The #MeToo campaign is important because the deck was always been loaded against women
The #MeToo campaign has ripped the fig leaf off the ugly preying that women across the world have been subjected to for far too long. The momentum, some might argue, is already flagging, but the ripples remain and occasional tsunamis will keep rising. Why? Because this is an important conversation to have.
While sexual assault and abuse are clearly criminal offences, the current campaign seeks to address not just the obvious instances of such abuse but also the more complicated situations and assaults in which centuries of internalizing convinces even the victims that they might have hinted consent or led the perpetrator on. But now that even such grey zones have been more clearly defined, and a clearer understanding established about what constitutes abuse, why consent in necessary, and most importantly, that even the Mighty will fall if they are called out, the serial abusers, who have traditionally been protected by their positions or social and financial standing, have much to fear. They now stare at a situation where they could not only lose their “reputation” but also the positions which brought them the courage and entitlement to force themselves on women. The #MeToo campaign was desperately needed because there is a dangerous regression underway across the world and misogyny and patriarchy are on the ascendant. The society at large needs to thank the women who started the process of calling out their pigs and forcing people to address the problem and confronting the madness manifesting in men in positions of power, influence and privilege.
This was one of the reasons why the Trump victory in USA was so deplorable. Given the American dominance of mass media, even if one does not understand the American electoral processes, the elections there are closely followed. When a man who brags about grabbing women by their pussies gets elected President of the US of A, every entitled male chauvinist pig out their gains strength and mutates into an even uglier version of himself. And not just in USA, because the US elections tend to set off a trend. So, while the eight years before Trump were about an inspirational pursuit of change and inclusiveness, now it is about regression and paranoia. When a person with the obnoxious sexism of The Donald manages to win, apart from imperiling the rights of all the women in USA, he also delivers the packaging within which disgusting worldviews and offensive sexism can not only be packaged and peddled, but also consumed without guilt. Invoke nationalism, paint a threat to an old/ imagine way of life and anything, no matter how false or patently disagreeable, can be circulated and sold. Think Padmaavat here. The movie, an obnoxiously jingoistic celebration of stereotyping and misogyny gets protested by the most stereotypically misogynist of groups for being, let’s say, too liberal and permissive. The alleged distortions and the claimed ode to Rajput valour and womanhood - everything ended up just being in head. But noise was made and noise was heard. And when the sham – of the movie – was called out for the patriarchy it celebrated, the club slapped down hard. That is what we have become and that is what we needed to be saved from, which is why #MeToo is important.
Once the language of insular patriarchy becomes commonplace, there will be enough of us with regressive streaks to lend our shoulders to it and lower the bar for the new normal. It goes without saying that women’s rights, even the basic ones which will secure them equality, have been compromised and sabotaged so effectively over the centuries that we have internalized the denigration to such an extent that every step forward has to be struggle, battled for, argued and defended. It was already an uphill battle until regression received its new packaging in traditions and identity politics. When the laws refuse to see women as equals, social conduct cannot be expected to do any better than feed them to sexual predators and look away. But #MeToo is forcing us to notice how widespread this malaise has become, how too many have been traumatized. May be now we can effect some change…