Equality Is All Cuckoo Talk For Us; TVF Sexual Harassment Row Mirrors Our Ugly Face
Another sexual harassment case, Yawn! Another woman, crying and whining about the sexual advances by her boss, Yawn! Another instance of people venting their outrage on social media. UGHHH! Frankly, I find it to be all well-orchestrated. The same scenes keep playing out every time a woman is molested, harassed or raped.
The outrage, debates, discussions, oh boy the marches and protests! But then something's amiss. Why is it, that even though we make all the right noises, still cannot cultivate a safe workplace for women?
Why a sexual harassment victim has to hide her identity and go anonymous to put her ordeal in front of the world. She is not in the wrong, so why does she need to put on the veil.
Barely Speaking With Arnub, Tripling, Permanent Roommates are some of the gems from Team TVF.
TVF is the digital content start up which grabbed eyeballs with its unique web series and spoofs. Youngsters became instant fans of these programmes, including me. I remember spending my weekend binge watching Tripling and Permanent Roommates. Who knew the uber cool, digital content platform, showcasing sardonic stories and spoofs, would find itself muddled in a sexual harassment row.
An anonymous blog post on March 12th sent everyone in tizzy when sexual harassment allegations against TVF boss, Arunabh Kumar came into fore. Since the allegations started doing the rounds, Arunabh has come out with some of the most bizarre statements. Of all the statements this one particularly stands out,
"I am a heterosexual, single man and when I find a woman sexy, I tell her she's sexy. I compliment women. Is that wrong? Having said that, I am very particular about my behaviour." -- Arunabh Kumar
The whole comedy industry jumped in and shared their stand on the issue. Some supported their colleague, some dissed the allegations as they were done anonymously that too after a span of 2 years, and some simply spoke about the need to have stringent laws for countering sexual harassment at workplace.
Who said what so far on Twitter about the allegations is a telling tale of the current situation. Slugfest describes it the best. But let’s clear off of the confusion and doubts.
What has surfaced is the age old reaction to such cases. Why didn’t she speak earlier? Why now? Why didn’t she disclose her name? What if it’s just a way to defame the said person?
Not saying that all these questions are irrelevant. Questions must be asked and transparency has to be maintained. What has particularly come out in this fiasco is the blatant victim-shaming we so often encounter and indulge in.
Just because you are generating “female-oriented content” does that mean you cannot be questioned on your problematic behaviour? Feminism as a concept is selling like hot cakes nowadays. Can we be honest here? If you really believe in the concept of equality then it is absolutely idiotic to denounce feminism. The movement like any other, has its share of successes and setbacks. With changing times it is also evolving to get everyone under its umbrella. But to call it unnecessary is simply foolish. We need feminism not just for women but for men too.
From a business point of view, it is different, it questions and it definitely gives room for unconventional ideas to take shape. Of course it is a saleable concept. So, generating content around it clearly doesn’t give you the license to ‘reportedly’ molest and harass women. TVF’s managing group must realise this before putting out brazen statements in defence of their founder.
Also going back to Arunabh’s statement, where he believes since he’s a heterosexual man he can call women sexy, is rather a brazen display of machismo.
No Mr. Kumar, you don’t have any right, going around and mouthing unsolicited comments (or compliments) to women about their bodies. There’s a huge difference between appreciation and catcalling. Harmless flirting also constitutes as sexual harassment.
Social media has gone a step ahead and declared Mr. Arunabha an offender, but we are not here to add credence to the allegations or diss them. The confusion surrounding a grave incident like sexual harassment is being dwindled down to a TRP driven show, diluting the main concern. Safety of women. Harassment at workplace is not a cosmetic topic to talk about at dinner parties. It is real, it is happening and we have adjusted our systems to it. Unless something out of the line, doesn’t happen with us, it seems alright to keep our heads down and go about with our lives.
Boycotting TVF is not the solution neither is calling out and cornering out the alleged offender. These are just short term fixes. What we need is a concerted effort to track down such behaviour and reprimand it at the earliest. Why not teach your men and women to understand what constitutes sexual harassment. The list is long and multi-layered and we need a holistic approach. But first, stop victim-shaming and jumping the gun. Till then can we please stop getting our dose of #CheapThrills from the TVF sexual harassment row.