By Sabrina Almeida
As daily news unearths more victims of sexual harassment and social media outrage threatens to engulf us all, I must confess that I’ve completely tuned out. With due respect to all the ‘genuine’ victims, I just can’t take any more of this. From news headlines to social media posts—it’s an assault of a different nature and there’s no escape. I can’t help but feel that many who have not yet spoken out never will because they just want it all to go away. Even worse is the position of innocent men who are now tarnished with the same brush. It’s the worst time to be a man!
The predatory sexual behavior exhibited by some men (not all, we must clarify) is not an earth-shattering revelation… be it Hollywood, Bollywood or any other cinematic area. I’m not condoning it, just presenting a few facts. After all, where did the term “casting couch” originate from? Both modelling and acting had this dubious distinction in the time of our grandmothers and such practices continue till date we are now informed. And mind you while some in Bollywood aired their grievances, nobody has put forth any names. ???!!!
The fact that sexual impropriety and violence has crossed all professional boundaries as well as personal relationships is not news either. I am surprised we haven’t had more people come forward. Perhaps they didn’t see the point of it.
However, the current barrage of revelations has me worried about the outcome and future victims—both men and women. Desensitization and trivialization being top concerns. From Jian Ghomeshi to Bill Cosby, Harvey Weinstein, Kevin Spacey and more names that will no doubt surface… I’m afraid that in the end we will all conclude what we always knew—it happens. Nothing more.
Many men are furious about the public shaming and immediate presumption of guilt. Wronged women claim there is no other way. The perpetrators must feel some of the shame that their victims experienced. Their hope—making poster boys of the big names will put an end to the victimization of women.
I’m afraid it won’t. For every woman that speaks out, there are hundreds closely guarding this terrible secret.
Men have no right to do this to us… but does that mean we can do this to ourselves? How and when did women decide they had to suffer this monstrous atrocity to get ahead professionally. Is that not empowering the offender and perpetuating the problem? Are they not partly responsible for other victims too, then!
As one male friend asked why the double standard? Some women allowed themselves to be assaulted repeatedly for the sake of career but now want to destroy that of their so-called attackers. Contrary to expectations of contrition not just from the accused but all males, men are questioning if women might have been complicit in repeat instances but are now crying foul once again for their own gain.
The traditional notion that women are vulnerable and need protection seems to account for the guilty verdict that society immediately hands out to men in such cases. Another double standard at a time when women claim that they are equal to men. It’s not okay to switch between the roles of ‘wonder woman’ and ‘damsel in distress’ at will.
Above all we must refrain from classifying every pass or unwanted attention that comes our way as sexual harassment. It trivializes the real problem and is unfair to the real victims.
No doubt everybody has different experiences and perceptions of sexual harassment, but we must think logically and carefully before being caught up in the moment and saying #MeToo. – CINEWS