#ME_TOO in India Is Just a Tip of an Iceberg and It Has Shaken the Patriarchy to Its Core
Nigam Shalu (2018) #Me_Too in India is Just a Tip of an Iceberg and It Has Shaken the Patriarchy to its Core, In #Me_Too: A Blow to Patriarchy Edited by Binu Mathew People's Book Shop, Maharashtra India
10 Pages Posted: 14 Nov 2018 Last revised: 15 Feb 2019
Date Written: October 23, 2018
India is witnessing the crucial change where a few women courageously came out with their experience of sexual harassment they have faced at their work place and shared with the hashtag #MeToo on the social media. Though, their number is small, yet the movement is reaching and spreading out. Still, what is being shared is just the tip of iceberg. There are many hidden untold stories of violence that women in male-dominated societies face day in day out. Yet, these few narratives which came out from the hidden corners have shaken the patriarchy to its core.
The response of male dominated state as well as society reveals that the power dynamics continue to operate while the politics of victim blaming and under-positioning women survivors of violence remain, yet, one of the fall out of the MeToo movement is that the women’s concerns are making space in the prevailing autocratic, authoritarian and tyrannical environment. This movement is crucial because of its timing. This is a period when the fundamentalist state and the fascist majoritarian society, both are acting to further oppress women. Crime against women is on increase and the politics behind rapes that took place in Kathua, Unnao, Mandsaur and other places are reversing the gains made in the field of gender equality or empowerment. The conflict between the progressive and liberal ideas with that of regressive patriarchal values is making adverse impact on the rights of women. This is evident in the matter relating to women’s entry into the Sabrimala temple where despite of the Supreme Court verdict to allow the females of any age to enter the place of worship, protestors including priests are not allowing women to go inside the temple. The state seemingly is surrendering before the powerful patriarchal forces.
Whether the Sabrimala temple entry issue or the concerns relating to MeToo movement, the bureaucratic as well as the legal system is failing to provide space to women to assert their rights or to fight against the patriarchal forces. In the current regressive environment it is significant that women’s agency and choices find space and the movement such as MeToo facilitate such informal support system and provide a platform where women’s voices could be raised. It is different from the top-down campaigns initiated by the State and aims to change men’s behaviour rather than expecting women to learn to deal with violence committed by men. Such movements have potential to change the notion of sex, power and consent in a male-dominated society. MeToo is about women making space in a toxic male-dominated work environment. The need is to expand and strengthen this movement further.
Keywords: Me Too, India, Violence Against Women, Patriarchy, Gender Equality, Workplace
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