“A wonderful day to spend among women in leadership” said Rashmi Karthik an attendee of Women #BreakingBarriers Bangalore. Breaking Barriers is now coming to Pune, Panjim, Kolkata, Coimbatore, Chennai. Register now to attend!
So many ‘big’ names, powerful men, men who had their way with women behind closed doors until now are being called out in a torrent of Indian #MeToo posts. Men, be afraid, very afraid!
It’s a day when so many of us are crying, and yet celebrating. The #MeToo movement has finally hit India. With comedian Utsav Chakraborty being called out for his sexual misconduct, so many women, mostly in media have called out men in power who abused them. But even though is it horrifying, did we all not know the things happening behind closed doors?
If you want to know the unnerving stories, go through the twitter handle of journalist Anoo Bhuyan. She began the #MeToo thread yesterday, and has documented almost every story on her twitter handle. From the the great writer Kiran Nagarkar to journalists in power, so many of them are accused. It’s almost nauseating. You can read the list of men in this thread too, though fresh stories are still coming up.
If you read the names, from Utsav To Nagarkar, there is one thread that binds each of them. They are men in power, well educated, and they can be termed as ‘liberal’, supporting the women’s movement in India. If you go through Utsav’s twitter profile, it seems as if he’s quite a feminist. These men on the outside feel safe to women, and when they speak to us on public forums, we trust them. But what they do behind closed doors when no one is watching is another story.
Now, the question is why do they do it? Here is the plain simple truth. Because they can get away with it. The Indian eco system, work or otherwise doesn’t support women. Women are not believed. As little girls, shame is served on our tables the moment we raise our voices. Out of ‘love’ we are called, “guriyas.” And that is what we are supposed to remain- Dolls. Pretty and undisturbing.
When it comes to sexual abuse, it’s another universe altogether. We are first asked, if we are not imagining things. Like if a man is putting his hand on us or giving us sloppy kisses, it’s us who are imagining things! Patriarchy works smoothly. It doubts a woman’s word. Always. And of course when it is done by a man in power, our careers and characters are both at risk, and easily assassinated.
It’s really funny, how AIB confesses that Tanmay Bhatt, one of the co-founders of AIB knew what Utsav was up to. A gentle reminder that Tanmay Bhatt always stood out as the poster boy supporting women’s causes, but when it came to Utsav, he kept working with him, despite knowing he was sexually harassing young girls. This is how the eco system of abusers thrives. The other knows, they do nothing about it. The victim is silenced and abusers go on to thrive. That leaves a wounded woman, who takes years to heal her wound. Some don’t heal a lifetime.
There is an amazing counter-argument so many come up with. Why don’t women speak up right then and then move on?
Here is the thing. You cannot tell a woman how and when she feels safe to come out as a survivor. And if she ever wants to speak out. It depends upon her mental and emotional state if she wants to come out. Also, if you read these stories, so many women have come out, then and there, but no action was taken against the men. They continued to thrive. Just the way AIB somewhere protected Utsav, so many others are protected by their own. That includes women too. Patriarchy is so ingrained in all of us, that we see each other as competition and if one is assaulted, some see that as their own rise.
Men can do it because this is the expected norm. It is normalized. As a woman journalist said in her coming out, how they were treated as girls of loose character as they work outside home. The image patriarchy has of the fallen women who is in public spaces, is so deep ingrained that the so called ‘liberal’ man who can’t stop raving about human rights and feminism, can’t seem to escape it. It still holds true that if a woman is out is public, she is on her own and is asking for it.
This harassment which is a part of the Indian story is a result of the unchecked power men enjoy in a patriarchal society. A lawyer tweets about how as an intern she was harassed, and finally she took up writing as it seemed safer to her.
When we are as women bullied and harassed, and then told to compete with men, it’s a game of unequal opportunities. Not everyone has the mental strength to fight against it every day. It’s such an unequal battle. Just giving a degree does not end it all. It’s like putting acid on our feet and asking us to run at par with men. We need an equal eco system when women are treated as equals where we are judged on our capabilities. Comedian Mallika Dua also came out with how she was paid peanuts when being compared to her male counterparts. How tiring it is to be an Indian woman, only another Indian woman can understand.
Now that all these liberal men are being called out, it is shaking up this power politics. It was long overdue. Workplace or not, each one of us know, we had been there someday or the other. Now that there is public calling out, so many faces are trembling, and they must. We are tired of being pawned in this so called ‘man’s world’. At least now there will be some power check before a boss tries to glide his hand on to his intern.
We cannot win until we hit where it hurts them the most. Making sure that they don’t get work. AIB woke up only after the public outrage. And took down Utsav’s videos. They know, that people might not buy their tickets the next time. Money as they say is the biggest equalizer.
Keep raging women. Or it will hit our daughters and granddaughters tomorrow. It was only yesterday that I saw so much of sisterhood. That we as women matter. Our wounds. Our stories. Our hurt and all those sobs matter. Because women are supporting each other. And you who abuse, be afraid, very afraid.
As I end this, I envision how in this coming out as survivors, the first hand to raise has Draupadi’s. She is screaming as a 16 year old #MeToo. And we, following her in a line. The abusers now are forced to tumble. Now, Draupadi’s daughters are speaking, and that will split the power corridors and one day equality will be restored.
Until that day, let’s rage.
Image source: Twitter
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Proud Indian. Senior Writer at Women's Web. Columnist. Book Reviewer. Street Theatre - Aatish. Dreamer.
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