#Metoo gave us sleepless nights and hopeful mornings, hopeful in a broken way, knowing that it will be yet another exhausting day, but knowing that more demons will be unmasked. The movement made us lose a lot – our (at least mine) misplaced sense of comfort in silence, our peace of mind, our already shaken faith in due process, our idols, our trust.
But here’s what I gained from #metoo — friends.
In a matter of days, new friendships were formed and old ones reaffirmed, across cities and across time zones.
Women I did not know of were donning the mantle of leaders and communicators and tirelessly compiling lists and testimonies, engaging with frustrating Twitterati, giving it to them 280 characters at a time. And yet finding the time to be in touch with every survivor who approached them, checking up on them.
Women I had never spoken to before were offering help and reassurances, and at the very least, lending a patient ear. They lent a patient ear to reason and rants alike, because one cannot separate the two anyway.
Women I respected and admired once again rose to the occasion, words their weapons. Women I have counted as friends for years tackled the situation with kindness and humor, ready to offer their homes and hearts.
For the first time, people asked “how are you” and I did not feel the need to extend the usual, formal, safe reply of “I’m good.” It was okay to say I’m not okay to someone I did not even know.
I call many of them friends although we may not have bonded over dinner and drinks, the rite of passage that most friends in my world undergo. But I did raise a virtual toast with someone I have never met. I sent her a picture of my beer, she sent me a picture of her long island iced tea. We bonded over coping mechanisms, we bonded over anger.
A powerful man like MJ Akbar may have gained the services of 97 lawyers but I gained the power of thousands of women whom I don’t even know.
I’m richer by people, including men, whom I count as friends and confidantes now, I am also richer by a jar of Nutella sent by one of them, and the number of heart emoticons in my inbox that have nothing to do with cheesy conversations!
I’m also learning to extend the same patient ear and helping hand to other women now, to pass on a jar of Nutella, to send an emoticon and mean it. I’m learning and living solidarity.
#Metoo, as it unfolds right now, owes its existence to women like Bhanwari Devi and to Raya Sarkar’s LoSHA, and it owes its power to each one of us. It will unfold in the most uncomfortable of spaces, it will be rude and destructive; and we will survive it, just as friends do.
Alankrita Anand talks about #MeToo and the solidarity which challenging and reconstructing orders in the society.