their subordinate men or a homosexual man /woman preying on another man/woman in his/her office or elsewhere under the shields of their power. Unlike other social media movement's, #Metoo is personal as every woman, and also men have a #Metoo story to share. Though #Metoo movement doesn’t target a specific gender, it is imperative to understand that women are the major victim of sexual harassment. This is because patriarchy has instilled the values that men are superior to women. This feeling of superiority among men let them ill-treat women with no moral responsibility. It also discourages a woman to raise her voice against men, especially if he is someone in power.
Any change in society requires the collective efforts of people. That’s why a movement for gender equality must be supported and rallied by men as well. More men should be engaged, and awareness programs must be held as to how men should behave with their women counterparts in different spatial contexts. This change must be from within, on an individual level. We have been talking about equal treatment of women since decades. It is about time to put our thoughts into actions. The society should empathise with the victim, giving the benefit of the doubt to the victim than the accused. It is not easy for a woman to speak against the sexual misconduct of the perpetrator, for reasons such as sheer embarrassment of being labelled as ‘characterless’, accusations of lying, fear of ruining their career, the threat from the perpetrator(s), etc. All these signal that the practice of ‘victim blaming’ is entrenched in the society and the necessity to inculcate solidarity among us. When the feeling of solidarity is instilled in the society, women would not be afraid to speak up against their sexual perpetrators. Lack of solidarity for women led to the emergence of #Metoo movement. #Metoo emerged to show solidarity to the victim. It gives courage to the victim, to help them come forward to put forth their story, to make them realise that they are not alone in this ordeal.
The #Metoo movement is yet to roll out too far. However, this movement has given an opportunity for women to speak out and expose the predators. The institutions/ organisations might ignore the complaint of a single woman, but they are less likely to ignore collective voices. #MeToo laid the groundwork for two major results. One is the acceptance that sexual harassment (not just sexual assault) is unacceptable in the society. Two, this movement helps us to gain a sense of the problem, and make people aware of the scale of the sexual harassment that remains pervasive in public. The ultimate goal of the #Metoo movement is that there should come a time when no person would ever feel the need for #Metoo.
Beckwith, R. T. (2018). 'A Scary Time for Young Men.' President Trump Decries Sexual Assault Allegations. TIME.
Dhayalkar, S. (2018). Bombay High Court judge supports #MeToo; criticises ‘nauseating patriarchy’ in legal profession. The Indian Express.
Image credit: capitalkfm.com
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