Since the last couple of years, the #MeToo movement has been gaining momentum across the planet. Tarana Burke, an African American women activist had coined the term when she failed to respond and comfort a 13 yr old sexual assault victim. Tarana hoped that she could have just said “MeToo” when the victim confided in her.
While it’s taken a long time coming, the movement has finally reached India and exploded at breakneck speed through Twitter and other social media platforms. It seems as though everyone has some or the other skeleton in their closet which seems to be tumbling out day by day. Obviously this has given rise to the fact that there could be fake allegations amidst the real victims as well.
But the important question is – Why is sexual harassment an important issue? Despite all the modernity, India is still a deeply patriarchal society. We still would prefer giving birth to boys than girls. We still feel boys don’t cry. We still feel that after marriage, the girl shouldn’t send money to her house. We still do not have a very fair representation of men and women at senior corporate levels. We still feel that women are the weaker sex. While things are changing for sure, for years men have thought that they hold the power equation in all walks of life. And they have done everything to maintain the status quo. They have felt that they can get away with anything whether its simply making a pass at a woman or even going all out for sexual favours.
#MeToo seems like a clarion call for women that enough is enough and they cannot and should not tolerate it anymore. Whether its staring at their breasts or flashing and masturbating in public, sending sleazy texts or intimidating by raw force, men need to realize that this behavior is not ok irrespective of the clothes worn by a woman. For years, it has all been passed off as harmless flirting. But when a women says #NoMeansNo, then you just need to back off.
While most of the victims of sexual harassment seem to be women, we must also not ignore the men who have gone through the same as well. No one should have to go through such horrific pain and torture. We should respect and applaud those who speak up rather than ridiculing them as weak.
This is why its important that we educate our children and everyone else around us on why sexual harassment cannot be tolerated anymore in any form regardless of gender.