American actress, Alyssa Milano, in October 2017, used the hashtag #MeToo on Twitter, urging women to speak up about their experiences with sexual assault or harassment. The tweet spread like wildfire. Very few would know that she did not coin the phrase; however, she did fan the sentiment. Tarana Burke had set up Me Too, an activist group, a long time back.
Moving on from specifics, let’s step back a little and observe holistically the raging #MeToo fire in India, which has touched almost everyone’s consciousness, across strata.
The internet generation discussed about Bill Cosby and Harvey Weinstein. However, it took Tanushree Dutta and Nana Patekar to ingrain the seriousness of the issue in each and every person in this country. Bollywood, after all, we all love and follow like a religion.
Tanushree’s voice spread and many women found courage to share their horrific stories, shaking the established and the establishment. Big companies have dissolved and holier-than-thou demi gods have been named and shamed. And the fire will engulf more.
There’s no point arguing that India still is a patriarchal society and women do face terrible working conditions. And #MeToo has led to a social awakening, with corporations and organizations taking measures to safeguard the interest of the fairer sex (read here: Producers Guild of India sets up a special committee to address sexual harassment at workplaces in the industry).
However, let’s look at some other aspects as well.
A molestation case filed by actor Preity Zinta against industrialist Ness Wadia in 2014 was today cancelled by the Bombay High Court. We still remember, the allegations made by Preity during the IPL season were covered at length by the media. However, the decision to nullify the allegation is being reported with almost muted strength.
It’s obvious that allegations and witch hunting boost ratings. Does anyone know what really is happening with the allegations leveled against Arunabh Kumar of TVF? Another high profile case which soon lost the interest of the media.
Almost every day, the #MeToo movement is throwing up new names in the air, which is leading to media trials and people being ousted from their offices.
As they say, there is no smoke without fire. There are so many #MeToo mentions now, that it’s taking the shape of an uncontrolled monster running helter-skelter, and destroying the very soul of it.
Arnab Goswami repeatedly asked Tanushree Dutta on why she’s not filed a police complaint (during an interview), which she did later. TV veteran Vinta Nanda, who leveled rape charges against Alok Nath, is yet to file a legal complaint (till the time of reporting this).
Pooja Bhatt, during an interview, said that those who are perpretators must be punished; however, allegations have to be proven.
The American #MeToo movement gained credibility for it saw its logical legal ending. Mere naming and shaming on social media could lead to protests attached to personal vendetta, vested interests and often, to aim for the proverbial 15 minutes of fame.
Ekta Kapoor in an article stated that yes, producers do misuse power at times, but actors too use their sexuality to grab job offers.
#Metoo is not only for women, men too bear the brunt. And none is talking about it.
Decisions are being taken and judgements are being passed, based only on social media allegations. It should have its legal conclusion.
The culprit must be punished, yes, share your stories on social media, but do follow up with proper legal complaint, to ensure justice is served.
The #MeToo and Time’s Up movements show that women can no longer be silenced. However, the lines must not get blurred. The media cacophony must not drown its relevance. Fight it, fight it right.