As I was reading the latest confession of a US-based lady editor, a sob story shared years back by a beautiful young lady in her early twenties who worked for Asian Age then flashed before me. I vividly remember her tragic experience while she worked under the same accused editor who is facing a barrage of charges. This editor she had narrated then had lured her with the same kind of a plum position abroad and a lavish flat in the US and to top it all, intermittent business trips to London. She reported to have dodged the advances for a while, refused to succumb and preferred quitting her job in the Asian Age. Today the journalist is out of the power circuit of Delhi cooling her heals in a nondescript place. This story is in contrast to the US-based journalist who has come now out with her story of rape and compromise. Even a cursory comparison which cannot be helped given the similarity of the two stories sheds light on the dramatic outcome of compromises.
For all those compromised women, how many women with noncompromising values suffer, is an issue that needs to be discussed. As every victim of the #MeToo exploitation has to be heard and redressed, it is high time we weed out the stories of heroic fights of women who undertook the arduous journey to success without compromising. These are the narratives of those aggrieved women whose justified entitlement to professional success and resulting fame, fortune and thereby dignity had been difficult or even snatched away, because of a few who were ready to crawl when asked to bend.
When a woman compromises in her career journey she bargains not only her dignity but mortgages the dignity of many like her. The predator gets emboldened and starts believing in the ‘silence of the lambs’. If men have dared to exploit women, it is because as women, we have given men the courage to think that women can be made to compromise.
Further, the irony is that while there is nothing new in the tales of exploitation and subservience of women, the hypocrisy of the post-modern women in support of her husband, partner and father is an emerging sub-plot worth highlighting. All the men who have been named and shamed seem to have nurtured healthy relationships with women back home. Don’t these women react to the horrific accounts of betrayal by their near and dear men? Or is it that these women like their counterparts in the wilderness feed on the spoils of the males and hence have to keep quiet? Or are they all groomed to be forgiving characters of Bollywood movies in the sixties? They need to take lessons from the whispered stories I hear of womenfolk in rural Haryana who prefer to quit their homes and take up menial jobs to escape the sexual advances of their rich fathers-in-law while their husbands are away from home.
Hope that these counter-narratives are not wiped away by the #MeToo Tsunami while critiquing the ethics affecting women be it in a profession or the society at large.
The choice between compromised comfort and undaunted dignity is never difficult.