The #MeToo movement has made a hard landing in India and for scores of men in positions of authority, it’s now time to reap the whirlwind. From artistes, movie makers, thinkers, social influencers, editors to ministers, the might of #MeToo is turning out to be unsparing and inexorable.
The subjugation and exploitation of women through misogyny and sexual power play over the centuries has created an unfathomably deep core pressure of female outrage and fury that was simply waiting for a hair trigger to erupt. The birth of social media fulfilled this want. A juggernaut in search of justice, the #MeToo movement is sans borders as India is realising with the sound of pedestals crashing to the ground now filling the air. In the last week alone, a host of male luminaries from different fields have bitten the dust. From cinema greats such as actor Nana Patekar to MJ Akbar, an erstwhile media legend and now minister, #MeTo has made sure that impunity goes abegging as does immunity granted by fame and power. Both these men built their reputation through their sheer brilliance of talent and occupied space in the public consciousness as men whom history would treat with extra admiration and respect. But the insuperable counter-force of #MeToo may well rewrite their role in history with a permanently foul -smelling ink. And herein, ultimately, lies its power, to peel back the layers of time and reveal the fetid, festering alt-truths about these men of power who strut the stage with heroic flair and seek legions of admirers by dint of their brilliance. And ut just behind the blinding light of that brilliance lies a darkness dank with sordid deeds.
For India, this is a deeply painful moment. The agony and humiliation of the women who lived through the violation of their dignity and right to self-determination is searing to watch and read. It flays open, all over again, the never-healing scar tissue of female exploitation. It also presents the country, afresh, with the seemingly intractable challenge of how to make gender equality the bedrock of societal progress.
And amid these long-range challenges lies an immediate one: address the siege of one of its ministers. The peculiar silence of the BJP government in face of the shocking accusations against MJ Akbar, minister of state for external affairs, is not doing it any favours. The sooner it confronts the issue, the better for its own image and that of its besieged minister.
The reality of#MeToo is that it is as much a political catalyst as it is a tool for women empowerment and catharsis. Missing its true import could be self-destructive as many examples on the other side of the Indian Ocean have proved.