• Pallavi Rao

#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, cancer, 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 had a

#MeToo moment. 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.

United By A #MeToo

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?

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, and brushing against a 7-year-old girl and a 55-year-old lady alike.

The fruit-seller, who could never hand over the polythene bag without his slithery hand touching us from the elbow to the wrist.

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 was look away embarrassed ourselves!

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 complete 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, 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. He was known to make 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?

And then there are faces with names we cannot even name. And that you know is a tough one.

●   The muh-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 securely tucked into the subconscious 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.

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