Purpose//

Gul Panag on #MeToo: Women Will See Other Women Speak up and Feel Empowered

The actor on how patriarchal conditioning prevents a woman from realising her true self and why the #MeToo movement will have a lasting impact

We can’t blame patriarchy on men. Women are equally complicit in perpetuating it without even realising it. This is why, I don’t think women are women’s biggest support systems because when women are weaponised in a patriarchal environment, they end up doing more harm to other women than good.

The reason we’re having a #MeToo movement today is because we haven’t had support systems. We haven’t had a culture where women can speak up and share what is viewed as shameful and humiliating from the societal perspective.

We are in a society where the onus of all that goes wrong, whether it is a bad marriage or failure to produce a male offspring, is placed on the woman. This patriarchal conditioning prevents a woman from being the fullest version of herself. Because, from day one, she is conditioned to believe that her status in society is not quite the same as a man. Ideally in an equal world, women shouldn’t have to fight for her rights because she would have access to equal opportunities across the board.

The #MeToo movement is happening, although belatedly, because finally some women have spoken up and the forward-thinking law, the Prevention of Sexual Harassment at Workplace, has taken its course.

The movement is a spark that has lit the keg of gunpowder we were sitting on for decades. A lot of people might argue that it’s only on social media, but they have to step into companies to realise how seriously companies are being forced to comply with the law. This is happening in tandem with the movement and, eventually, it will percolate to tier II, III and IV cities where women will see other women speak up, feel empowered, and think that if they can, we can.

Of course, nothing is going to change overnight. Any kind of change is going to take time. Someone has to instigate that change. Sometimes, the change comes from a movement like this. It may die down but the #MeToo movement has opened a door and a door that’s not going to shut that easily.

(As told to Apekshita Varshney)

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