The Monsters of #MeToo, Halloween Edition
It has been a season of monsters; all kinds of monsters. Some have been exorcised, while some are still hiding in their black cloaks of shame.
Since the monsters’ list seems to be ever increasing, this Halloween, we decided to list some of the monsters that have been called out.
The Ghoul of Shame
In a patriarchal society, a sexual harassment survivor is expected to not talk about the abuse. Even if they do, they have to whisper it, because the survivors are expected to bear the guilt of the assault. As a result, a ‘ghoul-like’ shame looms on them.
They whispered their stories until the whisperings swelled like an incoming tide, until they discovered their voices, realised and understood that their stories were important and that they could make a difference. And then, the ‘ghoul of shame’ fell on society.
The Monster Under the Bed
Even after the ghoul of shame retreats, the monster of 'what if’ continues to haunt survivors of sexual harassment. As the skeletons of secrets that had remained buried for years come tumbling out, ‘uneasy’ thoughts are triggered in everyone’s minds.
Ironically, though, this monster doesn’t just haunt survivors.
Whether the abuse is verbal, physical, sexual, emotional or financial, the abuser convinces their victims that what is happening is normal. That power dynamic is reinforced by society and culture: stories become secrets, abuse spreads, abusers grow more powerful. As a society, we become belatedly aware of how this dynamic enables decades of sexual abuse.
But time and again, survivors have vanquished this monster living under their beds and come forward to speak up. To them, we say, more power!
The Zombie Army of Trolls
Once the ghoul of shame is cast away and the skeletons of secrets are out, then comes the army of zombie-like trolls.
These ‘zombies’ come in hordes to muzzle the courageous voices. Just like the undead, these trolls work in predictable ways: they mindlessly keep doing the same thing again and again, follow you relentlessly and haunt you. What they ends up doing is, they take away from the issue. They drown the voice of reason and let clutter win.
But even then, through the din, scores of survivors fight until their voices are heard.
The Defamation Werewolves
We’re always surrounded by these werewolves. They seem perfectly fine most of the time, but something snaps when they get a few minutes alone with their ‘prey’. And these werewolves don’t need the full moon to turn into a beast – they become so voluntarily. But when their victims call them out, they shrink back into their human selves and accuse the victims of ‘crying wolf’.
But beware, for you’ll be able to see the wolves in them when they come out with defamation charges.
Scariest of them all, these werewolves!
Frankensteins all Around
The #MeToo movement has been able to unmask several monsters masquerading as ‘people’ around us. But even as courageous women outed the predators, the Frankensteins remained.
‘Why are you airing dirty laundry in the open? These skeletons are best kept secret,’ the Frankensteins of society keep telling survivors. They make sexual harassment about the predator and not his actions. The very language they use to describe these memories is meant to shame survivors and keep us silent.
Words like ‘dirty’ or ‘skeleton,’ steeped in secrecy and embarrassment, turn the focus away from the perpetrator and on to the victim, often making the victim doubt their own experience and rethink speaking up. They enable the cycle of oppression and abuse.
Every time a predator is pulled down from the pedestal, these Frankensteins come to defend their monster and ostracise the whistleblowers instead.
#TimesUp For Monsters
Sexual predators have gotten away with harassment for years. The guilt of not speaking up has been a monstrous reality for the women. So this Halloween, exorcise your guilt and speak up. Talk about your experiences of being harassed, groped, molested and wronged. It is not your cross to bear.
If there is an experience that is haunting you, Halloween is a good time to cast it away. Call out them monsters and their Frankensteins, let the fear and horror be theirs now.