Tanushree Ghosh is a Senior Engineering and Program Manager at Intel Corporation and Founder and Director of Her Rights Inc
Well, I thought about this too. Not only before I started
writing the book, but during, and after. In fact, the why is why I dove into
this project, which entailed not just writing the book, but understanding
gender and gender rights broadly. As I have noted in the introduction, like for
most I know, when MeToo started for me is extremely hard to pinpoint. It’s even
harder to pinpoint when, if ever, it will end – but that I will come to later.
Just like Tarana Burke, for whom MeToo happened when she listened to a sexual
assault survivor but instead of supporting and standing up for her, dismissed
her owing to Tarana’s own experience with sexual assault and shame. MeToo – or
our experience with sexual assault – or, in a broader sense, our experience
with differentiated experience just for being female – are so many, and so
much, that it is not tangible or quantifiable. Do we remember how many times
they were groped in public transportations? Or how many times they felt
violated for no apparent reasons that they could prove? Many I speak too,
including myself, don’t believe that this is something worth mentioning. Our
acceptance of the unacceptable is pervasive and omnipresent. And as I have
showed in the book through a heat map of countries and specific cultural
nuances of each that worsen one aspect of gender discrimination (or violence)
or other, India can’t be singled out. Gender violence (or the even more defined
space of what the #MeToo ended up representing – workplace sexual harassment)
is not something that can be (or in my opinion, should be) put into a defined
box. There is a cause and effect and effect and cause relationship between
gender un-parity and gender violence (including sexual assault). As the Visakha
fight showed in the case Bhanwari Devi – decades prior to MeToo – a women’s
lack of safety in her workplace affects her socio-economic parity, and the
equality metrics of the entire society.
Therefore, MeToo for me was not just when I was touched without consent. It was
when I was asked to not pursue aeronautical or mechanical engineering because
certain fields that involve fieldwork just might not be for women. It was when
my cousin brother, years younger to me, was asked to escort me for any evening activity.
It was every time when I was told no – because I was a girl. How many of us can
say, irrespective of which country they are at or from, that they can’t relate?
Some of us accept this with pride – seeking solace in feminine identities and
roles – some accept this with shame, but we all know it. The matter is, however,
even if our brother’s do accompany us, without a revision of the moral fabric
of the society, will we be safe?
As Jyoti Pandey showed with her death – no. But without understanding why, how much, what, and how, there can be no revision. That is why I wrote. As I wrote in the book, incidents like that the one we call Nirbhaya, have again and again caused incitements, but gender has consistently fallen secondary to class, caste, and corruption. As I have also shown in the book, that is not unique to India. But we need to change this. We are not fighting for privilege; we are fighting for equality. We are fighting for gender neutrality: no one’s gender should prevent them from being or doing what they want to. Freedom from sexual assault is just a piece of it – but a piece that doesn’t exist in vacuum. And therefore, it doesn’t end.
This is why I wrote.
The article has been authored by Tanushree Ghosh
The article has been authored by Tanushree Ghosh, who is a Senior Engineering and Program Manager at Intel Corporation and Founder and Director of Her Rights Inc