The enormity of the #MeToo campaign has been overwhelmingly empowering for many women, who found strength in coming forth with their stories about unwanted sexual advances and harassment.
Actor Richa Chadha had a story of her own and some perfectly legitimate points about the ancient gender roles of our country. She wrote this stirring post, and we can't help but nod our heads in agreement.
She starts with how widespread the epidemic is, to the extent that it doesn't even seem like a hyperbole that every woman she knew had faced harassment in some form:
For a country where violence against the girl child starts in the womb, I am surprised at the number of people surprised at the enormity of the #MeToo campaign. Unless you have been in hibernation in the Himalayan caves for the past millennium, there’s no way you would not know that sexual assault- verbal or visual, and gender violence are the rites of passage for the average Indian girl.
She talks about how the society has conveniently put the onus of a woman's dignity in her vagina, without ever questioning the character of the men carrying out the harassment or assault:
As children, we learn the ‘good and bad touch’ with first-hand experience unfortunately and not through a sex-education class. Sex education is a luxury in a country where education itself is a privilege. The disparity between the education, health and mortality ratio between men and women is huge.
Rape is defined as ‘izzat lootna’ in Hindustani, or robbing one’s dignity. In whatever form one is assaulted, what do you think happens when prejudice like this exists in society - does it get easier or more difficult to report a gender crime?
She described why she looks forward to the Navratras each year, and what makes it such a distinctive celebration.
The navratras are a special time in the culture of our great country. Navratras also bring with them, the glorious garba in Gujarat and the Durga Pujo in Bengal. It is a sacred time when the Goddess is worshipped all over the country, in myriad forms and traditions. The navratras make me feel proud of belonging to a tradition that acknowledges, reveres, worships and in fact CELEBRATES the feminine. I was raised to feel equal, even special on some days. Then I grew up.
For the uninitiated, Chadha asked everyone to stay away from simplistic deductions. Like blaming Bollywood for the spike in crime or troll her by saying that she was writing this for publicity ahead of her upcoming film:
Don’t blame ‘Bollywood’. That is too simplistic a deduction. In the Mahabharata, Draupadi was traded as property in gambling and Goddess Sita was abducted by another man in the Ramayana, (assuming you think of mythology and history in the same way), which was before the advent of films. ‘Bollywood’ hasn't invented rape, torture, stalking and assault. Don't say I have a film releasing in a week, hence this is for publicity. The people this blog will resonate with are hardly a first-day-first-show kind.
She also stated that while she understood #NotAllMen were the problem, and there were anomalies on both sides - it was a fact that nearly every woman was a victim of sexual harassment or assault in one way or another. And that we all have to work towards the solution:
I agree with #NOTALLMEN. Surely, not all men are the problem here, many are part of the solution. That’s what keeps the world going. There are patriarchal women that participate in their own subjugation and feminist men who point it out. Not all men, but #ALLWOMEN I know have experienced gender violence or molestation one way or another. This shouldn’t it be the only way of life women know. How are you not embarrassed?
She surely gets into the complexities of the issue. And we have to acknowledge the nuance with which she puts forth her points. We need to self-reflect.