Anyone who follows the news will know about the #MeToo wave that has travelled from Hollywood to India.
Just like we always ruin everything we adapt from the west, we did the same with this movement by adding unecessary . The #MeToo wave in Hollywood took many big names like Harvey Weinstein and Kevin Spacey. They were collectively ostracised from the entertainment fraternity.
Recently, we also started on the same path, with Tanushree Dutta calling out Nana Patekar. This triggered an unprecedented act of people coming out and naming other “celebrities” from all fields be it politics, music, stand-up comedy or journalism. Everything seemed to be going in the right direction, and actions were expected to take place. But, people ended up making the victims and the movement a joke.
We all have been receiving WhatsApp forwards, Facebook and Twitter posts and memes making fun and ridiculing the entire movement with some totally illogical and skewed opinions. Let’s take a deep dive into the most common responses and then understand the gravity of the situation at hand.
Many women who came out and told their stories were blamed for using this as a launch-pad for their otherwise dwindling careers. Even if these statements were to be true, does this deny the occurrence of such incidents? A publicity stunt is when a “respected news anchor” screams at the top of his lungs in the guise of a “debate”. It is when self-proclaimed god-men rant utter nonsense for their gullible followers. It is also when politicians are saying absolutely horrible things just to grab some eyeballs. Have we become so degenerated as a society that we are comparing the account of someone’s’ worst moment of their lives to be the same as stunts pulled by journalists and politicians. And even if this gives them some publicity then isn’t the accused responsible for so many victims to quit or change their professions. It only seems befitting that the victim’s return to so-called fame is at the hands of the accused themselves.
Go back a little in your childhood. Almost all of us used to think Santa Claus is real. We all happily slept on the Christmas eve, wrote letters to Santa and opened eyes on the next day surrounded by gifts. It was only when we grew a little older did we realise that Santa is not real. We were in denial for a while, but eventually, we accepted it is true. Santa is not real.
This acceptance also came when we saw other kids of our age already accepting the reality. Similar is also the tale of #MeToo. All this while we were in denial or more commonly not aware of the forms of harassment and recourse available at our disposal. Only when people started coming forward with their stories, others also gained courage and got the outlet to channel the feelings they had kept bottled up for so long. So many of us including me did not know what all comes under the ambit of harassment. Just the fact that we are ignorant does not mean we are not guilty. Also that acts which took place a decade ago do not come with an expiry date, if their consequences on an individual are everlasting then so should be the freedom of acknowledging and bringing it to the notice of everyone.
This is definitely a grey area, because of the incredibly creepy people who sent out derogatory messages and unsolicited pictures which could be used later as evidence, in most cases it is merely the word of the victim against the accused. This is a question that we collectively as a society need to address. Do we place the burden of proof on the victim or do we put the burden of admission of guilt on the accused? Sadly, we mostly choose the former option. Any statement of the victim is declared hearsay. If we cannot prove the accused as innocent, we surely do not have any right to discard the statement of the victim.
People, who actually believe the above statement, are the ones who have something to hide. We all misused the law at some point. We all are guilty of bribing officers, drunk driving, violating traffic rules. All these acts do some collateral damage. In any manufacturing process, small wastage is treated as a normal loss. For example, while carrying oil by sea, some amount of the oil spill is treated as a normal loss, and the loss of ocean habitat is the collateral damage. Do we stop the manufacturing processes to curb the normal loss? NO!!
People who might be falsely accused in this movement, are the collateral damage that we must treat as normal since that is the price we need to pay to pave the way for a better society to thrive.
The entire movement should not be just name-calling. There must be some legal amendments that can be done to launch investigations and get the victims some closure. #MeToo is not supposed to be a list of the offenders; instead, it must be the torch bearer in the process of getting the victim justice. Imagine we have only got to know about the so-called celebrities, what happens day to day to ‘ordinary’ people like you and me. We have barely scraped the surface, and now we need to get our hands dirty and deep dive into this rut to find a solution to the obstacles hindering the victim to be taken seriously.
Please stop with the jokes and the casual banter about this. If you know someone who has been a victim or worse the accused, call it out. Talk to the concerned people and urge the victim to come forward. This is not about bringing justice to the victim. No justice can compensate for the self-doubt, lack of career growth, and loss of opportunities. The only thing it will do is give them some closure and ensure that whatever they lost was not in vain.