Yes, it’s the anniversary of the #MeToo movement in India and though tales of sexual oppression have dominated public discourse, the questions over their veracity have not. Why have the women not spoken up at the time of transgression? Why are they doing so now? Were these alleged encounters of misbehaviour actually consensual relations which later turned sour and, therefore, fell in a grey area? Were all the women genuine or were they hitting back? No attempt has been made to hear them out or encourage them to speak up, so what we hear are disparate voices floating about in social media rather than a cohesive, coagulated agenda that forces everyone to sit up and take notice. Be it media or film personalities, the confessions are pouring in though sexual aggression as powerplay is being practised in every workspace where both accused and victim are assumed to be informed, empowered and educated.
But what many do not get is this. Affected women do not open up because the trauma freezes them into a sense of shame that they would rather manage with silence than risk being circled out in red. Old ghosts anybody? Most working women are ghosting their dark corners. Nobody is doubting that some women have voluntarily crossed the line, for their sensual and material gratification, which when denied have been avenged. But why did they make that choice easily in the first place? Because the entitlement of men and their right to indulge in powerplay by preying on the vulnerable young intern or fresher had been normalised over the years as a negotiating tool. Now that glass barriers have been broken and women have found the confidence to exist in the workspace on their terms, as equals and as gender-neutral talent, the speak-outs have grabbed the microphone. Surprisingly though, the political fraternity, which is not immune to the cascading effect, is maintaining a studied silence. Except for Rajasthan Congress president Sachin Pilot, the rest are still being, for want of a better word, politically incorrect. But #MeToo needs traction in India to declare that feudatory structures and practices are terribly out of date and they need to be demolished to set a new template.