I was out to dinner with one of my non-desi friends when the #MeToo posts starting coming in on Facebook. This is all in an effort to show how the magnitude of the problem of sexual assault and harassment, and it’s heartbreaking.
While out to dinner, my friend took no time in posting on her page, and even recommended that I post to mine. I pride myself on being someone who is an advocate for women’s rights, a protester to any type of harassment and someone who often brings these conversations to my friends. But not my family. As I started to post, I was hit with a wave of panic – what if my Dadi sees this?
I deleted the post, sat my phone down on the table, and looked up to see this mixed expression of confusion and sadness on my friend’s face. I started to explain; it was just not something that I could begin to explain to so much of my family. Facebook was the space for me to keep in touch with everyone back in India, and this was just not appropriate content for them to see. I didn’t want them to know what I had been through, and then talk to my parents about it, or bring it up between themselves.
[Read More: Poem: ‘Sincerely, #MeToo’]
I put my phone away and didn’t think about it until I woke up the next morning. I started scrolling through my Facebook page and saw almost every woman I knew either posting it themselves or writing stories of women they knew who had been victims. It wasn’t until I saw a desi friend post it on hers that I felt empowered to do the same, only to then spend the rest of the day thinking why did I need to wait?
Why did I need to wait? My grandparents, the women in my family who live in Delhi, and across India, go through harassment on a daily basis – far more than what I experience walking down the streets in New York. So then why did I feel that initial doubt, shame, and the paralysis of ‘log kya kahenge’?
These conversations are so incredibly important to have with every single person in your life, no matter the doubt or shame that may come with it. That’s the entire point of this post, right – you are not alone. A little later in the afternoon, a family member posted the same, and in that moment I felt it. This is not a problem that is isolated as we fight against a President that has made this a cultural norm, but rather a worldwide issue for anyone that identifies as a female.
So feel empowered, feel angry and feel solidarity knowing that there is someone else out there that has gone through the same and we are in this fight for our peace of mind, body and livelihood together.
Neha is a communications and media specialist based out of New York. She loves discovering and partaking in interesting, artistic, musical and unusual experiences, which generally range from Breaking-Bad pop-up bars and Harry Potter tours of the Met to dark alley theatre productions and interactive Christmas light installations. Neha is also a co-director for All-American Awaaz, hosted by the Association of South-Asian A cappella, aimed to foster the growth and expansion of the South Asian a cappella community, both competitive and non-competitive. You can usually find her harmonizing with the sounds of the Q train.