If you want to understand why sustaining #MeToo is a struggle in our country, then all you need to do is to take a look at this meme shaming Chinmayi Sripaada, which criticises her for her clothing choices. It says that the singer wears clothes that make her look like she is ready to sleep with anyone. This is a classic case of victim shaming, which shows to what length some people in our society are willing to go to protect patriarchy.

Again, it is not about what she wears…

A man is entitled to uncouth behaviour on the grounds that the survivor was wearing “provocative” clothes. This mindset not only labels women who dress a certain way as “easy”, but once again gives a free pass to men. When will women be free from this constant policing? More so, just when will the onus of guilt shift from women’s conduct to that of men, when it comes to sexual crimes?

What decade are these people living in, if they think, female singers should wear a saree simply because of their chosen profession. We have long associated conservative clothing with a certain profession. Perhaps it is because we have grown up watching certain singers, who belong to a certain era, dress that way. One must remember that these women wore what suited their sensibilities. That does not mean that all women of that profession should wear similar clothes.

SOME TAKEAWAYS

  • Many people are shaming singer Chinmayi Sripaada, a #MeToo survivor, by circulating a meme which questions her clothing choices.
  • According to them, she dresses more like a woman ready to sleep with anyone, than a singer.
  • When will the onus of guilt shift from women’s conduct to that of men, when it comes to sexual crimes?
  • This is the kind of mentality which sexual predators exploit. They know that they will bypass the blame of misconduct very easily because the society will be too busy questioning the survivors’ character.

In our society, people misinterpret certain female clothing choices to be dignified, while others as cheap or slutty. Little do they understand that dressing is all about comfort, choice and sensibilities. We do not choose to wear certain clothes to ward off evil male gaze or to attract attention. We wear what we identify with, or what we find most comfortable. But alas, when has society paid any heed to what women endorse? The majority is still stuck with notions that wearing a pair of jeans or skirt automatically makes you “available”.

Sexual predators know that the society will bypass the blame of misconduct very easily because they will be too busy questioning the survivors’ character. Why was she wearing such clothes? Why was she out so late at night? Do good Indian girls talk to strange men at parties and accept drinks from them? Should we approve of Indian women who advocate sex before marriage and working late hours? If they are in trouble today, doesn’t it prove that their virtues are wrong?

Women like Sripaada have put their reputation and careers on the line to call out sexual harassment at their workspaces. But how has the society repaid them? By questioning every aspect of their being, because they are women. By yet again refusing to acknowledge that men are at fault. Perhaps they are afraid that faulting men will eventually prove that the system of patriarchy – on which our society runs, is faulty too. But denial to accept the truth won’t make it go away. Women are stronger than the system. They can power through such shaming and stand by what is right. The question is, will it be enough to bring a change in the collective mindset of our society?

Also Read : Will #MeToo Affect Power Structures In Indian Media?

Yamini Pustake Bhalerao is a writer with the SheThePeople team, in the Opinions section.  The views expressed are the author’s own

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