Pro and Cons of # Me Too movement in India
The way # Me Too movement is catching up in India, leaves one wonder about as a nation where are we heading towards. Though the movement originated in U.S.A, reached its pinnacle with Hollywood film producer Harvey Weinstein, a high-profile man who made or ruined careers of many actors was castigated with charges of inappropriate relationships with multiple actresses. Then Followed by Bill Cosby, an American stand-up comedian, actor, musician, author, and convicted sex offender who is now languishing in jail. Cosby now 80 years old, is paying for his past sins. Similarly, Britt Kavanaugh, a hand pick of US President Donald Trump for the highest judiciary post, recently got elected as supreme court judge in a controversial voting of the senate. Dr Christine Blasey Ford (a woman, professor of psychology now) said Kavanaugh assaulted her while the two were in high school. This was a part of her #Me Too movement. Her confession of this sexual misconduct against Kavanaugh was an incident that had happened nearly thirty years ago. But it shook the American nation and divided people and vote. Barely with a thin margin Kavanaugh could win.
Here in India, we have an ancient tradition of respecting women. Yet there were and are aberration from the time immemorial. In Ramayana Sita and in Mahabharat Draupadi faced untold suffering and humiliation in the hands of villainous Ravan and Dushassan. However, their ordeals were ‘epic’. That lead to history of the epics Ramayana and Mahabharata. Those two women won their battles ultimately with the destruction and chaos of humungous proportion.
In India, we have a multi-layered society. The poor women bear the brunt silently. They are unaware of their rights in the Constitution. The middle-class women have their owes of harassment. The women in film-industry, media and corporate get the focus. They are highly ambitious. Their jobs have visibility and attention from public. They need a God-father/mentor to come up the ladder. There is little scope for the talented with no one in the background to prop them up. So, there is scope for favouritism. Many actors support their children in the industry to come up rather than outsiders of the field. The great actor’s children are untouched by the predatory thugs. The poorer aspirants themselves submit to the whims of the producers and directors who incidentally are their mentors. Such favours become quid-pro-quo. There are also predatory co-stars of higher ranks who rule the roost. Alok Nath is one such example.
Journalism is also a field that gives visibility. In the past, only the interested opted for the job of a reporter or journalist. Now with the multi-media in place and with out-let of many channels, many are thronging to get the glare. Whom to select, what are the priorities in the tens and thousands of people who apply, has become clue-less. So, therefore the entry of low moral standards into the domain which is bereft of standards. In the organised government institutions, the harassment level is lower and lesser. The immediate boss of a woman employee may taunt her but cannot do more than that. For, the system is hierarchical. There are bosses over bosses, justice could be obtained at one level or the other.
The pros of #Me Too are: 1. It highlights that women in India cannot be taken for granted. 2. It checks the patriarchal culture of looking down upon women. 3. It empowers women to share their secret agony with the other people (of both genders) to empathise with them. 4. Earlier, to say something of rape or inappropriate behaviour done towards the woman was a taboo, now it is no more. 5. Women are able to megaphone their humiliation for the higher-ups in the power structure to listen to.
The Cons of # Me Too are: 1. Belated grievances with no evidence in hand may ruin someone’s career, it may also lead to suspicion in the public eye. 2. Highly-egregious women who want to reach higher perches may succumb to the wants of some men voluntarily, later blaming them only to malign them in the public in itself would become a wicked-process. 3. Some women may frivolously make complaints on men in public-position and keep quiet after taking ‘Hush-money’. This bad practise may creep-in. This is not an unknown thing, it is being done to an extent in western countries.
In conclusion, historically women are wronged. They being the weaker sections, they are exploited. So, their genuine grievances should be heard. Now, they are empowered under many sections in the Indian Penal Code. The Constitution of India also grants equal rights and privileges. Women should show empathy on the other women and also good-will to men who are decent and well-behaved. There are certainly some young men in the above said fields of films, media and corporates who are equally sufferers and exploited lot. Let their suffering be favourably heard. In this milieu (of all the happenings), politicians of the country should not be spared. #Me Too is a wake-up call for politicians of all hues.
I am Indira Garimella living in Hyderabad. I hold a Master’s Degree and M. Phil (in English) with M.Ed. I worked as PGT in English in Government run Residential Schools. I have been associated with Pragna Bharati, Hyderabad (an RSS backed NGO) for the past 25 years. I was one of the office-bearers in the Organisation from 1994 to 2004 i.e. I was the in-charge of Publications during that period. I have been a keen observer of National Politics and also write letters and articles to the English and Telugu newspapers from time to time.