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MeToo Alyssa Milano

#MeToo: Thank You Alyssa Milano. Yet…

It has been 3 days since I first saw the #MeToo hashtag on FB. Ever since that is all we have been seeing across all social media: FB, Twitter, and Instagram. Everywhere.

Alysaa Milano touched a nerve. Like how.

I have a question though. I shall ask the same a little later in the post.

Inane #’s

Personally speaking, I have always been wary of most of the FB forwards that ask us to share a post on mental depression awareness, cancer awareness, and suicide awareness. Always wondered how if I share an inane post on cancer awareness is going to help a cancer patient?  But then that is a personal opinion.

This, however, was the first time when I instantly started to type #MeToo on my status. But stopped. Not once but a couple of times. The fact that 3 days later I am writing an entire post on it strengthens the fact that it is a topic that hurts. Pains. Infuriates. Way too many emotions rolled in one.

Strong Women?

It is absolutely disheartening to see so many of FB and twitter friends join in the campaign. Yes, it is distressing that not a single girl or woman, has not experienced a sexual advance, assault or harassment. The so-seemingly strong woman personalities and achievers have also #MeToo.  From a Revathi to a Lady Gaga. Each and everyone. Not at all surprising since in most cases they experienced it in the formative years. And maybe that is what made them become or put up an act of being strong.

 

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United By A #

A single tweet from an influencer like actress Alyssa Milano, intended to expose sexual harassment and assault has cascaded into a global movement.

All girls and women universally have been united by a single hashtag. To think not a single woman or girl child has been spared anywhere across the world is scary and disheartening at the same time. And sadly, not surprising if I may add so.

I for once completely agree that this movement has been phenomenal in letting the menfolk know how widespread sexual assault and harassment is.  Many have confessed it has been an ‘eye-opener’ for them.

However, reading notes and status updates of friends sharing the hashtag, got me back to the same question.

Why Can’t We Name Our Assaulters?

I have been dying to add the hashtag to my status update. Yet I stop. I feel it is incomplete. If today I  have a platform to let all know that, yes I was groped at, shamelessly molested, passed lewd remarks at, made cat-calls at, why should I also not name the person?

Barring 3 from my friend’s circle who actually did that, most have only copy and pasted the status. Why? Here are some reasons I think why. Please feel free to add those that come to your mind.

Nameless faces

How does one name that man?

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  • That tailor who on the pretext of taking measurements kept aside the rusty scissors on the table and slid his dirty hand into my shirt when I was barely 9?
  • That MTNL worker on way to the bus-stop who passed lewd remarks on my breasts when I was all of 12?
  • The colony scavenger if you please who whistled unashamedly at us each day as we avoided the road he would be on?
  • The Jindal Store’s errand boy who treated all females of the colony at par. Touching, brushing against a 7-year-old girl and a 55-year-old lady
  • The fruit-seller
  • That man who openly masturbated on his scooter in front of 20 girls at the Kamala Nehru College in broad daylight and all we did apart from giving him dirty looks for a while before looking away eventually!

It is not that we did not raise our voice or try and snub the person. We did. We all did.

That respectable looking senior hairdresser at the then very popular Meghna Beauty parlour. Who conveniently slid his hand towards the chest while giving a massage? Chest? Damn. Breasts. In a fully abuzz parlour! I was 22 then. Young. Courageous. Bwaah.

I distinctly remember how I stood up and challenged him in public, “Aur kahan andar tak ghusana hai haath Ghusao!” I reckon, how each and every one in that parlour suddenly became even busier, turning a completely blind eye and a deaf ear. I went to the owners. A husband-wife couple. The owner was known to my dad for ages. I was sure he would admonish the culprit. Not only did he not say a word to the old slippery hand but also tried to convince me it was a mistake. I still wish I had told him in an audible voice-“yeah when someone squeezes your balls you would know what a mistake is“. The wife. A woman if you please, gave me the dirtiest possible look as I was a threat to her clientele. Bad publicity.

The irony of the matter was that the owner himself was known to be a ‘rangeela’ person. Who made 2 am calls to young college girls frequenting the parlour. There. It just never ends.

Or that man behind the counter at Evergreen, who gently stroked my hand while handing me the ‘sweet box’?   When I said, “Pakadna hai to poora haath pakdo na”. He scooted. I still see him sometimes. An old shriveled man. Wonder if he regrets his actions at his age?

Faces With Names That We Cannot Name

This is a tough one even now.

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  • The mooh-bola bhai who simply tried his luck
  • The family friend who extended a harmless hug with the hand lingering for an extra minute along your body contour and moving down to the tailbone
  • The extended family member who took liberties unmentionable
  • That fearless neighbor whose balls should ideally have been chopped off then

 

 

Needless to add when I attempted to share the #MeToo, after reading others notes and statuses, it brought back memories that had been safely and secularly tucked into the sub-conscious mind years ago. The last 3 days, those known and unknown faces kept appearing in mind leaving me with strange emotions of rage, anger, remorse.

Why did we not bring the person to book immediately? Why did we not raise our voice and humiliate him in public? Why did we let that monster leave an indelible mark on our lives for no fault of ours?

It was fear then. It a regret now.

Thank you, Alyssa Milano. #MeToo has been a catharsis.

12 comments

  1. This post stuck a chord.. like you I have been wary of the fb forwards, for various reasons. In fact I think in over a decade I have hardly ever updated my status. But this was the first time, I started typing, then erasing, then typing, and repeat. Then came the emotions.. all the pent up rage, humiliation, fear, anger, hurt..

    Its a good question about naming.. , I honestly don’t know the answer. Like you I have at various times shouted back, spoken up. In 9 cases out of 10 that at least used to stop the groping or whatever.

    But, as you said, people at large would show a complete lack of support, studiously avoiding eye contact, or going so far as to blame you, to add insult to injury. And I think that was the part that always hurt, and still does, and what holds back the ‘naming’. The realization that there is high likelihood of further hurt to me, and low likelihood of even empathy. Respect to every person who has spoken up..

  2. Imagine Tess, it’s almost the same set of emotions, the same type of fears and apprehensions, that too ages after!

    Let us teach our children to speak out then and there. Let history not repeat itself.

    Let them not have to hashtag #MeToo

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