In the wake of accusations on Harvey Weinstein of sexual harassment, abuse and rape, by as many as forty actresses, #MeToo social media campaign has gained momentum in the past couple of days throughout the world, including India. With 12 million posts and counting, women – and somewhat men- from all walks of life and situations are using the hashtag to share their experiences and express support and solidarity towards the movement.
But where did it all begin?
What was a candid tweet by actress Alyssa Milano, is now a social media campaign against sexual harassment and rape. Everyone, from celebrities to masses have used the hashtag to raise their voice against sexual violence. The seriousness of the matter is visible by the bombardment of #MeToo posts on everybody’s Facebook timeline and Twitter profiles.
The campaign has managed to create awareness that sexual harassment and rape doesn’t happen to ‘others’ but is a part and parcel of life of almost every other woman they interact to on a daily basis. For every woman sharing her personal story, ranging from eve teasing to child molestation, the viral hashtag has also managed to create a sense of sisterhood across socio-economic, political and cultural differences.
In India, particularly, the #MeToo campaign has reinstated the need for an immediate action against sexual violence that is almost casually practiced in day-to-day lives. From openly groping young girls and women, eve teasing and harassment on streets, to family members molesting young children, the experiences shared by women, bring to limelight the pattern of sexual violence.
It reiterates that rapists, abusers and molesters aren’t some mythical ‘monsters’ in the dark but men amongst us. They are relatives, office colleagues, friends and sometimes, even parents. Most importantly, it has managed to create a safe haven for women to discuss and support one another. It’s also amazing, how all these women have, without worrying about their families being on social media platforms, spoken up.
However, the very aspects that give power to the campaign are the very parts that may prove to be it’s downfall. For one, the campaign is not an organised movement and much like any other social media movement, is like a burst of light before fading to oblivion.
Second, the campaign is general in it’s appeal and thus, paradoxically, fails to account for social and cultural differences on caste and class basis. Also, it being limited to internet, it distances itself from a large community that cannot afford the expenses of literacy, smartphones and the internet.
For all it’s limitations, #MeToo is a powerful campaign that seems to show no sign of stopping, inspite of gaining popularity midst the festive season in India. For what it leads to, only time shall tell.