Critics Of #Metoo Need To Remember: This Is Not About Victimhood, It Is About Catharsis!

Posted: October 30, 2018

Many common criticisms of #meToo focus on the ‘poor men’ who now have to watch their behaviour. It’s time to put the focus back where it’s needed – on women who have always faced harassment and never had the opportunity to speak up.

#MeToo India has engulfed us in more ways than one. Media – print and social – have ensured we are in the know of all stories of abuse and harassment, most of which were known in hush-hush conversations, while a few others shocked us!

But let us all acknowledge one fact: in more ways than one, the stories on workplace harassment have for long existed and then hidden and remained ensconced in personal accounts to counsellors, personal diaries, HR departments and in nightmares.

#MeToo has been about spontaneous outpouring of harassment and abuse faced by women, but like all movements, soon enough it has seen massive criticism from diverse quarters as well, a few of which I will attempt to discuss and then debunk!

Common criticisms of #MeToo

  • #MeToo demonises males/male desires: At the workplace, women would much rather push all desires away, except the desire to work! It is as simple as that. Workplace sexual harassment issues is about power playing out in sinister ways and definitely needs to be called out.
  • #Metoo puts ‘unwanted passes’ in the same bracket as serious sexual harassment cases: The phrase ‘unwanted’ pretty much encompasses what it stands for – not wanted, not needed! Refer to point 1 – at the workplace, let work take precedence and remain the sole focus, not our dress, hair, clothes, body etc!
  • #MeToo has built a mob mentality like behaviour of confession contests: I would call this spontaneous outbursts of issues that have long been un-discussed, unacknowledged and unaddressed. The mob mentality accusation is unfair, since the voice of the women has very often been unheard and suddenly when they are out there and are speaking of all that has happened, it needs to be listened to and acknowledged. Often, small issues triggers revolutions and if social media has unleashed the murky side of workplace sexual harassment issues which left unaddressed have more often than not resulted in systemic undermining of women professionals, then it has to my mind ensured that perhaps 50% of Indian organisations will now look at the Prevention of Sexual Harassment(POSH) guidelines with greater seriousness than just a mandatory announcement of the setting up of an Internal Complaints Committee!

#MeToo was never about playing victims, it was about outing the behaviour of normalising sexual abuse of power at the hands of a few men. The #MeToo tales are not tales of women playing victims, they are accounts of abuse, of workplace transgressions that need to be called out.

#MeToo is not about about demonising men. It is about catharsis of something that took a long time to come!

Varsha Pillai is a former television journalist who quit the fast lane in media, when

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