It seemed as if a dam was waiting to open up. And it happened. The #MeToo has opened floodgates of allegations of sexual abuse. No one is spared in the sudden surge of charges: journalists, film personalities; writers, politicians … all are caught in the whirlpool. The suave damsels of yesteryears, who silently suffered under pressure of overarching bosses, are opening up; they are no more willing to take it lying. They are giving back in the same coin. The charges are wide-ranging: a few were sexually assaulted, not once but many times over a period; some were pawed; others were groped; some others were harassed via sexting or similar means. The pent-up feelings of the victims, dammed for long, are now gushing out.
As the #MeToo gains momentum, some have gone to the court against the ‘victims’. Others are looking for lame excuses to wriggle out of the situation of their own making. The ‘accused’ are raising the bogey of the ‘prey’ waiting for so long to come out with the charges. “What were they doing all these years,” they try to defend the indefensible. But they miss the woods for the trees. In most cases, the victims were docile subordinates trying to find a place in their career; and most of the ‘accused’ were indomitable bosses who could make or mar their careers. Maneka Gandhi, the Minister for Child and Women Development, alluding to the happenings in the Church, answers those who question the delay in coming out with #MeToo. She said: “In the West, many people had come out to complain against Catholic priests long after they were abused as kids.” In fact, her Ministry is looking at a proposal to remove the limitation period in this regard.
The trigger for the #MeToo came a year back when The New York Times reported that dozens of women had accused film producer Harvey Weinstein of rape and sexual abuse over a period of 30 years. This led to women in large numbers coming out with their traumatic sexual exploitations at the hands of Weinstein and many others in the U.S. The ‘MeToo’ went viral, crossing the seas to reach India with Tanushree Dutta recently taking the name of actor Nana Patekar as one who sexually tormented her. This spread like a wild fire hitting many more stars and VIPs in the process.
Two points call for our attention. Will a #MeToo campaign end the widespread sexual abuse which has more to do with the mindset of people and moral degradation plaguing the society? Will the online protests and exposures put axe to the deep-rooted perception about women as someone meant to be subjugated? How far naming and shaming will work in a society where the majority of men prefer to commodify women? An equally important issue that begs to get our attention is the fate of men who probably tried to flirt with, but became victims of #MeToo. There could be cases of someone’s reputation getting obliterated over actions which were not meant to be so. In any case, the anger that pours out through the movement sends out a strong message for the menfolk.(Published on 22nd October 2018, Volume XXX, Issue 43)