Metoo

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 05 Nov 2017 12:44:46


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

#ME TOO, has become the platform for open acknowledgments by women, powerful and common that evil exists and that needs to be taken by the horn. It has offered a sisterhood of sorts where hearts can open up, and evil, thriving for centuries, can be contained. The single most powerful step has been taken. The chain of silence has been broken. Narrating an ordeal is an ordeal in itself, but brave women – and also men- have come forward to relive a horrifying experience to save scores of others from the horrifying outcomes of self-pity, self-deprecation, seclusion and silence. The Hitavada Chief Sub-Editor Biraj Dixit elaborates.

 


It is hardly shocking. It should be, but it isn’t. The universality of it should have been appalling enough but it isn’t. We all have always known it, always known that it happened yet accepted it as way of life. Shame! So many centuries into civilisation and it is now that women – and men - are daring to admit that it was their fate too. A little harassment, an abuse, a crime, was and has always been, allowed as the only known answer, safe and suitable, was and is silence.

Though the silent silence, the silenced silence, the deafening silence all lie eloquently at the altar of society for it to act swiftly to stop an anarchy but for long it has chosen the comfort of silence. Consequently, that lusty stare, that coloured remark, that unintended intentional touch, that grope, that threat, that ‘you are an object’, “I can subjugate,” “Me the powerful” oppression continues for so long. The discomfort of taming such aberrations was too much work for society.


But these are uncomfortable times. The decibels of silence are too loud now. “Me too,” the cry is getting louder. The noise has significantly drowned the shame and need for seclusion that victims often subjected themselves to. It is no more an exclusive tragedy but an inclusive tale of trauma felt by so many.


#ME TOO, has become the platform for open acknowledgments by women, powerful and common that evil exists and that needs to be taken by the horn. It has offered a sisterhood of sorts where hearts can open up, and evil, thriving for centuries, can be contained. The single most powerful step has been taken. The chain of silence has been broken. Narrating an ordeal is an ordeal in itself, but brave women – and also men- have come forward to relive a horrifying experience to save scores of others from the horrifying outcomes of self-pity, self-deprecation, seclusion and silence. Taking heart from their experiences can be many who can and would stand tall against oppression, give it a suitable beating loud enough to force society to react in a manner it should.


It all started in the aftermath of the revelations against famed Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein. Cases after cases came to fore, from within and outside Hollywood when Weinstein’s conduct was called into question. The use and abuse of power was discussed and Hollywood’s ‘casting couch’ practices and ‘open secrets’ were discussed openly. Actor Alyassa Milano wrote on social media, “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.” And whoa, the magnitude! Within days, millions of women (and even men) took to social media to disclose instances of harassments and abuse that they had to suffer. Social media thus became a potent tool to shake the world hard enough to impress upon it the evil effect of its own silence. For Weinstein, his ‘open secret’ is truly out of closet now forcing society to react. He has since been removed from Miramax’s board of directors and expelled from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.


In India too, Priyanka Chopra’s assertion that there are ‘Weinsteins everywhere’ kicked up a storm of sorts when it has been an open secret for long. It is nothing new that men in power and position take liberties and exploit vulnerabilities to satisfy \their lust. They do not just include powerful film producers or presidents or any leader with connections or a boss wielding control over someone’s future prospects. They are anybody and anywhere who can spot vulnerability and abuse it. A secluded spot, a crowded bus, college campuses, or any other place where people have the propensity to look elsewhere while a crime is taking place can be dangerous. Dangerous, not just because of some with predatory instincts, but because of many who can conveniently forget their responsibility to ensure that their homes, organisations, cities and world are secure for women. Things appear to have really touched a nadir when stories of fathers abusing their daughters and men abusing infants and toddlers are reported.


For long, silence had helped these crimes go unchecked, unattended and emboldened. They feast upon victim’s sense of shame and disgust and society’s comfort at overlooking things. An acknowledgement has not just exposed a few ‘open secrets’, shamed the shameless and coaxed society and thus law to take its course but has also helped countless others rise above their shame and grief to name their abusers, to hold them accountable and to make them understand that irrespective of power, position and available means to subvert laws, their acts will not go unpunished. Lot many women have now come forward to blame the rich and powerful of crimes they committed abusing their power. Right from former US President George W Bush to great directors like Woody Allen and Roman Polanski, actors like Kevin Spacey and Bill Cosby many are finding it hard to hide away their actions.


It is indeed a great step forward. When the powerful are brought to book for their crimes and they themselves can sense vulnerability, it can surely restrict the absolute sense of power that they think they wield. It also tells others that the most powerful can be vulnerable and that no one can be above law. Future generations can also keep in mind that it is not okay to abuse power and not easy to get away such abuse.


Even as skeletons tumble out of iron closets and many big names face ignominy, it is still a long way to go before such abuse of power will become unthinkable. Yet, the most crucial silence has been broken and the shame has been lifted off the hearts of undeserving and fallen on to the shoulders where it should truly rest.