Add a serious chapter to this movement of ''WOMENCIPATION''
Fearing being `METOO-ED’, I now don’t use `dear’ to address any female I talk to or write to. Teachers, students, readers, writers, friends or rank strangers – I address them as they are, not as I see them. Gone is the time when endearment was a dignified way of showing love to youngers, respect to elders. Now it’s considered suggestive – and thereby punishable. Though you mean grace, it can earn you disgrace. But my caution is post-dated. Even if I watch my words, what about the shots fired earlier. They can still fire back on me. This is a crime where no pardon, a sin where no atonement, can do. I can be tried for the misdeed that predates the caution. This new `offence’ – like a Pay Commission – comes with a retrospective effect. Even if I wash my pen (now called keyboard) or my mouth (still called mouth), arrears can come calling anytime. No matter whoever you are (or whoever the hell you are) and how much you treat the female folk with respect, this METOO ghost will haunt you. It doesn’t see the intent, the nuance, the situation. Like love, it’s blind.
What a mockery we have made of this movement. I don’t dismiss the seriousness of the cause. I can’t summarily reject the harassment cases as false. But the way this whole matter is being handled renders it not just hollow, but hilarious. This way even the tragedies slip into comedies. Something that should have given us pain, gives us amusement. This way you can’t gain respect, you only lose it. This way you are making workplaces even more difficult for women. Their safety never banks of other’s vulnerability.
Don’t spare those who treat women as fun machines but see the shades of grey. This random, black and white handling of the issue is destroying careers, families, relations, societies and lives. Imagine someone’s life getting devastated by a single false, vague and wild allegation which can neither be proved nor disproved. This is gender terror we are falling into. It has eaten away our moral sense and our common sense too. Genuine cases of injustice are being blown away by a storm of malice, falsehood and blackmail.
A word to the forerunners of this movement. If you are really serious in empowering your fellow women, give them rights. Right to earn, right to learn, right to own and right to possess. And there are ways to do so. Begin at the beginning. Inequality does not only lie in the emotional treatment we mete out to children. Emotions can’t be weighed, but the real emotion is the care, the justice we treat them with. Inequality lies in the injustice we do to them. Fight for rights. Remember, possession is power. You disempower a woman by dispossessing her. Restore her the right of being a dispenser. Let her own what she earns or inherits. That is where the movement will gain ground, gain seriousness. Make disinheritance a social offence. Even after so much of emancipation where sons and daughters, brothers and sisters are treated equally, still our society is steeped in a patriarchy of exploitation.
Politics apart, the only remarkable thing that Mehbooba Mufti did as chief minister was to exempt women of the property tax thereby paving way for women empowerment. Don’t support her politics, but support this move. Take it a notch ahead. Empower daughters, sisters, wives, mothers along-with sons, brothers, husbands and fathers. Don’t pit them against each other, but don’t let them rob each other. That is a battle of rights which will clean our society of male tyranny. Such cases will have a base, not these imaginative stories based on once-upon-a-time-I-was-molested mockery.
If you throw a question how many have been robbed of their right to own and possess, walls will echo ME TOO.