October 2017 has made a mark in the history books of social media because of a simple two-word hashtag #METOO that brought into limelight the prevalence of sexual assault and harassment all over the world. It trended the world over and made a loud and bold statement on the issue.
Social activist Tarana Burke used the phrase for the first time in 2008, but it was popularised by actress Alyssa Milano, who inspired women to tweet it to spread public awareness, using their own experiences in a gesture that requires great courage and mental strength.
The Uncommon Box strongly believes in doing its bit for such an important cause and has therefore showcased 10 such special posts which convey the message of #metoo in the most graphic and loudest way possible.
And yes, we at TUB believe that sexual harassment is beyond gender. It is the grim truth of the world that boys and girls are equally targeted by ruthless sexual predators. The fallout of this crime is the lifelong trauma survivors have to deal with, along with the stigma sadly attached to them, rather than with the perpetrators.
But it is the time the story changed. The voices of survivors should be heard so that everyone who is suffering in silence knows that there are more people saying ‘you are not alone- it has happened to Me Too.’
Team Uncommon Box has selected some of the starkest posts made on this hashtag. Listen to each voice say ‘Metoo’ in anger, pain, and rage, and sometimes thankfully, in healing.
With our lips sealed
And no further hurt to be leaked
They made the words echoed in our throats
Rhyming in heavy burdens and loads
And now it’s time for this
Anthem to be heard
By the world.
We come out of the tomb
screaming our entrance into the world
We grow up
our expansion celebrated
we grow curves
our expansion feared
We are told to get smaller
now deemed shrill
Our journey as women
is to get back
that voice from birth
pure and primal
When I opened up about my sexual abuse for the first time out loud in the public, a lot of my female and male friends and even strangers opened up to me about what had happened to them as kids or as teens. It made me sad because of the fact that it has been out there since ages and people are either shut down or can’t speak about it because of the trauma and the pressure society has loaded onto both the genders. It’s not just limited to abuse but also harassment and Eve teasing, catcalling and so many other things as well.
That being said, I was sexually assaulted when I was in class 10. It was mid December and I was on my way to a basketball tournament on a Sunday, the metro was too crowded and I was wearing shorts, I was at Chandni Chowk metro station when I felt a hand rubbing on my crotch, a man was trying to feel me down there, I couldn’t do anything because I couldn’t move, it happened until chawri bazar came and I got off, screamed and abused the man. When I told my friends about this incident, everyone laughed it off.
The third time it happened when I was in class 11 and I was going back home from my tuitions in an overcrowded metro bus. I again felt a hand rubbing on my crotch, this time it was a lady, I was scared, I didn’t know what to do so I took a step back but it wasn’t of any use. It happened for at least 10 minutes until I got a seat. I cried myself to sleep that night.
The next day I missed two buses hoping to not see that woman again, my heart was pounding when I got on the third bus, I had to get on this one because there was another tuition to attend. And she was there, she looked me in the eye and smiled at me. And it happened again that day. I never took a bus after that. It’s so traumatizing that it still haunts me, even when I get intimate with someone and if they touch me down there, I freak out. Some of my friends, let’s not call them friends, people I know laugh at me when I tell them that I’m a virgin at the age of 23. And I can’t do anything but look away, be nice to them and kick them out of my life.
I’ve been raised by three strong women, Ma, Nani and Massi and I know it angers me when they tell me how they’ve been teased or being followed.
I hope this campaign brings about a change. I hope it is not normalized anymore. I just hope people don’t forget that this is not a thing to be ignored.
I stood there watching
As he tore off her red panties
Her screams and whimpers echoed
And I stood there behind two doors
One to keep her out
And another to keep myself in
Yet I could still see her
And hear her crying out for help
I was nothing more than a mute witness
A stranger staring from outside;
And I stood there watching
As the monster tore my spirit apart
The Hash Tags should be changed to #Weetoo because it is not just one person’ s story.
Recently I caught myself watching these MeeToo Hashtags on social media. Women coming out socially, describing the horrors they have had faced and still continue to face. And Men too, few, but came out with their gory stories of sexual harassments or indecent behaviour they have caused to others. While for some these HASHTAGS seems fun and other ways of Womenazis occupying virtual space and media for trivial matters but for others, these are the issues that make them feel unsafe and afraid of outside world precisely.
For that, I also posted a #MeeToo on facebook. This again reminded me of an indecent incident which happened to me 6 years back. Well, I was a teenager that time, and one can say I never ever really had such images of assault and harassment at that time.
But NO! The truth is at a very tender age I have had experienced such ‘touches’ from someone in my family. Though he is much older I tried to tell my mother about him. As a result, I was free from his touches. But was I really free?
This realization of safety hit me hard when I was in 10th class and coming back from tuition class around 9 pm. That when ‘someone’, I don’t know who is he still, grabbed my breast from behind. I cried out loud and fell to the ground. After few minutes, I gained my consciousness but there were no traces of him. Since then, this incident has made me more aware of things that I didn’t know before. It has made me think things about the issues that people are facing. It is just not women who have to face, it is ‘we’ as a collective group that continue to face such catcalls, slut shaming, touches, harassment and even rape.
The list is so long so are the incidents limitless.
The protective safety net that our parents bind is no more protective enough to cover the mishaps of outside world. We are not even safe inside our houses. This problem is serious so much so that walking on our own skin is scarier now.
That’s why it’s just the not small issue. Let’s change the Hash Tags to #WeeToo because it is not just a person’s issue !!
I can no longer grow flowers of my own
They mock me with theirs.
They fail to grasp that flowers make them
Vulnerable to pain.
As for I, strong I stand
Barren and mundane.
They can no longer pluck my flowers,
I shall not let them again.
I’ve been thinking about writing this for some time now. Finally inspired after reading the growing number of stories by women with similar experiences. All of the brave and not afraid or ashamed. Empowered from knowing that being vulnerable and sharing our darkest stories only makes us stronger. Connects us more and brings out our humanity.
But it’s not easy. Big acts of courage never are. But writing these words is medicine cleansing and healing my spirit. Talking about the experience takes its power away. For years, the only way for me to survive was to bury this story deep into my unconscious. In that time, I’ve shared it with only a few although it took years to share it at all. Perhaps I felt ashamed or partly guilty. But mostly I didn’t want to be defined or identified by it and every time I confronted it, the pain and confusion I felt back then as an innocent 17-yr old child came rushing back.
I share my story now because I’d like you to know that we don’t have to be defined by these past experiences. We can drop them and overcome them. We can overcome anything. Pain. Harassment. Rape. Abuse. Fear. Heartbreak. Loss. We are powerful beyond our own imaginations. We are not victims. I’ve never let myself be one. I took what happened and turned it into a force for resilience and strength even when I was too young to understand it. I’m not looking for pity. I just want you to know what our incredible potential as human beings are.
How it’s possible to transform pain and suffering into love and courage. How you are not alone and you are not the only one. Us women? We are fucking powerful! We can be feminine, sexual, open, intuitive, smart, sensitive, independent, strong, vulnerable, mothers, sisters, lovers and friends all at once and we don’t need to apologize for it. We don’t have to look down when we walk on the street. We can stand proud, together. We can transform our old stories and overcome what feels insurmountable. I did. We are not our past and we are far greater than anyone who tries to break us down!
I complained about them
And you shushed me
They touched me without asking me
And you blamed me
They ogled at and used my body parts
And you restricted me
“They” were only half the reason
for my insecurity
And the other half was you
who never listened to me !!
As much as I love dressing up, I really don’t really doll myself up outside of a home. I wear a baseball cap and dress plainly most days. Reason being is that I work late nights and use public transportation, which means I encounter all types of people — some are awesome and some have harassed me. I find the days I don’t wear makeup or dress up, I don’t get bothered at all.
Anyways, today I wore this and had three distinct encounters with men. One man hollered at me as he drove past me. I flipped him off. A second man walked past me and stared at my chest. I didn’t bother to say anything back. A third man told me he would love if I screamed his name. The most courage I had was replying to him “Seriously?” I shouldn’t have to cautiously think about what I’m wearing on my commute every day. I’m tired of hiding behind my shield. I hope one day we lived in a world where all wonder women are respected.
You are not your abuse.
You are not what they did to you.
You are not your trauma.
You are the cleverness that survived.
You are the courage that escaped.
You are the power that hid & protected a tiny spark of your light.
You will fan that spark into a bonfire of rage and love,
and with it you will burn all their lies to ash.
Team Uncommon Box sends out its warmest regards and admiration to all those who came out with their words and images for #me too and made it more than a campaign.
As a society, we need to change and change fast. Let us make a start, somewhere, today, now. For it is indeed time.
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