With more and more men being outed as sexual harassers in the #MeToo flow, chances are all women know one, work for one, may be born to one, married to one, and in an odd case here and there are themselves one. Predators apparently are everywhere - if we look at ourselves hard enough, could even be us. The past is a funhouse mirror where we all look different. No, not a good time to be a man.
For years the planet gave men platinum card privileges, a free pass to, well, make passes. Still, it's a shock that so many men we respected and looked up to are, in the end, just men. Gropers with long ugly stories of pouncing, grabbing, pawing and smooth lines behind them. Pedestals lie empty, feet of clay twitch their toes. Cupboards are finally empty as skeletons dance among us. Sexual harassment even got its own abbreviation. From shh to SH was indeed a bumpy ride from lower case to capital letters.
The playground is now open to all classes, all genders, all shapes and sizes. Truth is reaching for the sky on the swing, going up and down on seesaws, dizzying itself on the merry-go-round. Mother Nature is suing us for gender bias.
Women are thinking different thoughts, their stories are changing, they are becoming heroines in their own narratives, they are owning their life like they never did before. Despite the fact that the culprit is sometimes their own boss, boyfriend, even dad. We get hit on while our husbands hit on other women. Who grooms the groomer’s wife while he is out grooming? Someone sexts your wife as you sext someone. The sisterhood must not spare boys in their own backyard. For this is the price we pay for exposing other men – our own men stand exposed.
Stray women who opened their mouths in defence of 'their’ men are eating crow; nothing provokes accusers more than being called a liar, as they brandish more proof and startling details. New quotable sayings are tumbling out to reflect the times: ‘if lies had legs, he would ask they spread', for example.
Sabarimala gates have opened. Casting couches have their stuffing ripped out. Icons are rendering apologies. Even a Hillary Clinton who routinely defended her ex-president husband (‘she was an adult’) has made people stand up for Monica like never before. She was an intern, he president; do the math.
Priests are being defrocked and movie stars are stammering even as women rack their memories so as to leave out no unwanted touch on the terrain of their bodies. The stamp paper is bought – our body belongs to us. We are laying claim to our own skin.
Men, we rate you ten on ten as predators – how do you rate us women... as preys... as whistle-blowers? No need to hurry with the reply; for the first time in the history of human beings, women are not waiting with bated breath to know what you think.
Earth, previously a men’s-only club, is opening up memberships for non-men. The world is being re-decorated in pink, all its walls won’t be blue.
Shinie Antony is a writer and editor based in Bangalore. Her books include The Girl Who Couldn't Love, Barefoot and Pregnant, Planet Polygamous, and the anthologies Why We Don’t Talk, An Unsuitable Woman, Boo. Winner of the Commonwealth Short Story Asia Prize for her story A Dog’s Death in 2003, she is co-founder of the Bangalore Literature Festival and director of the Bengaluru Poetry Festival. zero-tolerance Disclosure: All matters brought to Network18’s attention which are within the purview of the workplace have been forwarded to our Internal Committee for Prevention of Sexual Harassment at the workplace for appropriate action. The Internal Committee is independent and all recommendations made by it are followed through by Management action. Network18 Group has a policy when it comes to sexual harassment. The company complies fully with all legal provisions and seeks to ensure a speedy and effective Redressal on complaints.