Why I can’t slap back #metoo

Krithika Rengan
Privilege is a term seldom understood. It can most often be only understood by the oppressed and the victimised. The #metoo debate has captured the imagination of the nation. Opinions fly past us without much thought put into it. The most striking opinion has been a ….

“Strong women don’t have *me too* sob stories, they only have * I slapped him back * short essays.

A thought process like this smacks of privilege and an utter lack of understanding of how power dynamic works. It reflects arrogance and lack of empathy. Abuse doesn’t occur with strangers. Abuse is most often perpetrated by a man/woman in a position of power. The victim is in a position of vulnerability. The abuser is a relative or an uncle. Sometimes he is a teacher, sometimes a superior. It breaks my heart to see the young woman who are coming out now being slut-shamed and having their motives questioned.

I am 50 years now , mother of two brilliant doctors and a doting grandmother to a beautiful young baby boy. I run my own business and for the past 15 years have been able to choose my time of work. 40 years ago when I grew up in Trivandrum , things were different. Father was a chartered accountant and we were socially respected. Ours was a large family. A favourite child of all my uncles , it was a shock when my privacy was first violated. 1970s we weren’t taught about good touch or bad touch. My uncle whom I loved the most decided it was ok to take liberties with me.

Unlike some of the women who found the courage to describe what happened to them, I am unable to type it out on the computer screen. The memories of the incident and its repeats will haunt me for a lifetime. I could confide only to a few and all of them asked me to hush it up. In my family whatsapp groups when I see men discussing the #metoo movement with disdain, I feel like shouting back. Often it ends with meek replies on how I disagree with them. Every word of mine subconsciously aims to not offend them. Yet that is one privilege they don’t afford to us women. Before they decry the entire saga of abuse , they don’t think that it could offend the women in their families.

In school, we had a master who would insist on pinching my underarms for every misdemeanour- real or imagined. I couldn’t talk against him then. I was all but a girl of 12 then. These men misused their position of power and proximity. They knew that their actions would go unquestioned. They would pinch me and next day smile at me as if nothing happened. We are the ones expected not to create a scene lest it offends them. I still don’t have the courage to name the relative who abused me. When I see these women coming out and naming their monsters years later, I know that they are taking a big step towards fighting for a safe environment.

I was born in upper middle class family and had access to good education. Yet it took me decades to come out. I shudder to imagine what the millions of underprivileged young women in this world face.

#metoo

Krithika Rengan , founder of Charvi Skin Solutions is a mother of two and a loving grandmother. She writes about women empowerment and gender issues.

8 thoughts on “Why I can’t slap back #metoo

  1. Very nice mam.. your art of narration is so impressive! the last three lines teared apart my heart & soul, it’s full of truth ! irony of our cultural didactic society!
    Looking forward to read more from you!
    With regards & best wishes!

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  2. Krithika Manni – you have boldly voiced out what many girls have been through / and are going through – I respect and salute your courage. It is not an easy thing to do, Forget people taking the offender to task, they will not even empathize with the victim; children and women are not considered important enough in society and violation of their basic rights does not bother anyone. Thank you for sharing this painful experience.

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  3. Thanks a lot for the support. The article is just representative of what many women face all over the world. I finally found the courage to open with help of my husband R S Rengan and my sons

    Supportive families are very essential but most women lack such support systems.

    At this age when I have successful sons and a beautiful grandson, I have no ill feeling towards anyone. But I wanted to initiate a discussion on such uncomfortable topics with family and friends. I don’t our kids to suffer like I did. The adults of my age should think twice before touching any young boy or girl. I really am overwhelmed by all the support.

    Love you all. #metoo

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  4. Bold and honest Article Madam.. hats off to your courage and the support from your family ..

    DEVALLA’S

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  5. Wonderful Kritika,
    you have showed exemplary courage in penning these words. Thanks to Rengarengan and your sons. As you have already mentioned, all statistics show that it is the known people who have easy access. They are the perpetuators of such acts. Abuse of trusting innocence is unpardonable. Raising consciousness, should make people think of their actions. Hats off to your family for their support.

    Like

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