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You too are Involved in every #MeToo Story

It’s so scary to open social media sites these days. With scores of women coming out, naming individuals who have sexually harassed them, you never know idol of yours have collapsed moral values and have just disappointed you to the core. The #MeToo campaign has come out as an eye-opener for so many of us. There are so many names that you have looked up to, and today you just don’t know how much you should be disappointed with them.

The Indian society is currently gearing up to worship goddess Durga, the fearless goddess who descended to kill the demon Mahishasura, who waged a war against the Devas. Wikipedia says that Mahishasura was known for deception and he pursued his evil ways by shapeshifting into different forms. Well, not a fan of mythology, but you don’t need to look far if you want to trace traits of Mahishasura in contemporary society.

Workplace superiors, mentors, teachers, idols and legends; the deceptiveness of so many of these demons, who have portrayed themselves as figures of public importance, leaders of social justice and personalities with immaculate characters, have now been shattered by numerous women, who have been victims of sexual harassment of different degrees.

The perspective of writing this piece, however, is something different and a little bit personal. In the last few days, numerous names that I know have been included in the list of harassers and there are names, very close to me, who have been harassed. And it feels my mind with deep anguish and anger.
It’s a situation where you question your own conscience. When a really close peer of yours is accused of sexual harassment, don’t you also share a moral guilt of what went wrong? A close peer means that you share a considerable amount of space and time together, and at the same time, you share a somewhat similar thought process.

The process of becoming friends includes conversations, deliberations, discussions and so much more. And in this due process, you often come across the actual character of a person. There are often times when you subconsciously or consciously support some thoughts which just might be the tip of the iceberg of the problem we are dealing with. And this problem is largely related to taking things for granted.

So, a small internal joke can actually be a big trigger of something really unfortunate. And is this where we have collectively failed?  You never know what remote contribution of ours validated the thought process of the accused, which resulted in the heinous act. And this feeling isn’t a great a one. You are not just disappointed with the person, but also with yourself.

The other scenario is even more distressing. When someone close to you is harassed. The anguish and anger can be nerve wrecking. Of course, it’s nowhere close to what the victim suffers, but when you see your loved ones going through it, you also suffer agony. Someone very close to me had to go through the ordeal of workplace harassment by someone who we all looked up to. And I just can’t describe in words how it feels. You share the mental trauma with the victim and your fury against the harasser.  

Now let’s go back to the previous situation. When you have one of your peers being accused of being a sexual harasser? Do you feel the same anger and trauma as you probably did on the second instance? Probably not. And this I believe is the centre of the nerve.

We Indians as a society, do not take the concept of empathy very well. We don’t understand things till it happens to us or to someone who is close to us. We are rigid society rigged with inherent sexism, patriarchy and racism and there is no shying away from it. And at the end of the day, we are also hypocrites. And the earlier we realise it, the better it is.

For every #MeToo story that has popped up, somewhere you are involved too. More than empathy I believe there is a lot in terms of morality that we need to grow and develop in the Indian society.

The shock of seeing a journalist like MJ Akbar being accused of heinous harassment, actors like Rajat Kapoor being accused of misconduct, are things that you don’t take well. And more importantly, when you have your nears ones affected by it, you seriously start questioning a lot of things around.


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