#MeToo: A take on speaking up — silently.
For the non-twitter enabled — some ideas on getting the message across — through traditional ‘media’.
*Kolam. Rangoli. Warli paintings on walls…India has had a tradition of social media long before the phrase came into existence.
A couple of mornings ago, walking my dogs as usual, I observed a woman applying kolam at her doorstep — something I’ve seen a thousand times before. But this time — as I walked past — I thought — what if every woman who has ever faced unwelcome sexual advances/assault/molestation/eve-teasing — call it what you will — if every woman with an experience of that in her past were to silently include a beautiful #MeToo in her kolam/rangoli design for the day — would even one street in India be without that silent, damning design?
I think not.
And wouldn’t it be such a powerful message in its silent anonymity — naming no names, seeking no revenge, bereft of any attempt at trial by social media? Just a kolam for every passerby to view — silently saying #MeToo.
Taking the thought further — the West has its tradition of Halloween — where front porches and lawns are decorated with all manner of monsters and skeletons and witches. Perfect setting for a #MeToo splattered bloodlike across a garage door perhaps? Again no vengeful motive — just an ‘outing’ of a self that has stayed silent for too long…the liberation of saying at last … yes…me too.
A statement of solidarity against a mindset so universal and so accepted as the ‘way of the world’ that it is drawing shock, anger, denial and counter-accusations now that is being pointed out and publicly protested at last.
Trial by public opinion vs. judicial recourse
The loudest squeals of outrage seem to be about the ‘ unfairness’ of using social media to generate a sort of ‘trial by public opinion’. Those outraged voices talk of ‘ judicial recourse’ as being the correct way to go about it. I fully agree that judicial recourse should be the correct way to go about it. But compare the laughable state and pace of our judiciary with the immediacy of the Internet and, frankly, it’s a no contest.
(As an ‘ amusing’ aside here, I recently received a call from a sub-inspector of police asking me if I had the address of the man who had molested me on an airport bus. This call came nine years after I filed the FIR against that man. Nine years. I should also mention here that, when the incident happened, the police at that particular station showed huge reluctance to actually take down my statement and create an official FIR. They just didn’t want to be bothered with such a ‘ small’ thing I guess? It took more than three hours of stubborn insistence on my part to get the FIR created and registered. Perhaps in another 9 years I will get another call asking if I have the phone number of the accused.)
The point I’m making is that I am a reasonably ‘ empowered’ woman with resources at my disposal and I still faced stonewalling. I cannot even imagine the plight of a less fortunate person in similar (or worse) circumstances. Can you?
And — in that context — can anyone seriously expect a hitherto voiceless victim who discovers a powerful platform on which to finally reveal an abuse of power, to debate the ‘fairness’ of using it? Seriously?
The inevitable misuse of newfound power
And yes, of course there will be the bad apples in the crop — those that misuse this platform with false accusations and personal vendettas. That too is a fall-out of the neutrality of the internet. But should we let this diminish or demean the genuine voices of long suppressed anguish and newfound courage?
And for those who point out women harass men, women harass women, I can only say yes, yes, yes and yes. Those are separate battles in this war against abuse of power of any kind.
So why not take gender out of it and recognize this for what it is — a backlash against an abuse of power. Isn’t the history of the world is replete with such ‘backlashes’?
The only outcome I am hoping for is that future abusers of power may now at least think twice about exercising their ‘entitlement’.
If even that happens, all of this turmoil, all of this churn will have been worth it.
With that hope as an impetus- as a woman with no agenda, no vendetta and nothing to gain or lose — my biggest crime would be to stay silent.
Which is why today I ‘ out’ myself.
I am only one
But I am One
I cannot do everything
But I can do something
I will not let what I cannot do
Interfere with what I can do
* Kolam, Rangoli, Warli painting are traditional Indian art forms that are used to decorate the entrances and walls of homes.