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Where Are We Now?

Lessons from #MeToo

With #MeToo having taken the world by storm in the last few years, reflecting on debates in the Indian context reveals some important lessons. Due process is one of them but is not the key takeaway; attention must be paid to how feminist solidarities are being forged. Further, contextualising it within the changing nature of the nation state makes #MeToo stand out in the trajectory of feminist movements in India, as being one that does not engage with the state or any institution. It thus embodies what Latin American feminists have called “politics in feminine,” in which politics of desire unseat the rights-based focus of such movements.

In 2017, the #MeToo began spreading across the world on social media after reports emerged alleging that Harvey Weinstein, the Hollywood film mogul, had been serially sexually harassing and assaulting several women. The moment has been acknowledged as the beginning of the #MeToo movement, and with the hashtag acquiring different forms and meanings in different places (#WoYeShi or “MeToo” in China, #BalanceTonPorc or “denounce your pig” in France, # QuellaVoltaChe or “that time when” in Italy, and so on), the movement has changed and adapted to contexts that are far removed from Hollywood, or even the first world alone.

The MeToo movement as it took place in India has called for much introspection and rethinking of strategies in the larger trajectory of feminist movements in India. The two most prominent debates on the movement had to do with the methodology it adopted, and its accessibility; both of which became intersecting contentions. A statement by feminists on kafila.online, responding to Raya Sarkar’s List of Sexual Harassers in Academia (LoSHA) in 2017, which contained a list of prominent men from Indian academia who were accused anony­mously of sexual harassment, asserted that it was important to uphold norms of due process and in the same breath questioned the caste identity of Sarkar on Twitter.

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Updated On : 13th Oct, 2020

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