If any lasting good flows from the on-going copycat MeToo campaign in our midst, we would have achieved something. But knowing how these things work, aside from making a sacrificial lamb of the junior foreign minister M J Akbar, we are afraid male behaviour may not alter for the better. Power and male dominance in our society remain inseparable, harking back to the ancient traditions and pieties rooted in a puritanical religion which confined women to home and under purdah. These ingrained habits cannot be so easily wished away, though happily these are gradually changing.
Women empowerment and gender equality are worthwhile goals, but given that the incidents Akbar is being pilloried for happened decades ago, it does raise legitimate questions of timing and motives. Journalism is one profession where its practitioners are supposed to know their rights, are able to distinguish between right and wrong and are generally supposed to be sensitive to the infringement of their private spaces. We are a little sad that the women journalists, now, serially reporting their tales about alleged sexual misconduct by the then editor, lacked the courage to call him out when it actually happened. Yes, we know all their reasons which supposedly held them back. But is it anyone’s case that even if they seek some sort of a mental catharsis by dragging Akbar’s name in the mud, women with similar experiences in other fields will gather courage to out their tormentors. Change in our society takes place at a glacial pace.