When I woke up to the #MeToo hashtag, my first reaction was to type out a status with the tag. But after going back and forth a bit, I decided not to tag along.
I don’t think sexual assault or sexual harassment or even sexual violence need tags or even that they need victims of these assaults to unite. They literally don’t. I was reading the book ‘The Spy’ by Paulo Coelho few days back and in that when Mata Hari confessed how she had been assaulted by the headmaster and how it took sometime to realise that he had assaulted other girls too, it did seem that unity and talking about it in open did matter. However, that’s the case of one woman who was thought to be ahead of her times or perhaps that’s just a reflection of how the society is and how the society has been towards women by and large.
Assaults that happen within homes, within extended families, within friends, within protected boundaries of schools, colleges and universities, don’t necessarily make or break the relations. Just that ‘be careful’ and ‘be watchful’ are added to the victims vocabulary. A long list of ‘don’t’s’ follow soon. Who to mingle with, who to talk to, who to confide in, and more importantly who to trust, then become questions of paramount importance thus paving way to a greater impact on the human mind.
In this entire whirlpool of thoughts, feelings and emotions, somewhere thinking about your own self takes the front seat and everyone else follow; thus marking empathy as a long distant cousin who is perhaps better if avoided at all costs. Sympathy takes a seat in the front row. Rightfully so because it’s this sympathy that the same individual has received when she or he was a victim of someone’s ego, of someone’s vulnerability or fell prey to someone’s power show. And hence, when it was his or her time, sympathy is what he or she could rightfully provide.
Rising up for causes, tagging along the existing ones, has always left behind a large proportion of individuals who have forgotten what it feels like to be cared for. They surely know and appalaud the courage of those that choose to relive the dark moments or spots from their lives; but they don’t necessarily know the value of empathy and the importance of their own voice because they have been left in isolation.
Until of course, like that headmaster of Mata Hari’s school, or like Harvey Weinstein, or like some person A or B or X, we are able to tag the name along to the suffering, I don’t see much point in uniting saying ‘Me Too’ just to add to the fact that sexual assaults happen all the time, all around us, to a majority of us.
If this has to stop, we need to know the individuals on the other side. The victims side of the story has been spoken about, written about and has been in the media for long. The list of Don’ts have significantly increased over the years. We must be doing something wrong!
Perhaps we don’t need to unite and raise our voices to say ‘yes! I have been sexually assaulted or harassed’ .. Perhaps we need to unite and say ‘this man or woman has assaulted me or has harassed me’ .. Whoever it is! Even if it’s in your own family, that’s what we need to unite against .. Empathy can only be rebuilt if we know the face of who are fighting against.
We can’t be fighting against the entire human race! There must be an abundance of goodness otherwise how is it that we wake up everyday in hope and in love?!