#MeToo movement: Equality or security?
The word 'feminism' is a widely used term these days. But it did not gain popularity until 1890s when women from different parts of the world started to examine their unequal statuses. Later the 'feminism' has taken multiple dimensions in multiple times.
There are three main waves or time period of feminism and each wave has been triggered by some specific catalyst. The first wave feminism was centred on women's suffrage movements, the second wave was on women's liberation movement and the third wave was on individuality and diversity.
The first wave feminism occurred during the late 19th century. After that many years have passed. Now women not only vote but also work in various fields with men shoulder to shoulder. Still, women are not treated equally. Some people express their grudges saying "How much facilities you need to think yourself equal?" But they never understand that it's not about the facilities we are concerned. It's about the treatment that we receive from our surroundings. It's about our securities.
This is 21st century. This new century has given us a new wave of feminism where the term 'feminism' is getting an online platform. This online based feminist movement started in 2004 with a small initiative of Jessica Valenti and her sister Vennessa. They have started a feministic website named feministing.com where they have created a floor for diverse range of feminists and women's voice.
This 'feministing' has made feminist issues more visible than before and it has gradually paved the way for anti-street harassment platform 'Hollaback' in 2005. This 'Hollaback' has allowed hundreds of women to publicly expose their stories of sexual harassment and the picture of those who have abused them.
There is now a new kind of activism which is widely known as Hashtag Activism (the term coined in a 2011 article in The Guardian). This new trend is basically the use of hashtag with identifiable phrases that drive digital activism. This way, an activist group's audience can find minute by minute update aggregating all posts that use the phrase.
This rise of 'Hashtag Activism' has been strongly incorporated into fourth wave feminism. It has used social media as a weapon against sexual harassment, violence against women and rape. That's why it is best known as #MeToo movement.
This #MeToo movement originally took place as a movement for underprivileged sexual assault survivors by black feminist Tarana Burke in 2006. Her purpose was to empower women through empathy. Then in 2017, Alyssa Milano proposed to use this phrase to bring out the extent of sexual harassment by showing the number of women using the phrase. And the result was devastating. Millions of people started to share this phrase in different languages.
Now let's look at our country. Everyday women are getting serious victim of sexual harassment in our country. Women, who usually use public transport, become easy victim of it. Men intentionally touch them, pinch them, and give odd gazes. Many keep silence and tolerate. But when they try to protest, people start to accuse the victim not the victimizer.
In our country, love rejection of a woman may results into burning alive. Rapists go unpunished. Women, who are raped, become ostracized. A culture of silence surrounds rape, which means people are scared to talk about it. Women are continuously condemned for their dress code. They are discouraged to stay outside their home.
If we closely look around, we will see unnumbered case of child molestation and domestic violence. At least one in three women is beaten or otherwise abused by an intimate partner in the course of her lifetime globally. According to UN database, life time physical and sexual intimate partner violence rate in Bangladesh id 54.2%.
Here the problem is most of them goes undetected. Our social bindings compel us to remain silent and tolerant. Hopefully, our government is now concern enough regarding sexual harassment towards women. The rapid completion of the trial of Nusrat's murder can be a good example of their concern.
But I think only judiciary steps will not solve the issue. Every human being should come forward and change their outlook. Women should also come out of their social bindings and let the world know about their sufferings because silences encourage the tormentor. Positive thing is our present generation is very outspoken. Now they are protesting against it. #MeToo movement should also be started in our country more widely. We should never conform to the guilt.
So, this International Women's Day, show our Zero tolerance to sexual harassment towards women and child. Surely, recent #MeToo movement has brought out the severity of sexual harassment around the world but it has not been able to stop the violence to that extent. So, it is our duty to raise our voice against it and not to let it go unpunished. We should let people know that it's not about equality, it's about our security.
The writer is a Lecturer, Department of English Language and Literature, Premier University Chittagong