Patriarchy is a well-played game, and I’m the winner of this game just like many other men. I’m saying this because it’s the patriarchy which has made me privileged and powerful – to the point that I can narrate one of my sisters’ story instead of her. Because patriarchy has put her at the bottom line, which automatically makes me the beneficiary. Patriarchy functions in a malign and severe way. But I believe every story (small or big) – needs to be told and encouraged to come forward; even if we feel ‘sick and tired’ of such incidents.
I have witnessed many incidents which can be considered as harassment and assault. I would like to narrate one such incident that I had witnessed a long time back, and I believe there are countless women out there who have faced such an experience and still face on a regular basis. They feel guilty because of someone else’s misconduct and obnoxiousness.
It was around five in the evening. I went to a field with one of my sisters. I was very young then and my sister was a few years older than me. While returning from the field, a guy passed an offensive and sexist comment about my sister. At that time I didn’t even know how to react. I was too young to take any action or even understand what was happening or why he said something like that. What was my sister’s fault?
He was trying to come closer to my sister, but it was daytime and there were people around, so he went away. What was even more strange to me was that throughout the way, she requested me not to tell anyone about what happened when we reach home. I wanted to narrate this to an elder in my family. I got scared when that guy commented and tried to come closer to my sister. Later, I understood why she was requesting me not to tell this to anyone. I think most of the women can relate to why she was asking me to keep quiet.
Even today, when everyone is using social media and sharing their stories. She might not be in a position like millions of others to share her story. She fears losing so many things and does not want anyone to blame and shame her. It is terrifying, horrible and painful to experience an inappropriate touch, molestation, or bullying, and to keep it a secret for years and sometimes the entire lifetime. And after all of this, we become offensive and defensive when someone comes forward and speaks out.
The women who are coming out and speaking up are doing a really great job. So, rather than pulling them down, encourage them and stand by them. Support those who don’t have access to social media platforms or other means of calling out their molesters. As a man, I may rarely experience or realise or even imagine what millions of women suffer on a regular basis, just because of the male privilege which I inherited through patriarchy.
If someone feels disgusted by a few names that have come out in the last few days, and the way everyone narrated their incidents – which made many the people’s blood boil, think of those incidents of harassment and molestation which are unnamed and unheard with the perpetrators unidentified. However, the most ironical thing is that many abusers are still respected, honoured, supported, protected, and appreciated. I know there are people out there who might get offended while reading this, but let me tell you, it’s not that we don’t know about them, it’s not about understanding; it’s about our choice to remain silent.
So, nothing’s wrong if we don’t want to realise our biases; because we were raised not to. Some of us might get saddened to see the ‘good guys’ we liked being called out and accused of sexual misconduct or harassment. But labelling someone as a ‘good guy’ itself somehow gives that person ‘a safer zone’ – where that person could use their privilege to get away with inappropriate behaviour. We all know why it happens. So, stop giving license to the ‘good guys’ to harass and assault someone – by not recognising the harasser hidden beneath that ‘good guy’ veneer.
Patriarchy isn’t a recent phenomenon; it’s a historical phenomenon which has been passed on to generation after generation. Everyone labelled as ‘good guys’ or ‘bad guys’ are products of the same patriarchal society. Calling out their obnoxious and toxic masculine behaviour is just a new progressive move towards a better society and it will also give way to the much-needed discussion around masculinity, gender stereotypes, and how to raise the young boys to make them better human beings. MeToo is a revolutionary movement of our time, and we must ensure it succeeds.
Rather than being defensive or offensive, we must be thankful to all those women who are coming out and speaking up. It will also help other survivors to come out, speak the truth, and relieve themselves of the burden of unhealed pain. It will also help them in getting rid someone else’s guilt and it will also help men to learn from this movement and evolve as decent human beings. These women are doing what our government and the judiciary have failed to do. If you are not ready to be a part of the solution, then don’t be a part of the problem either.
This movement is a signal for us to rethink, reimagine, reconstruct ourselves, and to question and challenge all the institutions and individuals which try to normalise harassment, assault, oppression, domination, and violence. It’s not a gender war; it’s a significant attempt to create gender-equal, violence-free and humane society. The impact of this movement is evident. Many famous personalities have stepped down and resigned from their jobs and lost their long earned respect and dignity within a short span of time. These men are quitting not because of any legal action or pressure, but because they accepted or were made to admit that whatever they did was utterly wrong. They must be held accountable for their obnoxious behaviour. It’s not a question of popularity or defamation. It’s about basic human decency. Let’s learn something out of it and be a part of the change.