We are in an age when social media activism is louder than ever. Petitions are being shared for anything that anyone seems to find unjustified and wants to raise their voice against. The word feminism is being used and overused. With media adding far more effect and outreach, we should be thanking Facebook and Twitter.
While one cannot deny that such activism has worked as a catalyst to speed up the necessary uprising, the question arises if that’s enough. What’s the next step?
The increase in number of crimes being reported could be attributed to a rise in crime rate or the fact that people have become more aware and responsible about it. In the times of hashtags, one of the most famous ones recently, has been #MeToo. It started with actresses coming forward and accusing Hollywood producer, Harvey Weinstein, of sexual harassment and rape, which ultimately led to the downfall of his career. It triggered a bigger social movement where many others came forward from the industry sharing their own harrowing experiences and before anyone could fathom what was happening, this hashtag had taken over the internet. Women from every corner of the world started sharing their ‘Me too’ stories. The Times magazine made women, the person of the year, naming them ‘The Silence Breakers’.
What made it so important is the fact that thousands of women (and men) collectively raised their voice which was heard and acknowledged. The impact can be attributed to the sheer magnitude and united cry of human race. It became more than just a hashtag.
As a woman, I can totally relate to the ‘Me too’ stories. It reminded me of all the times I’ve been asked to keep shut because abuse or harassment wasn’t a big deal and that it happens. It reminded me of all those who warned me to raise my voice and the dangers associated. “Just forget what happened. Ignore the comments. Keep walking. Don’t respond back. You alone can’t do anything, can you? This is how the world is.” Like various other girls, I was also taught since childhood to blend into our system, to be polite and give in.
While we definitely need more Rose Mcgowan and other people standing up against any injustice, we also need silent bystanders to speak up. More of us need to stop acting indifferent. How worse the world needs to get before we would begin to act, or even then will we keep our eyes and mouth close? It’s not only about crimes against women but everything wrong that happens around us, however big or small. We often complain about the corruption in our society and suggest solutions to others. Shouldn’t we stop for a moment and ask ourselves, from where these people get the audacity to commit those crimes? We, the “good” ones, raise our hands to say the world is a bad place and nothing can be done. We assume that if it has not happened to me, I can’t do anything about it. Isn’t keeping quiet a threat to humanity as well?
Why does anyone have to think hundred times before fighting for their rights? Why a Puja (prayer) at a police station more important than the people lining up to register complaints (Yes, it happened!)? If that wasn’t enough, there’s always victim blaming. Why do people from Bihar themselves say that it’s the worst place to be and nothing can be done about it? Is it too late to hope that the world could be a better place where we could stand up for wrongdoings around us and bring change bit by bit?
Just by saying it’s not okay to eve-tease, you are saying it’s not okay to rape. Just by stressing it’s not okay to touch inappropriately, you are stressing that you won’t stand another Nirbhaya being murdered.
Call me naive or a dreamer but I would like to believe that raising a voice against injustice will make a difference. It’s not just about helping the victim but also about giving a clear message that it’s not okay and I am not going to close my eyes, yet again. As I said, this is not just about woman. This is about men, adolescents, young and old, poor and rich.
After #MeToo, we need a wave of #StandUp to break the silence.