#MeToo: what should men do?

Friends, I think it is time to address the elephant in the room- #MeToo. Women in India (and elsewhere) are rising in massive numbers to report cases of sexual harassment and assault.

What should men do? How should they react?

To decent men who are wondering what they should do at this moment: speak out against systemic sexual harassment and support the survivors. Just as people who have never experienced racism should speak out against it, men who’ve never been sexually abused should speak out too.

Check your privilege. Listen with humility. There are so many stories.

Introspect. What can you do to make the workplace or neighborhood safer? Racism will not be destroyed only by people of color. The patriarchy will not be dismantled only by women.

I’m learning everyday just how difficult it is for women to come forward in a toxic culture of shaming, victim-blaming, mob threatening and violence, and male impunity. Have an honest conversation with your loved ones. Be respectful: you do not have the right to invalidate anyone else’s experience.

There’s a very basic, low bar for being a decent human being, and men (in the collective) have failed to reach it. If you’ve never sexually harassed or assaulted anyone, congratulations. Here is your prize: you get to start at the very bottom rung on the ladder. And the rest of you? The rest of you, you deserve the lava pit.

Lastly, do not normalize violence as “everything goes”. I do not watch Salman Khan movies. I will not watch Ronaldo in any football match. I will not patronize any comic or journalist who abused or tolerated abuse, regardless of “talent”. If that means I’m sitting at home arranging and rearranging books on my shelf all day, so be it.

Talent or skill is simply the worst excuse: the world will survive and be much better without men who lack humanity.

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