#MeToo exposes a chilling truth: Not a single woman is spared of sexual harassment

There is a pattern at play to tell women that their dreams are despised, their existence threatened and this world is no place for them.

 |  5-minute read |   16-10-2017
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#MeToo is flooding social media platforms and the picture emerging out of it is so horrible that it pulls us all down in shame. It's a reality - living, breathing and thriving - so horrid that it threatens the very fabric of our society.

The worldwide social media campaign asks men and women to break their silence - tweet or post #MeToo - if they have ever been victims of sexual abuse. The campaign kicked-off in the wake of allegations of sexual abuse against movie mogul Harvey Weinstein and exploitation of myriad women. Weinstein targeted models, actresses, former employees, almost every woman who came his way, to tame his sexual perversions.

But in this exercise to strip women, his mask was pulled off and he was exposed as a rapist and misogynist, who saw little else in women apart from sex objects who were to be used and then discarded. It helped to occupy a position of power.

One by one, a stream of women came out, many anonymously, to accuse Weinstein of sexual harassment and abuse dating as far back as the 1990s after The New York Times published testimonies of eight women abused by the Hollywood producer.

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It was like every woman who came in contact with Weinstein stood up to say "Me Too", highlighting the extent and the magnitude of the problem. It left the world shocked and also disturbed.

But the campaign that started in the wake of Weinstein's unmasking is so much more disturbing and unsettling that it has left many numb. It seems like we do not have a single woman who has not been sexually abused or exploited in some form or the other, at some point in life or the other. There are women saying #MeToo and then there are those not saying anything, the world is waiting for that one woman, who would say "not me". This is wishful thinking because behind the silence of the victims is a screaming, screeching reality, which says "we have all been abused".

This is a statement on what we have done to our women, on how there is a pattern at play to tell women that their dreams are despised, their existence threatened and how this world is no place for women.

Yes, women have fought back. They have questioned discrimination, raised their voice against subversion and refused to be cowed down by patriarchy and its architects. This campaign, women coming out to report rape, women stepping out of the house in defiance of social constructs, Weinstein's exposure, they are all proof, women are fighting back and fighting hard. But their enemy is powerful and has the strength of unity. Men have come together in this systematic subversion of women and that is why we don't have one woman who has not been a victim.

This is no male bashing opportunity - but yes - it shows men a mirror. Men must see what has become of them in this politics of gendered hate whose roots are so deep that all attempts to reach it have failed. What does it say about our men? They must also ask why. Why are they abusing women? What is it about male sexuality that compels them to force themselves on others?

These questions are important. The #MeToo campaign proves that the exercise to find the answers must begin in earnest.

Mulayam Singh had once infamously made a case for lighter punishment for rape accused. "Rape accused should not be hanged. Men make mistakes," the Samajwadi Party patron had said at a public rally.

He drew wide-spread flak for it. But Mulayam is no naive politician. He knew the impact his remarks would make. He said what he said deliberately. His politics of hatred for women has takers. And that it is precisely where the story gets really dangerous. Crimes against women have supporters because for them it's a matter of entitlement. A divine right men are born with, that is why even divinity is largely male worldwide.

In India, we have a special reason to mourn over the findings of this campaign, our divinity has so many women, whom we revere and swear by. How then do we go ahead to dishonour that same gender?

When the exploiters are ubiquitous with engines supporting this politics of power, what hope do the women have? Who should we turn to for help?

This time the onus is on men to find answers and reflect on what has become of them. Those who think women must remain within the confines of homes, (they forget they haven't left the homes safe) must please understand that it their unhindered access to areas where women venture which is making the spectacle so dark and dreary that it is not acceptable any more.

Also read: Jharkhand girl starving to death shows ‘Aadhaar savings’ built on gross exclusions

Writer

Vandana Vandana @vsinghhere

Author is Assistant Editor, DailyO.

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