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A watershed moment

By: Ranjita Biswas

A watershed moment
The decade of the‘70s to ‘80s with the upsurge in the Feminist movement and its subsequent influence changed a lot of things- for women themselves, society, evenfor the art and culture scenario. Though the Harvey Weinstein ‘affair’, the continuing revelations and its cascading effect on public consciousness may not be seen as a ‘movement’ on that scale, it is indeed a watershed moment for women in many ways.

It is as if a floodgate has opened since actress Alyssa Milano initiated the #MeToo in her Twitter account to talk about sexual harassment at workplace, mainly in the tinsel town. The thousands of postings show how deep the rot goes. The shoddy history of some of the worst kept secrets in Hollywood or Bollywood (our actresses are  still a little weary of revealing names  compared to Hollywood but considering the social context, it’s understandable)has been laid bare.

 
Meanwhile, formidable reputations are falling apart like “house of cards” (pun intended). Like worms coming out the woodwork, new allegations are pouring out from women, and not under pseudonyms either. Exposes  about  people you thought  above board,from actors like the much awarded ‘Graduate’ Dustin Hoffman,  to directors like Brett Ratner(Rush Hour), to oh, oh, a former American president getting touchy-filly,  saddens and fills the heart with disillusionment.
 
All those apologies like,‘if I have done something like that 30 years ago…sorry, sorry, sorry’really don’t cut any ice. They knew exactly what they were doing and thought they had gotten away with it. Until the dam burst involving men from the entertainment industry to the British Parliament. Wait till new names are added to the list in the near future.
 
One wonders why in the liberal West where live-in relationships are common as also sexual liaisons between man and woman even before the ring is popped, these guys act like this;some are supposedly ‘happily married’ too with kids. 
 
As our very own PC says, it’s the lure of power, the oversized ego that he can hold to ransom in his pudgy fingers an attractive woman who is desperate to make it to the chosen field of her work. The predator knows this very well and while leaving the powerful women in the industry alone- no harm in trying though as Weinstein’s actions reveal, it’s the young women (men), whom he targets.
 
It is in this context that the current churning, whether in the  dream world,in the corridors of power - and the corporate arena is not a white lily either if  whispers are to be believed, can prove to be watershed moment when looked back a few years hence.
 
That all these women have had the courage to speak up after years of humiliation and silence, that some of the best known people in power are falling like nine pin in public esteem,is surely an empowering tool for women to fight back injustice. Thanks to the solidarity offered by fellow harassed women, and those in power who empathise with them, the fear of getting isolated for speaking out is gone. 
 
And even as the accused cringe and whine, out of this name and shame movement, something positive is bound to emerge to affect a change for women in the work place. Sometimes it needs a turbulence with its rippling effect to change the status quo.