Published: 06th November 2017
Why I failed to finish the post of my #MeToo story on Facebook but will fight another day
After the #MeToo wave has lost its numbers, here is an account of why I didn't post my stories. I didn't want my painful abuse story to be lost in a tirade of jeers and generalisation
For the last week, our social media feeds have been flooded with posts where women shared details of men they had been harassed by. It was a moment of mini-victory in my head because it was a sign of progress with women sharing something that has always been considered hush-hush. A dirty secret almost.
It seemed only natural that I follow suit and so I geared up to share my story, rather stories, of abuse. So I opened Facebook, navigated my way through the 'Share an update, Punita' tab and began typing. As I started pouring my heart out for the #MeToo post, I finished a paragraph or two. I had a lot to write but I halted when the thoughts, the disgust, that cringing feeling came back to me. Three deep breaths and the thoughts were gone I was ready to write again.
Shame or sham: The reactions ranged from many men discarding the post and opposing the campaign, one that illicited responses from all genders
They say that time heals everything, It's true, in some sense. I was able to counter my rather morbid recollections of the incidents but there was something that came with it — this nagging query about why I didn't take any action when it happened. Again, it wasn't my fault that I didn't, but it irked me, not standing up for myself when I needed myself the most.
That's when it struck me. I felt that writing about the abuse that I suffered and naming the people responsible for it was a mere consolation for something that deserved a better reaction. A stronger reaction. Beyond just pity.
Why was I posting it now when I could not gather the courage to speak about it when it actually mattered? I had reasons not to speak then — I didn't want my family to get hurt, maybe I didn't want people to view me differently or perhaps I was just too shocked to register what happened. It was established in my head that it wasn't my fault but it still did make me feel guilty.
That's when it struck me. I felt that writing about the abuse that I suffered and naming the people responsible for it was a mere consolation for something that deserved a better reaction. A stronger reaction. Beyond just pity. Going ahead with these thoughts, I realised that my posting something on Facebook won't have mattered. It is not pushing the men who have harassed me to take any kind of responsibility. There has been nor will there ever be an apology.
We need more: Yes, we need to stop the abuse. But is it a war to be fought merely with hashtags?
And it's not just me. All you need to do is look at all the posts and you will realise that no one has apologised or owned up to anything after being named in these social media posts. Instead, the #NotAllMen squad was out and about to discourage the movement, once again, waging their war with the wrong people and at the wrong time.
Another issue I had with talking about one of the most vulnerable parts of my life on the internet was that the movement has exposed it to the risk of getting diluted by people making fun of it. Sure, we can ignore them, but they have done their jobs. My emotional outburst, my pain is a joke to them. Slow clap, they would say.
I cannot let that happen.
Something that can actually hamper the movement is the possibility of false claims. Yes, they exist and that's no surprise. And do I want to be a part of something that can be questioned at the mere drop of the hat? No, my harassers deserve stronger punishment and I don't want to be satisfied with a mere acknowledgment that they might not even read properly.
Doubt call: Do I want to be a part of something that can be questioned at the mere drop of a hat?
I speak about it anyway to the people who I think have the potential to understand what happened to me. I don't want to reduce it to a hashtag that was trending for a few days. That just makes the fight easier which it is not. We are much stronger than this. Not all wars can be fought on social media and with hashtags. This is probably one of them. #MeToo deserves a better platform than an unverified space that can have fingers pointed at easily.
(The writer's views expressed are her own. You can write to her at firstname.lastname@example.org)