By Mayank Saxena, Batch of 2021
Stemming from a bankruptcy lawsuit filed against Weinstein & Co. whose Ex-Chairman, Harvey Weinstein is indicted of sexual misconduct, including rape of more than 70 women, the #MeToo materialized in the form of a social media crusade, led by the group – ‘Silence Breakers’, when Harvey allegedly tried to stifle these women through non-disclosure agreements. It was catalysed in the autumn of 2017 when a wave of allegations against several eminent personalities of the Hollywood industry were filed for sexual malfeasance. While some like Emmy-winning comedian Louis C.K. apologized for their actions, others like Academy Award winner Kevin Spacey labelled their actions as “inappropriate drunken behaviour”. These asseverations sparked an online social media campaign, tagged #MeToo, that emboldened men and women of all walks of life to reveal their ordeals with sexual harassment and assault, often years after they occurred.
Given the premise that cases of sexual misdemeanour need to be encountered deftly, since such
incidents have both physical and psychological repercussions, the question that must be
answered is, ‘Can a social media movement bring about a reform?’
I don’t even know how a #MeToo campaign works for the benefit of the society. If it’s just posting on social media and proving you’ve been a victim, maybe you’re admitting your weakness.
– Himanshu Gupta, MPAE, Batch of 2020
With several such movements like #BringBackOurGirls, #NotInMyName and #NeverAgain failing to either congregate adequate support or dissipating after a short epoch of uproar, it is imperative that we ask ourselves – is using platforms where misinformation is too easy to fuel, platforms which are known to be easily manipulated, wherein one’s privacy is open for sale, the right way to counter sexual harassment?
Social media has unquestionably been a boon for grassroots social and political movements. The rise of Facebook, Twitter and other technologies since the mid-2000s has coincided with an explosive increase in popular uprisings augmented by the fact that social media lowers the cost of communicating the crucial “where, when, how, and why” of protests to large numbers of people to a considerable extent. Moreover, when physical gatherings are prohibited, digital venues such as Facebook or Reddit can create forums for new, virtual and effective public spheres that are difficult to shut down. But the question is not about the pros and cons of social media, it is about whether the movement will sustain long enough to bring about the change millions are hoping for?
I believe that social media is a great platform to express your views since not everyone has the time, patience and courage to reach to the general public through protests or marches. But, reaching out to the concerned authorities through social media is still quite a long chain and the entire process seems like a rant for those who just wish to be heard. Unfortunately, these rants often remain limited to a group of people and get lost in the huge ocean of memes or blog posts, rather than reach the concerned authorities. Most of this ends up in more social media harassment and cyberbullying, especially for girls.
– Rushil Verma, ECE, Batch of 2019
A major concern regarding such movements is that they have degraded the experience of participating. These social media supporters termed – “Clicktivists” connect and pay attention to such issue for a short period of time. These movements fail to capture their long-lasting attention. Participating in digital activism can give the impression that one is making a difference but creating real change requires far greater dedication and sacrifice.
This campaign has definitely made us realize the magnitude of problem at hand. Because when one sees one’s own friends, family and colleagues using the #MeToo, it is shocking and one starts to realize that it is indeed very real. Moreover, this campaign has given many people, who were previously too scared of victim-shaming, the courage to speak out.
-Agrima Yadav, IT, Batch of 2019
Moving on from the philosophical and ideological aspect of social media campaigns and scrutinizing what people actually think about the movement and if it has been able to achieve its motive is a much more apt parameter to adjudicate whether the movement was a success or not. Or whether it had the potential to bring about a change.
A majority of people have high hopes regarding the outcome of this revolutionary campaign. However, given the fickle nature of human mind, it is bound to die down.
-Dhruba Narayan, ICE, Batch of 2018
However, some seem to believe that this hashtag has been misused to grab attention by extreme feminist and is only focused on cases of harassment against women.
I think the #metoo was a wonderful distraction from the everyday jargon used on social media. With so many people putting this up as their status, this movement gained momentum rather quickly and definitely made us all realize the gravity of the situation.
-Ishika Sachdeva, ECE, Batch of 2020
Nonetheless, the impact of a campaign can be seen in what actions were taken with regard to it. Celebrities brought down, the app launched in South Korea, protest marches worldwide and most importantly, people becoming aware of the situation are enough parameters to say that though it may die down, it still brought about a change in this society.
Getting to hear the reality of the world from close ones would be a further eye-opener for those who somehow aren’t aware. At least, being a part of the movement is better than sitting without any action and blaming the government. The focus might ultimately shift to something but that shouldn’t limit our capability of bringing a change, if possible.
-Sanya Devgon, ICE, Batch of 2020
Whether people might think that this is being used to grab attention by claiming victimhood or actually being used as a tool to support survivors and end sexual violence, the #MeToo campaign has been an impetus to the society realizing the magnanimity of the predicament at hand. It may be such that the focus may shift but it has not and will not hinder us from bringing about a change.