Sunday, October 14, 2018

Thoughts provoked by #MeToo

The #MeToo movement is gaining huge momentum in the country. Only today I got to know a little bit more about it. I had heard Emma Watson talk about the movement in her speech some time back, but only now I seem to be seriously gaining knowledge about the ethos of the movement. I read the news, watched YouTube videos to acquaint self about the #MeToo movement. I think enough has already been said about it and talked about it and it is unfortunate that people have to undergo such harrowing experiences in their lives. It is impossible to imagine the trauma one goes through in situations of sexual harassment and objectionable behavior. 

I think assault of women by men, that of men by women, of men by men and women by women, these are all forms of domination, an unquenchable thirst to impose authority over someone and their lives. I think as a society we have a very messed up sense of pleasure and the appropriateness of the actions to achieve it. Stripping someone off their dignity just to suit our own emotionally catalysed desires and uncontrolled state of mind is not only inhuman but highly condemnable and downright unacceptable in a civilised society. However, very few people realise this. 

I always find one thing very very puzzling. How can anyone derive pleasure by doing acts that the other person is not enjoying or if there is no consensus involved? Isn't a close and intimate association with someone at that level of transparency a sacred bond? A friendship that evolves with time, through storms and all tides. And if the person is uncomfortable why would anyone want to make things worse by coercion, by wielding their power or by harping the song of love? For a long time I myself did not understand what all this meant that I am writing about, but now I think I know and understand. Our Bollywood movies depict women as goals to be achieved. There are storylines in which the woman says "No" but even then the guy is persistent/sobs/gets drunk/wails for his love/suffers endlessly and in the end they become one. As a growing up child that's what I liked, enjoyed, never made sense of it, never understood the "NO" that the girl or woman used to say. Consequentially, nothing seemed wrong to me until I read an article in Guardian in 2015 that changed my life, my belief system and my outlook towards such movies and story lines. When I read it, it made a lot of sense to me. I incorporated some lessons from the article in my life. 

Most of the times it is the men who are accused, both prevalence and incidence of sexual assault by men on women is higher than any other gender-combination group. Yet, we must not be caught up in this as the truth alone. As I said before, to me it appears as an individual-to-individual act of domination. Because when I look at it that way, I can look within and ask myself if my conduct is proper and decent in my interactions with people. This helps to focus on improving the situation in personal ways rather than being a participant in the criticism party or the blaming congregation. I also want to state clearly that I support mobilisations and increased sensitisation about these issues in public. 

There are many things we need to learn in life, but the most important of lessons are those of handling rejection, both polite and the violent ones. And all this learning happens experientially, and therefore many a times people go astray on experiencing something that directly rips their hearts apart. Incapable of handling selves during the phase of separation or healing, people often torture others (sometimes for years) screaming about their "love" in all ways possible - continuous calls, senseless and overly sentimental messages at wee hours of the day, making others call the "beloved" thereby practically giving them and own self so much agony and trouble in the name of "true love". I do not think it is love, I think it is action cropping up due to mismanagement of emotions, disrespect towards the right of the other person to live life on their own terms and total loss of sense of self-identity.Ironically, these are the kind of characters that the movie industry promotes, these are the kinds of undisciplined sentiments that the Hindi songs promote and also some poems/shayaris. I do not blame the creators of fine art, I think it is fantastic to have a diversity of ways to channel our deepest and purest of thoughts but a lack of observance of discipline in our conduct under the influence of these channels is never justified. Not in any situation, not on any planet!  

Most crimes, if we pay attention closely, are actually crimes that happen when a person goes out of control in handling his or her self. Of course, it is not easy to handle oneself; like any art, this art is learned, decision by decision, step by step and suffering by suffering. What right anyone has to create unnecessary problems in someone else's life or create emotional cyclones? Getting accused of sexual harassment is a huge disgrace or any harassment for that matter. Some people learn early that anything of that sort has not to be done again or repeated and that there is a need to exercise caution in interactions with people. Many people find it unnecessary to learn and often discard the need of it outrightly. And when their bottle is full upto brim that's when our TV screens flash news of "sensational exposure". 

I can not change anyone or expect others to behave in a certain fashion. I simply can't. In fact today, this morning, I read that what happens is not my responsibility but what I do is my responsibility. And that tells me that the one person I can monitor is myself, my actions, my conduct, my responses, my reactions and my every step in the way. And that seems sufficient. Now I am not a saint, I have made my own share of mistakes, lapse of decisions and I will continue to but I do believe that I am evolving as a person. And so are all we, evolving human beings learning from our mistakes, bad experiences, traumas, dramas and chronic moments of discomforts. It is cleansing to admit mistakes and move ahead as a better person. On the other hand, being on a treadmill to extract pleasure by torturing people can be a very dangerous business to continue. 

I started the article with #MeToo and I have, you might think, come some other way. But I personally feel this is what it is connected to - our personal conducts. No one harms someone else or infiltrates in someone else's private life and territory unless their mind is not at the right place. And the mind usually gets displaced from the right place in emotionally challenging times, in times when their is a seeming void. However I think those are the most powerful moments and heavenly opportunities. The opportunities to recollect self, make it whole, make it better and prepare self for the other experiences and challenges that are to come in life. That's it. Its not easy to practice, I can hear someone of you saying that. Well, the greatest lessons come in the most horrible of situations, if we remember to keep our sanity and wisdom alive. Period. 

So, I think that it is a good business to mind one's own business and do our duties in best ways possible. I also feel sometimes that we have become great achievers and fantastic inventors, yet there is a lot that remains to be learnt in the realm of handling and managing oneself. Because believe it or not, that is the biggest skill; I consider it as the most prized skill of all. It is most difficult and elusive also; it is easier to lose one's self-control rather than to reprimand selves lovingly in times of inner turmoil but that is where the magic lies. 

Anyone can point fingers at others, as is happening now! The question is how many of us can point fingers to ourselves? And then what to do about it. None of us has to be a saint for this, but we can always remember that everyone of us has that element of empathy within, that element which says, 
"To my brother or sister, how can I inflict pain to fulfil those desires that have cropped up due to my uncontrolled mind and undisciplined emotions?". 


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