Name and shame’ is the buzzword of the moment. It started in Hollywood, where it unfolded eerily like the plot of a C-grade, smutty film presented by Pahlaj Nihalini. Woman after woman stood up and named Harvey Weinstein, resulting in the shamed sexual predator being sacked from his high-profile job—not because his company found out what he’d been up to, mind you, but because we found out what he’d been up to. The crime, clearly, is not the sexual abuse itself. The real crime is getting caught.
And, that is why name and shame is so important. Currently, there’s a list up on Facebook, growing as we speak, of sexual predators in our desi universities. It’s been vetted and compiled by a young woman lawyer in California, Raya Sarkar, and it names more than 60 professors young girls on campuses should stay the hell away from.
Putting the names of their abusers out there has been hugely cathartic for the survivors, but old-guard feminists are frowning at this arbitrary naming and shaming. Follow due process, they caution the younger women. Let the authorities investigate the case. Don’t just randomly put up a list, vetted by just one woman. Form a committee. Otherwise, innocent men may suffer. The whole thing could become a witch-hunt.
(Oh, and, apparently, a couple of their... um, friends and funders, too, are on the list.)
But the younger brigade of feminists isn’t toeing the auntyjis’ line. They’re disenchanted (and rightly so) by the due process, and they’re looking for closure beyond the law.
I admire these young girls—so different from my generation. When I was a child, I was so prissy and brainwashed that I really thought getting sexually harassed was something to be boasted about and giggled over (clearly, too many early Sunny Deol movies!) and that only ugly women became feminists.
Still, it would be good for these sassy lassies to realise that they grew up free of the male-gaze internalisation that plagued my youth because of the old-guard feminists they’re currently dissing.
However, I kinda see their point. I don’t understand why there’s nothing wrong with giving an Uber driver, a dentist or an Airbnb a one-star review if they’re inept, dishonest or dirty, but there’s something wrong with warning my sisters in the educational world if a certain professor is creepy, handsy, or a full-blown rapist.
Why bhai? It’s not like a Facebook post is the Supreme Court of India. It’s just... social media. I fail to see why men’s professional reputations are a sort of revered holy cow, not to be touched, but women’s bodies are fair game, to be pawed by all. Frankly, the men who’ve been named can just do what we Indian women have been taught to do from the cradle itself, when creepy men lech, wolf-whistle, rub themselves against us in crowded buses, or fondle themselves while ogling at us—ignore, ignore and ignore!
So, keep speaking up, girls. If the existence of your list makes wannabe (or practising) predators exercise a little self-restraint, then I’m all for it. And, of course, it would be great if the institutions these men work for would look into the accusations with a degree of seriousness. But maybe I’m being super-naive!
Whatever! I’m happy there’s a list out there, and am going to save it in the same folder as my other useful internet sourced lists, which include:
a) 100 movies to watch before I die.
b) 5 deadly self-defence moves that will cripple your assailant.
c) 10 cocktails you can make from scratch.
c) 8 pixie hairstyles for women in their forties.
Anuja Chauhan is an author and advertiser.