Now is not your time. Now is not your time to point fingers and go ‘ah – ha’ at a fake claim and ignore the hundreds of real ones. Now is not your time to break the momentum of the movement by questioning its validity, pointing out its inconsistencies and asking for control mechanisms and accountability.
The control mechanism of this movement is in the name itself – #MeToo – as in not only has this happened to me but often by the same man. The stories that have gained widespread traction are not an anonymous woman DM-ing from a fake account, they are several women from different walks of life, who often do not know each other. THIS is where the accountability lies.
Now is not your time to ask for ‘due process and proof’, now is not your time to tell us to be cautious, we have been cautious all our lives. Many women did try to follow ‘due process’ when assaulted and no one heard them, no one took action. And what proof, do you ask? Do the survivors have to show marks made 10 years ago? Assault tapes? Eye witnesses? How many women have to be believed to take down one man?
Every social structure has a different framework of understanding and analysis, a different method of data collection. The detailed stories, the corroborative accounts, the whisper networks – this is proof and evidence but unfortunately even sexual assault has to be validated through the male gaze. Now is not your time to question the nature of our evidence by your narrow definitions.
If people are listening now it is because of the very public backlash and community response that you fear. The different manifestations of patriarchy have met with different strategies by women through history. The 1st Wave established the demand for universal suffrage, the 2nd and 3rd established the demands for equal pay, reproductive rights, right to express one’s sexuality and a call to intersectionality and solidarity across different races, castes, class and ethnicities. The 4th wave of feminism is demanding the right to not be subjected to sexual overtures without consent. Thanks to social media, Name and Shame is a new tool, a new negotiation strategy and a new protective measure for women to survive. Now is not the time to dilute our demands.
Name and Shame is used to publicly shame those who have gotten away with it in private. Yes, there can be misuse of this strategy like with literally EVERYTHING else in the world, even cotton candy, but now is not your time to focus on the marginal misuse of the movement and ignore the systemic misogyny of society. Now is the not the time to question these courageous women and their stories. No one is doing this for personal glory or money or attention, the stakes are too high, the backlash of societal judgement, and personal safety too powerful and there are no rewards. Only a sense of healing and solidarity for the survivors.
The stories of the survivors are horrifying, their burden to carry on quietly is amazing.yThe movement is a catharsis and a catharsis is not clean.
Now is not your time time to tell us how far we’ve come, how much progress women have made and how change takes time. Do not tell me to tone down my anger, modulate my voice and to be patient. You be patient now. The onus cannot always be on women to prove they have been assaulted, it’s high time you prove that you have not. You had centuries to fix this, you did not, Now. Is Not. Your. Time.
Your critique does not help in anyway other than to detract from the movement and dismiss the new negotiation strategies and survival tactics of the 4th Wave of Feminism in India. I expect better from you, I expect better from men, else get out of the way and let women clean up this sickening mess.
Now is your time to listen, to support, to believe not just the survivors but other women telling you that we’ve got this. We got the loopholes, we got the bugs and we are fixing it every day. Look at Sandhya Menon curating posts that collaborate accusations against predators, look at Faye D’souza culling out fake #MeToo accounts on air every night, look at Trisha Shetty offering legal advice to assaulted women, look at the thousands of women re-living their trauma by sharing their explicit stories to highlight the pattern of behaviour a predator follows and give credibility to their voices. Now is not your time to question the legitimacy of our methods. You had your chance and you blew it, repeatedly, so don’t expect us to fix in a day what you have broken over the years. As Jesse Williams said in his #BlackLivesMatter speech – ‘So what’s gonna happen is we are going to have equal rights and justice in our country or we will restructure their function and ours.’
So dear men, take a back seat, respectfully listen and let us fix this.