A campaign for awareness, any campaign that upends our social structure, any campaign that attempts to destroy the regressive mindsets and malpractices rampant in our world – whether active on ground or on social media – can only lay a constructive foundation. A foundation for change, for the better – for growth.
I woke up today with my Facebook news-feed teeming with #metoo. The hidden knowledge of the pain that many girls and women have been or are going through was coming out in the open. The pain was finally being acknowledged and shared. I felt both hurt and relieved to be a part of their pain or rather to see the acceptance and sharing of our mutual pain, which we experienced but were carrying privately within ourselves. An open secret which was not a secret anymore made me feel empowered. Somewhere it soothed the pain I have been carrying within for years.
And then I came across a very painful perspective on social media, which got me thinking , thereby creating space for this article.
“Some consider this as a showing off or as just another fanciful trend, which many women are latching on to just to garner sympathy or attention!! That eve-teasing or a pinch or two here or there is not sexually abusive – they are merely par for the course, a normal occurrence not to be taken seriously. (Huh??!)”
People are asking – why talk about it? Some are even calling this speaking up a fall from one’s dignity and grace. Huh? So accepting sexual abuse silently or within a closed circle of few is dignified? Seriously?
To such people I would say that hiding a crime is akin to abetment and gross injustice not only to oneself but also other prospective survivors. Most importantly, silence encourages the evil to grow. The light must shine strong and bright for the darkness to meet its rightful end.
Speaking up is important. Staying silent about a crime encourages it. A lot of us would not have had the courage to speak up if not for the #metoo campaign. When you see others, especially those who are celebrities or are perceived as strong, speak up, you find the courage to remove the layers you had hidden your own pain under.
No sexual offense is trivial. A pinch, pawing, cat-calling – none of these are trivial. Each of these affect the survivor adversely and set a precedence for a culture of suppression, harassment, and abuse, leading to much bigger and horrifying acts like paedophilia, rape, foeticide, physical abuse, bride-burning, acid attacks, murders…
Let’s talk to raise a collective voice against a crime that has been accepted silently by our society/ families since ages.
Let us talk to shine the light in those dark spaces from which the perpetrators crawl out from.
Let us talk so our families understand the gravity of the pain one experiences and lives throughout one’s life.
Let us talk to create the space for many who are yet to speak up – who have no one they can confide in or talk to.
Let’s talk to empower the children and women in our respective circles. Empower them to acknowledge and accept their pain (as only then the healing can begin), to reclaim their identities and self-respect, and to stand up tall without shame or fear.
So if responding to someone’s call of courage by standing up and speaking out is what brings awareness, and perhaps beginning for a much needed change, then yes, I will speak up and so should you and all the conscientious, compassionate folks out there!
Acknowledging my pain, reclaiming my self-respect, letting go of the shame of being abused, speaking up, standing tall – to empower myself and many like me. The light must shine bright and strong for the darkness to end. If the collective brightness of the light hurts your eyes, wear shades! But stop trying to stifle and suppress the voices now.
There is power in togetherness. There is power, and there’s hope for healing and starting afresh when you accept and are able to boldly say: #MeToo!