Sonam Kapoor had supported Tanushree Dutta when she spoke up about being sexually harassed by Nana Patekar on the sets of Horn Ok Pleassss. Now, the Neerja actor has penned her views on the #MeToo movement. Sonam, as the guest editor for Thrive Global India's online portal, has written a blog in which she has spoken about the movement categorising it in different segments.
Sonam started her blog by talking about her family. She wrote, “The women in my family have been trailblazers. They are empowered, vocal and undismissible. It’s perhaps why my mother recently shared the following quote with me: When you have a lot, instead of building higher walls, build a bigger table. I am privileged that I did not grow up with relatives for whom off-handed sexist remarks were the dinner table norm. Or where women were asked to shut up and look down.”
The Prem Ratan Dhan Payo actor has requested people to believe what the survivors are saying. She strongly wrote, “Yes, a person is innocent until proven guilty but must it come at the cost of rejecting a survivor’s account? Defenders of the status quo will try their utmost to discredit women's stories and undermine this movement. Misogynists will blame the victims, powerful men will deploy powerful legal teams to intimidate their accusers, and some will use this movement for their own gains with false claims. While people must be treated as innocent until proven guilty, we need to remember that women are taking on incredible personal risk and trauma to tell their stories. We owe them, at the least, our trust and support.”
Sonam stated that there’s a need for a near total mental reboot. She wrote, “Mothers must stop treating their sons like they’re precious gifts from God. We have powerful people in our country who are women but our mentality continues to be that menstruating women—or women at large—shouldn’t enter temples.”
“What we need is an entire mental reboot. A shift in mindset which acknowledges that sons and daughters should not be treated differently. That you don’t have to give your daughter away. Most likely, she’ll walk the road herself and will, more often than not, turn around to come AND care for you when you’re old,” she added.
The Khoobsurat actor has also written about consent, giving a clear picture of what exactly it means. She wrote, “Consent can never be silent. Any person must seek permission before touching another person. If it’s a no, then it’s an unequivocal no. If it’s a maybe, then it’s still a no. Only if it’s a resounding, enthusiastic yes, is it a yes. When a situation involves a boss and a subordinate or a person with more power—literally and metaphorically—than the other, it’s the person with power who has the responsibility to be extra cautious.”
Sonam, without being hesitant, has written that people at a position like hers should speak up and take sides. “I believe that people in every industry—not just Bollywood—need to speak up. People in positions like mine should speak up. While I understand that it’s not everyone’s job to preach change, it’s pivotal that you do. Your fame has earned you this platform and you cannot wash your hands off the responsibility that comes with it. If you are silent and don’t take sides then you are, I am afraid, on the side of the person who is wrong. Always take sides.”
Sonam wrote that she pledges not to work with the alleged predators, “There’s also fear of losing assignments and jobs you’ve worked hard to get, but today, after the courage Tanushree Dutta has exhibited, let there not be any open secrets in any industry anymore. I pledge to never endorse or work with individuals proven to be predatory and guilty.”
One of the strongest points Sonam made was about sexist jokes and we agree with her. “As Indians, we tend to laugh at inappropriate jokes out of politeness. It’s not funny, it has never been funny. Roasts, for example, are not funny. It’s not okay to make sexist, homophobic, racist jokes in an environment which is rife with sexism and discrimination.”
Sonam urges everyone to stop labelling people by sharing an experience of her friend. “A friend of mine didn’t want to speak about her experience because she was concerned about how people would label her. ‘I’ll be labelled a victim or a survivor for the rest of my life,’ she told me. ‘Every interview I’ll ever do will be about what I faced and I don’t want that.’ I respect that she has made that choice but there’s a lesson lurking here for all of us: We need to move away from labels.”
She further writes that women should be empowered at workplaces, “Women shouldn’t be hired for tokenism but be empowered to take up key roles where they make decisions. It is, however, reflective of our society that despite having women leaders (and, of course, the Goddesses whom we pray to) our women are discriminated against, have neither equal opportunities or rights, and are mutilated, sexually harassed, raped and killed.”
Sonam ended her blog on a very important note that the #MeToo movement should not be bracketed as men vs women. “Finally, a word of caution: Each one of us, as a supporter of the #MeToo movement, must be with survivors regardless of their gender. It’s the bracketing of this movement as men v/s women that can weaken the powerful punches survivors have landed on our superficially inclusive workplaces. In a society where women are complicit in perpetuating misogyny, it shouldn’t be about women v/s men.”