Politics of Sex and Gender

In October 2017, amidst the rise of sexual allegations against Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein, a new phrase entered our vocabulary and everyday consciousness - #MeToo. The term was first used in 2006 in this context in 2006when sexual harassment survivor and activist Tarana Burke started a dialogue to reach sexual assault survivors in underprivileged communities. As happens with everything, the movement only gathered momentum a decade later because of the unbelievable number of public personalities and people in power associated with each of the allegations that came out. It completely changed the politics of the movement and brought to it the much-needed worldwide attention that would force archaic structures to take a hard look at sheer imbalance of power amongst the two genders.

#MeToo galvanised women across the globe and gave them the strength to come forward with their stories. It started so many conversations about the asymmetric power relation along gendered lines, bodily autonomy and gender, race class differences. Yet despite the raising of consciousness across masses about a problem that has existed for generation all one can hear about is how the movement is a way to defame powerful men and end their careers.

The true nature of power and the disbalance really shines through as it goes to show how even with their traumas, stories and strength women have to go above and beyond to even get their voices heard. If the president of USA can still extremely derogatory remarks about grabbing women by their body parts and publicly invalidating the allegations of and assault survivor- what does that tell you about the narrative being spewed?

In Iraq, women reporters are still not allowed a level playing field when it comes to analysing and critiquing on issues of politics and sports. Women are more than capable of telling their own stories – this would explain why the media in not just Iraq but the rest of the world wants to manipulate the stories to place the entire onus of gatekeeping against sexual abuse on women. Instead of actually brining about change on the structures based on the foundation of power abuse and gender differences, the media and these powerful men are doing everything to move the conversation away from its intention.

The idea that bodily autonomy is a basic right and that vulnerability does not mean permission is still an unfathomable idea to most. When Tarana Burke started this movement at the grassroots level, she wanted to create a safe space for sexual assault survivors to come and speak against their perpetrators and nit be reduced by what had happened to them. It was the acknowledgement of the horrific turn of events without being reduced to just them. It gave the community an idea about the violence doesn’t end with the act- it highlighted the far reaching powers of empathy- yet the media and the power drunk patriarchs have reduced it to mere vindictive plot designed to need the careers of men, almost as if the personal struggles testimonies, shared trauma, years of abuse, lost jobs, ruined relationships, loss of confidence and actual loss of life of millions of women across the globe was all orchestrated for this motive. Yes, all of it to implicate men, how appropriate.

This mix of power and privilege that continues to show how explicitly male entitlement saturates our culture. The whole hullabaloo around # NotAllMen just goes to show how men would go to lengths object to imperfect feminist movements rather than actually doing something about systemic oppressive behaviour patterns. It cannot be led by binary understanding of gendered violence - one in every 4 girls and one in every 6 boys is sexually assaulted. Disabled people are four times more likely to be sexually abused mostly by their medical care providers. People from indigenous communities are 3 times more likely to be assaulted and not to forget the millions of daily wage workers who are sexually exploited every day at jobs which they cannot afford to quit. This isn’t about just gender differences, the whole movement and the politics of it cannot be reduced to the more famous, heteronormative, white and upper middle – higher class demographic.

It is about bringing in systemic changes in the power distribution structure that renders the one without any- completely helpless. It is about understanding the complexities of our current lived situations and creating a nuanced discourse. It is about understanding and reforming the conversation around, gender roles and consent, dominant constructions of masculinity and intergenerational trauma. These conversations are the impetus for changes. Instead reducing it as movement intended to uncover celebrity scandals, the movement should be given its due credit for creating safe space for women, one that believes in keeping the dignity intact of all human beings irrespective of what has happened to them. #MeToo is about empowerment and solidarity. Time’s up!

References for Envisioning a Democratic Culture of Difference

Vachhani, S. J. (2020). Envisioning a democratic culture of difference: Feminist ethics and the politics of dissent in social movements. Journal of Business Ethics164(4), 745-757. Retrieved from


Hankin, S. (2018, March 29). The Political Impact of #MeToo. Retrieved from Medium website:


Flores, E. (n.d.). My Disability Has Excluded Me From the #MeToo Conversation. Teen Vogue. Retrieved September 17, 2020, from


Xiong, Y., Cho, M., & Boatwright, B. (2019). Hashtag activism and message frames among social movement organizations: Semantic network analysis and thematic analysis of Twitter during the# MeToo movement. Public relations review45(1), 10-23. Retrieved from


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