“It is time when we all see gender as a spectrum instead of two sets of opposing ideals”. – Emma Watson
The hashtag ‘MeToo’ went viral in October last year as a movement used on social media to highlight the widespread prevalence of sexual assault and harassment, especially in the workplace. Tarana Burke, a social activist, started using the phrase to help survivors realise that they were not alone. It also gained momentum on the social media when many Hollywood actresses shared their stories. This gave other women the encouragement to tweet about it to “give people a sense of the magnitude of the problem”.
Public revelations of sexual misconduct allegations against an American film producer, Harvey Weinstein was the first step towards recognising workplace harassment as an endemic problem. By October 31, over 80 women had made allegations against him. The allegations lead to other influential men like Louis C.K and Kevin Spacey being accused of sexual assault.
Around this time, the #NotAllMen again came to the fore with other men reiterating that not all of them are potential rapists. Counter-arguments asking people to refrain from generalising and putting all men in a box also came to the fore.
Khyati Vardhan Mishra, a student from the University of Petroleum and Energy Studies, Dehradun, was in complete disapproval with the #MeToo movement and considers it unreasonable. He said, “It is high time with women empowerment, many get away by just playing the victim card,” adding, “#NotAllMen is like my voice. I know some people disrespect and can potentially harm women, but not all of us are like that. We are not all criminals in the making.”
Gita Kumari, JNUSU President at the Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, believes the #NotAllMen movement was not required. She informed, “We already know that not all men are same, but men should take the responsibility to educate other men.” According to her, #MeToo is a revolutionary mass movement which has given courage to women to speak out about traumatic instances of abuse and harassment.
Many men and women from different backgrounds, caste and colour, have been the victim of sexual harassment. Many new media platforms have raised concerns over the matter and openly supported and criticised the cause, as well. The question here is, do we need to have the same consideration towards men before labelling them as ‘molesters’ or ‘potential rapists’ or we need to examine the situation critically?
It is undoubtedly clear that the movement helped many women in finding their voices and sharing their harrowing stories. As a woman, I understand that we are increasingly finding it difficult to trust men with more and more instances of abuse coming out in the open. This is exactly why we have to make men a part of the conversation and make them realise and see the pervasive discrimination women have been facing for years together. It is important for both men and women to speak their mind, but also think twice before jumping to any conclusion.