THERE are no lights, no camera, but the real ‘action’ only starts then. The mask of the ‘sanskari’ father slips off and he comes out with all his venomous ‘glory’. It is not just about the mask slipping off the ‘sanskari’ father, many more wolves lurking under sheep’s skin are getting exposed, thanks to the ‘me too’ movement. Err, some are calling it a movement, others a revolution; whatever it is, it is certainly a blow at the patriarchal values prevalent in the society.
Till now, the ‘me too’ movement has exposed the faces of those who have been working under the arc lights. It has exposed the saber tooth of the sweet smiling predators who hog the limelight among the public with a ‘cultivated image’. A middle class movement it might be, but it has yet again made one thing clear – when it comes to exploitation, along with class differences, gender too matters.
Many women, who were bearing the exploitation behind their thickly layered make-up, have peeled these layers to show us the tears that lie behind. Alas, as we come to know, they are paying a cost for the ‘glamourous’ life. Unwilling to bear it anymore, they have come out with the ordeals they were forced to undergo in carrying on with their professions. Next time, when you are gazing at the navel, or the cleavage on the celluloid, don’t blame the ‘shameless women’. Blame it on yourself, for gazing and more than that, remember of that certain ‘krantiveer’. That ‘krantiveer’, who must have forced her to push that saree down by few inches, cut the blouse few notches down and made her do all those twerks and lewd moves. Not just for your titillation, but for his too. Robbing you of your conscience and money, by moving his lecherous hands, he robbed the women of their respect, individuality and dignity. No more now, shout these women and have started ripping those masks. As we are finding out, these emperors neither have clothes nor shame. These women hence are not mere survivors, they are also fighters.
A man can be named ‘great’; poor parents, might have thought he would become great because of his good deeds. Little would they expect that he would become ‘great’ from his misdeeds. Yes, he can be a ‘great’ journalist, ‘great’ politician, rewarded with ‘great’ responsibilities and assignments. But now as all the ink written by him on those papers is drying up, we are finding blood and tears of dozens of women. Now we come to see what is hidden between those lines – harassment and exploitation of a serial sexual predator. The liability around his neck became so ‘great’ that he was forced to quit his seat of power. Not before the powers that be were struck hard by the words of those women, who he harassed, never expecting them to assert their power. Salute these brave women for tearing down the halo of this ‘great’ man and making him stand for what he really is.
The ‘gods’, ‘demi-gods’ and ‘great’ men are brought down from the pantheons on which they were majestically standing till now. But behind every ‘god’, ‘demi-god’ and ‘great’ man, there are lurking hundreds and thousands of ‘common’ men, who, if not ‘inspired’, are motivated by the same lecherous ideology. These mice, hiding behind the rats, should also be exposed and caged for the society to be cleansed of the rut that has engulfed it for eons together.
And aren’t these mice, if left alone, dangerous enough to cause plague in the society? They are everywhere around us. They might be within the family. They are those husbands who rape their wives, under the garb of marriage. They are those father-in-laws, fathers, uncles, brother-in-laws, brothers and whatever damn relation they claim and make us consider them to be ‘family’, only to find their real motive – to exercise authority in the name of the ‘relation’ and exploit us to satisfy their lust. They need to be exposed. All the women, who were suffering silently from such ‘relatives’, should be empowered sufficiently to expose them.
Then there are all those friends, teachers, guardians, attenders, drivers, electricians, cleaners and every other Tom, Dick and Harry, whom we encounter(ed) in our schools and colleges. They speak sweet to us, all the while straining to see what lies underneath our shirts or skirts. Often they move their hands in such a way that brings a lecherous smile to their face and a tear to our eyes. Ah, they always have an excuse that it was an ‘accident’. Our blood boils on all such accidents. These accident-prone men need some urgent repairing. It is time for them to be exposed and sent to the correct ‘workshop’, where they can be properly repaired. Let all our daughters and sisters be instilled with such courage that they can show the ‘proper place’ to all those ‘wandering’ eyes and hands.
Next come our colleagues and co-passengers. Those who lay their hands on our thighs, hips, breasts and all over, with every jerk of the car, bus, train or whatever mode of transport it might be. They sit or stand so close – so close that we can smell their paan, cigarette, gutka and whatever bloody thing that goes into their mouth. They stand close, ‘enjoying’ every moment. These jerks are always ready with the stock answer: the driver is to blame, the roads are to blame, the brakes are to be blamed. They are the quintessential ‘maryada purush’. These ‘maryada purush’ have to be unmasked and shown their ‘proper place’ to stand.
Then there are ‘peeping toms’ and ‘brushing bosses’. In the workplace, they think that they not only own the space and our labour, but also our bodies. When they call us for meetings, briefings, cafeterias, we know their real intentions. When they pretend to look into our monitors and guide us in our work, we know where they intend to look. When they are handing over papers, we know what their hands intend to do.
Many of us work as domestic servants, construction workers, nurses and teachers. Need we tell, where the eyes of the husband of the house pry? Nor we need to tell how he remains stuck to the place, when we bend to sweep the floor, pick up things lying on the floor, his hands dangling ‘carelessly’, but not without intentions. It is these leeches that need to be brought out and put to dry under the sun.
Now comes the turn of those absolute jerks and perverts. Those are shameless creatures who cannot look at women except as an object of lust. These are the kind who masturbate openly in a bus, train or in an office. There are monsters who rape months old babies and also a hundred year old woman (if you don’t believe, it means you are not following the news). These are monsters moving in the garb of humans. They should never be allowed to escape.
As a first step, naming and shaming all such scum existing around us is necessary, but that is not sufficient. The reasons why such a scum is being produced needs to be prodded and understood. Men often consider women as their ‘entitlement’, an ‘object’, a ‘weakling’ and an ‘inferior’ person. Many among men also think that they are the epitome of ‘power’ and exist to be ‘serviced’. While class divisions force everybody to work in service of capital, gender divisions also ensure women’s servitude to men. These concepts are interlinked and should be fought to be changed.
While as women who are facing sexual harassment and exploitation, we should be truly concerned about this scum in our society, we should also be concerned about the good too. The good is, there is a growing realisation among sections of men about gender equality. These sections should be brought from the realm of ‘realisation’ to the realm of ‘action’. After all, what good is realisation, if it is not matched with action! What is needed now is not sympathy, but ACTION.
What we are seeing in the name of ‘me too’ is an open expression of the existing latent but seething anger. This needs to be strengthened by joining our hands in not only naming and shaming, but also attacking the pillars of patriarchy. It is high time that, wherever they exist – films, art, culture, politics, etc., and etc., – harassers, exploiters, lecherous scum bags of the society should be brought down from their high pedestal. Neither the tiger nor the mosquito should be allowed to escape.
It is now time for action. ACTION.