This free gift that all men got meant we needed a powerful global hashtag trend to finally make us uncomfortable.
Each #MeToo post since October has disturbed us, over and over again. I wrote an #IDidItToo post (“Struggling to Grow Up A Feminist”) back then, but the epic proportions the trend took soon put me into a zone of fear and discomfort like nothing ever did.
I stopped reading the posts as the scale started showing up, because I would cringe and repel. I would take my eyes off the posts or quickly scroll the screen further down when I saw articles discussing the trend.
Of course, the posts gave discomfort because I’d think about the women I love most in my life and as the sheer volume of such posts showed the problem was too commonplace.
But, another reason was, in suddenly focusing too much on powerful individuals, the nuances of the topic began to divide feminists themselves. It created distrust among well-meaning people as well as between genders (case in point: the debate over “The List”).
We began to throw around extreme opinions and angry exchanges – instead of reflecting on our own highly patriarchal lives to explore where the confusion was coming from. Patriarchy is a problem that has victims and perpetrators across both genders, and hence, it cannot be solved through distrust.
Tolerance needn’t mean impunity, and discussion doesn’t mean fiery debates. Male feminists who messed up needn’t be hypocrites, and female victims who speak up must not be called attention-seeking.
We struggled to form uniform opinions on what constitutes consent and harassment. Many, still basking in the privilege, even trivialised the real struggles.
In discussing powerful men and specific cases (which we must discuss), we forgot to discuss the real men and women around us. We forgot to look into where this originates – into the roots of patriarchy and a culture of inappropriate behaviour.
Each debate with two sides – instead of a discussion on the same side of the table – meant we took an important discourse away from the path towards solution. That we have used this opportunity to, unknowingly, build distrust and disagreements instead of a solution to a global problem is only a sign of our times of polarised discourse.
Through distrust, we all lose, and the problem remains.