#MeToo

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Generations of women ~ young and old ~ have suffered in the imprisoning silence of ugly memories and persistent nightmares, which we have lived and died with. For centuries these imprisoning silence of ugly memories and persistent nightmares have been breaking free through numerous ways such as the emergence of the feminist ideology, which underscores the equality of the sexes and women’s right to their bodies, minds and spaces; and through women’s writings in the form of poetry, stories, autobiographies, memoirs, films, songs, drama and protest marches and rallies. Some have taken the drastic forms of suicides and murders. Some have resulted in mental ailments and psychological traumas. In a patriarchal atmosphere and environment women are dictated to be silent and our voices inevitably silenced. This is further compounded by the general disbelief that envelops women ~ she is always a liar. Over the centuries, women have fought back to be heard, to be listened so the #MeToo movement that began in Hollywood sometime last year is not actually a totally new development but a carrying forward of the flames of women’s struggle just to be women, just to be human. Just as centuries before, even now women who are speaking out about the invasion of their bodies, minds and spaces are still being questioned on the credibility of their allegations, their characters dissected and proof demanded ~ even by women themselves. But how do you prove rapes, physical, mental and verbal assaults, harassments and molestations when they are never done in the full frontal view of witnesses, or the public? And, in India, how many people have actually stopped a husband from battering his wife when the whole village/colony/neighbourhood can hear his abuses and her anguished cries? How many people have stopped girls and women from being eve-teased, harassed, molested in broad daylight in cities, towns, villages, neighbourhoods? The questions are by no means exhausted but suffice it to say that such instances are inevitably “private, domestic matters”, “she asked for it”, “she should have covered herself better”, “what proof does she have”, etc. Clearly, patriarchy works overtime to silence the brutalities heaped on women consciously, methodically and insidiously. But apparently patriarchy didn’t contend for technology ~ which has always been controlled by men. Ironically, the greed for profits has unintentionally democratized technology so now women, who have always been adept with all forms of technology, are using it in the most creative forms to strike back. Yes, technology has given a platform to women to speak, to be heard, to be listened to and to be taken seriously because the reputation, careers and family lives of predatory men ~ in all walks of life ~ are at stake; some have been irreparably destroyed. As much as crimes against women destroy the lives of victims, so also the lives of the perpetrators of these crimes are destroyed when revealed. So now you see why women have always been silenced? But brave women are using technology to say no more to crimes against them and equally no to silence. Most women are not bothered whether the perpetrators are tried in and sentenced by a court of law ~ it is enough that they have broken their own imprisonment from silence. The rest is up to the law of the land to take its own course ~ for the onus of proof is not on the victim and let not distortion of law or the misinterpretation/misrepresentation of law once again burden the victim with the onus of proof. The accused must prove his innocence. Patriarchy gifts males with the sense of entitlement but now women are appropriating this same sense of entitlement by speaking out through the #MeToo movement. A very happy development indeed! However, a cautionary note here ~ no women, no girl must be pressurized to reveal the brutalities she has suffered. While that hint of revenge is only human, the #MeToo is not about revenge as it is about justice; and more importantly it is about catharsis. Millions of women have suffered the worst forms of men’s bestialities and most have found their inner strengths to move forward with life after some form of catharsis or the other ~ for the present times the #MeToo movement couldn’t have come earlier. We all have our #MeToo stories ~ let’s give each other time to tell them when we are ready ~ and, when we find the words to tell our stories.