English   |   Bangla

#MeToo is very important. Do not trivialise it!

In a race to the next big name, let's not lose focus of the real issue.

 |  4-minute read |   11-10-2018
  • ---
    Total Shares

For every woman who has come forward to speak about her trauma at the hands of a predator, this is a significant period in our lives. That it has existed forever does not even begin to explain it.

How frightened these women must have been, compelled to remain silent and at times, to continue working alongside those very men as if nothing had every happened. How much psychological damage and pain they must have suffered. Then there would have been the whisperers and gossips – from both men and women – who would have labelled her. She would have lived through it all.

Now, when she has stepped forward, a little older, more confident and ready to face those ghosts from the past, we are having an ‘Oh My God’ moment.

Really, did this happen, with this person, so famous and all that?

Immediately some sort of judgement is made.

Why did it take so long? How did she continue to socially interact with him?

43406050_28749673185_101018062731.jpg#BelieveTheVictim (Photo: HUmans Of Patriarchy / Facebook)

We use words like ‘entrenched patriarchy,’ but that seems to mean absolutely nothing. Being a sexual predator is all about an elevated sense of power, the belief in one’s own infallibility, and that the other person cannot retaliate.

This, in fact, is the crux of the matter. Women have not been in any position to take a stand or fight it. This screaming (but silent) majority is everywhere around us. All of us have a #MeToo story.

Men have been in the majority in the workplace across the world. An American judge can own up to being drunk silly, and yet is believed when he says he never assaulted anyone. Did he even remember anything after being sloshed to the gills?

Closer home, we are looking at an outpouring of stories from women across all sectors now. All it tells me is that it was not my fault, nor was I alone when men were trespassing behavioural boundaries. They should be punished for that. That is an absolute given.

But let us just take a quick moment to evaluate and look at this issue from the basic principle it emanates from.

That a man misused his position of power to ask for sexual favours, failing which the woman’s career, aspirations, reputation and opportunities were negatively impacted. This specifically relates to an abuse of power, of influence. This also relates to women being unable to take a stand, sometimes being forced to submit because they were powerless.

 

vikas-bahl_101018030_101018064026.jpgFor every man who trivialises a woman, a dozen treat her with respect. (Photo: Indiatoday.in)

Where then does it leave the men who have approached women at the workplace or outside it, on the basis of a sexual attraction?

There is a very fine line that defines a #MeToo moment from that of establishing a relationship. If a man sends a message to a woman at the workplace revealing his attraction towards her and asks her out for a drink, would it be safe to say that he was not being a predator?

If she acquiesced, it would be a private matter between two consenting adults.

If she said no, and the man moved on, no damage would have been done.

If the woman said no, and the man then went on to humiliate her, harass her at work, make fun of her skills and/or persisted in violating her physical space, he would definitely be in the red zone. And if he did so with any woman in his line of sight, he is definitely a serial offender.

This is where the #MeToo moment must be very careful. That it does not reduce itself to naming and shaming famous men, and that publications don’t just end up trying to outdo each other in breaking the news about the next big name. It will turn it all into a circus and the real survivours will never get justice. Because a text message asking someone out on a date is not harassment. It is a part of everyday male-female interaction. Where we need to stand up and demand justice is where the definition of predatory sexual harassment is clear.

Let us also take this moment to remember that not all men are wired to jump on women. For every man who trivialises a lady, there are a dozen who treat her with great courtesy and respect. We should take note of that too, while remembering that most of us women have tales of being standalone voices in an office full of other women who never took our side or spoke a single word in support. #MeToo is a very important juncture in the working woman’s life. It should ensure justice — not sensationalism.

Also read: #MeToo: Surviving the badshah of the newsroom

 

Writer

Anjoo Mohun Anjoo Mohun @anjoomohun

The writer is addicted to sports and is indebted to the inventor of the flat screen TV.

Like DailyO Facebook page to know what's trending.