Kirthi Jayakumar asks, “Yes, #MeToo. What Next?”

Aerocity hotel executive molested

I woke up this morning to a slew of status messages on Facebook with the hashtag “#MeToo.” It didn’t take me long to decipher that this was a global drive to drive home the point that more women than we can count have faced sexual violence in some form or the other.

I saw close friends asking their friends to consider stepping up to talk. I saw the hashtag being accompanied by some painful truths and stories from different people, and it definitely jolted me.

Being a survivor of sexual abuse whose memories and trauma I am still, on some occasions, finding myself horribly encumbered by.

But I still felt uncomfortable about just saying #MeToo.

I see the point, I genuinely do. I fully respect and admire all the women who have stepped up to say #MeToo because in a world that allows perpetrators of such crimes to thrive with the help of their greatest ally, silence, speaking up is an act of resistance. And it takes every last dreg of courage you have in your sinews to put your history, your narrative, your pain and your trauma into words.

But I still felt uncomfortable about just saying #MeToo.

Also Read: When We Asked Feminist Men About #MeToo and Why we Needed it.

And I’ll tell you why.

I think the world is now beyond the scope of “starting conversations” and “talking” about sexual violence. Everyone knows it’s happening. Everyone knows a minimum of a dozen people in their lives who’ve faced it.

The idea of #MeToo makes me feel like we’re throwing the onus on the survivor (again) to fight erasure, and again, adding to the noise but not to the action.

Don’t we already know that there are enough instances of Gender-Based Violence / Violence Against Women / Sexual Violence / Sexualized Violence?

Why not do something to address it? Instead of a social media tag of “#MeToo” what if we actually mobilized on the ground and did a Finland Styled strikeout, or what if we forced the security sector system to become gender sensitive and respond to a survivor’s needs better? Tokenism and armchair work is turning into a mainstream way to assuage a conscience and several of us are not even seeking to do more than this. It’s like what those comedians said in response to what happened at High Spirits. “Statements of Condemnation” But what does that do if they still buy in on practices / engage with agencies that prop misogyny?

Gender-based violence, sexual violence and sexualized violence are universal and it’s embarrassing that it is so. It’s a pockmark on humanity that we have not evolved enough to understand that patriarchy is structural violence, and that a large part of the global garbage we feed into constantly reasserts this agenda.

Before you embrace the hashtag and ride this tide, pause for a moment and think:

Let’s not all let it be another badge that is serving a larger agenda of preventing survivor erasure by throwing the onus on the survivor. Let’s do something about it. It’s embarrassing to the world that nearly every woman has faced sexual violence. It’s doubly embarrassing that we’re all stuck in this suspended continuum of “let’s start a conversation.” Conversations have long since started. Let’s get a move on and turn it into action. We don’t all have to do great, grand things in the name of taking action: however small, even if it is unfollowing a misogynist on social media or changing brands for a product from one that advertises with sexual objectification, it is an act of resistance.

Don’t stop with a hashtag. DON’T.

Kirthi Jayakumar is the founder of The Red Dot Foundation. The views expressed in the column are author’s own.

Also Read: Lack of Access Led to Exclusion of Women from STEM: Kirthi Jayakumar