Why we’re witnessing a ‘mini-revolution’ of women against sexual abuse
Bengaluru, Oct 17: A few things have definitely changed in the last couple of days, although mostly in the sphere of social media--being initiated by educated women having access to a computer or a laptop or a smartphone and internet connectivity--nonetheless they are welcoming ones where victims of sexual harassment or assault or day today sexism from across the world are coming out in the open to speak out about their traumatic experiences.
It all started after New York Times recently published an investigative report on Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein, where a bevy of women, including Hollywood big names like Angelina Jolie and Gwyneth Paltrow, narrated in details how they were raped, sexually assaulted and intimidated by the movie mogul over the years.
Before Weinstein many more powerful men, including another Hollywood well-known name Billy Cosby, were charged by several women, including minors, of raping and assaulting them, but apart from usual condemnation regarding such horrific sexual misconducts by arrogant men drunk with power, very little protest can be seen in a social environment where usually people prefer to remain silent on issues related to sexual harassment or assault.
Finally, the great wall of silence surrounding sexual misconducts commitment by powerful men against gullible women (at times men too) has been shaken a bit.
On Friday, we saw women across the world boycotting social media giant, Twitter, for a day to protest against online abuse (mostly sexual slurs and character assassination of female users) and intimidation by trending the hashtag, #WomenBoycottTwitter.
From America to India, women tweeted why they were staying out from Twitter for a day on Friday, which otherwise is a brilliant platform to air views, share information and initiate debate on social and political issues.
The protest was against patriarchal approach (something which has spilled over from our real world to the virtual domain) tinged with malicious intention to silence and maim women, with a view, who regularly face unimaginable hate and harassment (often threats of rape) because of their gender on social media.
In response to the temporary suspension of actress Rose McGowan from Twitter (the company stated that the action was taken as the actress violated its service terms), users of the micro-blogging site started the hashtag #WomenBoycottTwitter to stand in solidarity with McGowan and boycotted the social media platform. The US actress McGowan has also publicly accused Weinstein of raping her.
Thus on Friday, women globally (including many men and people from the LGBT community) stood in support of the hashtag--#WomenBoycottTwitter.
Back home in India, men like Trinamool Congress leader Derek O'Brien has also extended his support to the campaign with a tweet.
Overwhelmed by the response of boycott, Twitter has finally decided to make moves to protect victims and the vulnerable on its social media platform.
Twitter co-founder and CEO Jack Dorsey created a thread to address the issue.
"Today we saw voices silencing themselves and voices speaking out because we're *still* not doing enough," Dorsey tweeted. "We decided to take a more aggressive stance in our rules and how we enforce them. New rules around: unwanted sexual advances, non-consensual nudity, hate symbols, violent groups, and tweets that glorifies violence."
The protesters against sexual harassment or assault seem to want more as on Monday again one more hashtag, #MeToo, trended.
The trend was started by actress Alyssa Milano, who posted on Twitter that if all women who had experienced sexual assault or harassment wrote "Me Too" as a status, it would "give people a sense of the magnitude of the problem".
If you’ve been sexually harassed or assaulted write ‘me too’ as a reply to this tweet. pic.twitter.com/k2oeCiUf9n— Alyssa Milano (@Alyssa_Milano) October 15, 2017
Milano was right in fearing that the magnitude of sexual harassment is huge across the world. Thus women from various parts of the globe, including India, joined the latest campaign and came out about stories of harassment and agonies they suffered at the hands of their abusers.
The best part of the campaign is once again, many men were part of it, who too faced rape and sexual abuse.
One more positives of campaign likes the #WomenBoycottTwitter and #MeToo is that it questions victim-shaming (a common result of anyone speaking against sexual harassment and rape) by openly coming out about facing sexual crimes.
The hashtag--#MeToo--was trending on Twitter on Tuesday also. While joining the trend many narrated their own ordeal, others were part of it to give support to victims of sexual harassment or abuse.
btw, if you were somehow blind to just how many people have endured sexual harassment/assault & now you're amazed at the numbers saying #MeToo, remember that even with anonymity most folks will never say a word. If that doesn't make your soul cry, you probably don't have one.— Jacob (@TryingNotToLurk) October 17, 2017
Many even questioned the "intention" behind the entire campaign. But the success of the campaign once again brings to light that with each tweet revealing a story about sexual harassment/assault/rape, we now know there is a male perpetrator behind such a sordid human saga.