Looking for a catharsis? Well #MeToo

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#MeToo

For how long will we reproach the short skirts and the skinny jeans for all trouble she has to go through just because this patriarchy empowers a man to do so? They say she invites the perpetrators by going out all alone late at night. They say that boys will be boys. From all that should be said and done to all that is talked about the issue loses its substance and ends up being a history. If you have been following Twitter or Facebook you must have witnessed hundreds and thousands of women rallying and raising hue and cry about sexual harassment through #MeToo.

The campaign originally kicked off on 15th October when, in response to further allegations against Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein (he was accused of sexual misconduct), actress Alyssa Milano tweeted the following note: “Suggested by a friend: If all the women who have been sexually harassed or assaulted wrote ‘Me too’ as a status, we might give people a sense of the magnitude of the problem,” she said.

In less than 24 hours it had a million likes and also multiple shares on Facebook. Many great celebrities came forward to share their stories and apparently it is the trendiest topic right now. Something which was a result of a suggestion from a friend is currently giving strength to millions of women across globe to share their stories or to simply share the hashtag if they have ever found themselves in such horrific situations.

#MeToo

On Indian social media too, the #MeToo campaign is gaining momentum as females of all age groups are expressing their anguish over the matter. The idea is to create awareness about how women get sexually harassed on a daily basis and how getting through each day is a horror in itself.

As popular as this campaign is getting what is worth remembering is that it not the first time that women have come forward to raise their voices against sexual harassment in public.

AIB- It’s Your Fault
Kalki Koechlin was featured in a film that took a sardonic take on the stereotypical social mindset of victim-blaming for any act of sexual harassment. Through the content of this film, AIB attempts to evoke a sense of shame and awareness.

Ghadi Detergent
On the occasion of Holi, Ghadi Detergent chose to address the sexual harassment issue women face in this country under the mask of festivity fun. The campaign was appreciated and received 3.6M views and 199k reactions on Facebook.

#BriefMessage Campaign
To honor the International Women’s Day a campaign, #BriefMessage was published where women on social platforms were encouraged to write an empowering message against women assault.

#RapeCultureIsWhen
Writer and political analyst Zerlina Maxwell gave birth to the popular hashtag, #rapecultureiswhen on March 25, 2014, in order to draw attention to the ways in which society blames victims of assault and rape

One thing which is clear is that this not the first time that women have gathered to raise consciousness about sexual harassment in public or at work place and definitely it seems like it won’t be the last. So, the question lies the same that when will this stop or what else do we have to do to actually curb such horrific menace. Another issue which pops up is whether portraying the issue in such anonymous way would truly have any deterring effect or not. From all the past experiences it does seem like that this too will end up being a short time inconsequential campaign. So where do things go wrong?

#MeToo

One problem with the #MeToo campaign is that despite its popularity there are still many girls who are afraid to share their stories because of the stigma that it shall be accompanying the story, and are afraid of the consequences of the same. Another issue which might fail this campaign is that men are not joining in as much as they are expected to be because there are many cases of sexual exploitation of young boys or homosexuals which are no longer obscure. (though they have responded with the #HowIWillChange campaign)

What is important to highlight is that the #MeToo campaign is against sexual harassment and not just men. It would revive a lot of faith and confidence within the female society if men out there support this cause and back up the campaign by condemning such shameful acts.

It’s an accepted fact that once a campaign goes viral it ends up losing its original cause and gets transformed in some other public stunt. This happens because of the people who join such movements just to have a shot of some sort of popularity which saps the public interest out of the same. We have no control over it and can in no way sift out the genuine stories from the fake ones. What hurts the most is that in the light of botched up stories which end up gaining more attention a real tale of horror loses its much-needed attention.

#MeToo

The best that can be hoped out of this campaign is that a bit of consciousness is infused in the minds of such harassers and bullies. Need is to resort to stricter methods to put a leash on such incidents. Better security, better availability of public transport and most importantly better upbringing so that no one walks around with the idea of thinking that harassing someone is something cool or reflects some sort of confidence. What girls can do better than waiting for a campaign like #MeToo to share their woes is actually talk about the same with a confidant so that they don’t end up suffering alone. I agree that being anonymous feels safe but that won’t solve the problem or won’t protect you from something like that in future.

Without being skeptical about the whole situation and turning it into another feminazi stunt we should make sure that we don’t end generalizing the whole male community because in a world like ours everything does not exist in black and white. What is needed is a collaborative effort to show such perpetrators that all their shenanigans won’t be tolerated in silence.

-Armaan Sandhu

Read more about her here.

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