Sunday, December 1, 2013

We, the women, thank you Tarun Tejpal...

                                      We, the Women…thank you, Tarun Tejpal.
It is astounding how it takes just one case  for the worm to turn! For decades, we have been talking about the abject sexual harassment of women in the work place…. with NOTHING happening. And suddenly, the issue is out there  - the genie is out of the bottle, folks! And there’s no looking back now. The seminal moment is here. If we don’t recognize it…. if we are foolish enough to let it slip away noiselessly -  unnoticed and  trivialized – we will  be condemning ourselves to live with humiliation and degradation for the next fifty years. Two generations of women in the work place have silently suffered some form of  harassment or the other, unsure of  how to handle gender crises – big and small. Our time starts now.
 So….thank you,Tarun Tejpal. You have played the role of a catalyst in this vital discourse. And we owe you a big one. Media houses, in particular, have always bound themselves by some peculiar oath. The oath declares – when men f*** up, nobody say nuthin’. And nobody does. Or did. Overnight, that omerata has been thrown right out of the window. A woman has spoken up. And spoken up strongly. Inspired by her courage, more and more women have also spoken up. It took guts for the young woman to do what she did ( and can we please ignore the misogynists in our midst who are saying it’s all a dirty right wing conspiracy?).  The young journo expected justice from her employers. She got none. But she got something much bigger in its place  - she found her voice. And it is this voice that is being echoed across India. Hundreds of women have come forward to share their horror stories. Hundreds have derived succor from the young journo’s courage in taking on someone as well known and as well connected. Especially since we have seen the fate that has befallen some other, equally gutsy women who have tried to expose the misconduct of their bosses. Some were killed, others driven to suicide, still others banished to a life worse than death, with no hope of future employment.
 In the bad, old days women who spoke up were called witches and burnt at the stake. Today, they are called bitches. And ostracized. I hear men  labelling such women ‘trouble makers’. I hear men complain, “She doesn’t co-operate…” Or the newer version : “ She refuses to adjust.” Decoded, these statements mean just one thing  … there is just one connotation : She refuses to give. If a woman refuses to give, that amounts to professional suicide. Word gets around very quickly. And she becomes dead meat in the market. Remember, even Tejpal held out the same threat when he allegedly told his employee  the best way to keep her  job was to go along with his sexual overtures. Most women in her situation would have got the message loud and clear….but not all of them would have found the courage to speak up. By doing that, she has inadvertently breached a dam. Now that the floodgates have been opened, there is no going back .
Whichever way this bizarre case goes -  and I certainly don’t see it taking either a logical or predictable course – the inner landscape has definitely changed for the women of India.  For a few brave ones, so has the outer. With more support systems emerging from unlikely quarters (who could have imagined conservative families standing by abused daughters even five years ago?), today’s young women simply can’t be pushed around. If the boss can’t keep his pants up, sorry, he should brace himself for handcuffs. For all those men who leer, pass cheap remarks or accidentally brush past their female colleagues in the belief they’ll get away with it, the writing is on the wall in big, bold letters – THE PARTY IS OVER.’ It has taken one brave woman to change the old rules of this ugly game. And brave she most certainly is. Make no mistake about that : each time a woman makes a charge of sexual misconduct against a powerful man, she risks her life. We have seen this in case after case. The victim in the Tejpal case is no different. She too has risked her life.

The Tehelka journalist has expectedly resigned. At the time of writing, there was a clumsy attempt to convert the case into a political battle, in which – get this – Tejpal is the victim. If not a martyr. It started with penance, atonement and laceration. The only thing that now remains is a dramatic self- crucifixion. If even that doesn’t succeed, other options will present themselves. Given Tejpal’s penchant for florid prose, there will be any number of publishers waiting with juicy contracts for his memoir. Trouble is we can’t be sure of the version  he’ll write, given that his narrative has changed so many times in under a week. A smart literary agent should tell him nothing sells as well as pure, unalloyed truth. Take a tip from the victim, Tejpal. She has stuck to her story. And freed countless women. If Tejpal really wishes to redeem himself – in the eyes of his shamed family, in his own eyes, and in the eyes of the world  -  he should have the guts to speak the whole truth and nothing but. In so doing, he too will free men like himself… by holding up a mirror and showing them their own sorry selves in the reflection. Give it a shot, Tarun. You’ll feel so much lighter. And so will we.


Unknown said...

very well written .. have put the whole issue in a straight forward way! Men who think they can mess with a women and get away ,do so at their own peril....atleaast from you said"The party is over"

V said...

Such a nice post! Infact an inspiration for many!

Latha said...

Shobhaa, I wish "The party is over". But it would be so naive to think so. Though there is no proof & only based on the media onslaught that Asaram Bapu is in custody for months, in Tejpal's case though there is concrete evidence that he has molested the girl, he's given only 6 days' custody with home cooked food & medical examination everyday. In our country, the law says, "Show me the face & I'll show you the law". Remember there was an inordinate delay in rejecting his bail plea though what he has done is a non bailable cognizable offence ? Let's wait & see whether this is taken to the logical conclusion & justice delivered to the poor girl. Then we can celebrate women's victory. Let us not rejoice for the clouds. Let it rain.

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Snehal said...

Party is indeed over. Hats off to the courage of the woman journalist who stood up.

P V Ariel said...

He, Shobhaa De,
I just read it the other day in DC,
You did a wonderful job here.
A great warning to the men fraternity!!!
Even then its good to be more alert!!!
Keep writing
I love your wonderful writing skill of presenting the things in a pleasant way...
Philip Ariel

NAV said...

The Party is indeed over... very well written. Tarun should take up your advice & come out with the plain truth. And aptly said-he too will free men like himself… by holding up a mirror and showing them their own sorry selves in the reflection.

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nalini said...

I fully endorse your views.we definitely have come of age but I still feel the journo should have reacted immediately come what may instead of waiting for two days

nalini said...

I fully endorse your views.we definitely have come of age but I still feel the journo should have reacted immediately come what may instead of waiting for two days

nalini said...

I fully endorse your views.we definitely have come of age but I still feel the journo should have reacted immediately come what may instead of waiting for two days

Dipti said...

Woohooo! Yes the party is over FOR GOOD. I just hope every woman who goes through any kind of shit at workplace, sexual or otherwise, has the guts to speak up - f*** the job, we'll get another one.

jas said...

Shobha ji well done.You are standing like rock behind this unfortunate victim along with others.Tejpal should be ashamed what he preached and what he did.This is a wake up call for all like Tejpal.Hope he gets exemplary punishment and does not get away because of his political links. God bless you and God bless the unfortunate victim.Hope she will take the fight to its logical end steadfastly notwithstanding threats which may be used by Tejpal and associates.Let us also hope you will give whatever support this girl needs at this hour.Regards jas

Abhirami Muthu said...

Don't forget there are dirty old men worse than Tejpal, attacking little girls, who are too young to understand that they have been violated. Pay close attention to TEACHERS, SPORTS COACHES, TUTORS, UNCLES, GRANDPA, NEIGHBOURS...Parents don't be naïve or brush off suspicious incidents as accidents. My sister suffered due to a 'respected' chess coach, who touched her private parts. UNACCEPTABLE.

Capt Sharma said...

Regrettably pendulum has swung to other extreme. Soon men will have no place to live with honour and dignity. Lot of men suffer sexual harassment at hands of women. Unfortunately no one buys their truth because of misplaced concept of "Mard". Time has come to wire up all work places 100% so that women who are blatantly misusing the biased laws demanding pay hikes / promotions from seniors and crying 'Wolf' of sexual harassment thus inflicting criminal intimidation on men , can also be caught and brought to book. Recent news item about Calcutta lawyer lodging complaint against a woman gang who are raising bogey of sexual harassment to take away whatever money the man is carrying should act as an eye opener. He could survive just because his wife was nearby and some court clerks were also available as witness. God only can save men from these women armed with draconian laws.

Anonymous said...

There is a vital question and more vital point everyone is missing, Shobhaa.

The question:

Tarun Tejpal had admitted to wrongdoing in an email. The wronged girl has said that four letter word - RAPE. Now, all the guy has to do when produced before a magistrate is say: Sir, I admit to wrongdoing. Let us not waste any time of anyone. Simply give me my sentence and that would be that would be that. Sure, Tarun Tejpal will have to be sent to a prison. The chances are that he may get a 2 or 3 year sentence if he does this. And then, he can always "fall sick" and spend the time in the prison hospital or one outside like Satyam's Ramalingaraju did.

The foxing point

Okay, Tarun Tejpal has admitted to guilt in writing in the past. None is going to contest or protest even if he is going to be given a six month or six year sentence very seriously. Or for that matter, even if he gets 6 weeks, the point would be made. So, the BJP ruled Goa police want Tejpal - a mercenary journalist said to be close to the Congress wants Tejpal's custody for something else altogether. Only time will tell what all he ends up revealing in the lock-up. But then, after having done what he did, Tarun Tejpal deserves the worst.

wandering light said...

For every one Tejpal, who is guilty, there are hundreds of men out there who buckle under pressure of threats of sexual harassment charges from women colleagues when they are asked to do their assigned work, deliver on time or just adhere to professional standards.
The net result of these cases is going to be fewer job opportunities for women in smaller organisations too small to afford the legal framework to deal with sexual harassment issues. The hardest hit are going to be young women just starting out in their careers who need mentoring and handholding like any newbie, male or female.
Long after the accolades for your article has dried up, there will be hundreds of thousands of women out there who will bear the brunt of breakdown of trust in professional lives and probably at a time in the begining of their careers when they most need that trust.
Nobody will argue about the vitalness of having a sane and safe working environment for both men and women, free from harassment sexual and otherwise. But the vicious climate that has emerged from the breakdown of trust in working and personal relationships between the genders has created more issues than it has solved.
So save your thanks to Tejpal for the inevitable backlash that is coming.
Shoba you are right. The party is over. Unfortunately, it is probably more over for women than men. That is the essential truth that you wish to gloss over.

Pramod said...

Hello Madam,

According to you, Party is over but that is not the case. For example take 498a. 498a is to protect daughter in laws of India. But Daughter in laws are using to give torture to their old aged senior citizens in laws to have a control on their husbands. Supreme court called 498a as a legal terrorism. 498a is their to protect women but actual fact is there are more females(like mother in law, sister in law) suffering because of false case filed by daughter in laws. Actual victims never complain to police station in India. So same thing applies to this sexual harassment law as well. We find only false cases. Those who are actual victims never come out and women started to loose opportunity to work in bigger organization because of this new law.

As you said, Party is over but not for men. Its for women.
Elite women like you never understand the problems of common woman.

R u kidding me said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
R u kidding me said...

Wandering have wandered away from the whole point.
Are you implying that when women are asked to work on an assignment, they cry sexual harassment? Or If they are not able to meet a deadline, they run to the police and file a molestation case??
As for young women not getting employment in small companies due to a probability of false sexual harassment allegations, that is ridiculous. Young people are highly sought after by organisations throughout India and all over the world. In fact, if young women don't want to work in 'small firms' with dirty old men, they can move on to bigger organisations, where there is more security, better legal framework to protect vulnerable people.
As for 'handholding of newbies', a male or female manager can teach a young person the ropes without assaulting her. I was working in a huge firm at 21, I sat next to my manager and learnt from him. NEVER ONCE WAS THERE ANY INAPPROPRIATE BEHAVIOUR.
It is not that hard to help someone without sexually assaulting the person.

MRA Prakhyat said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
MRA Prakhyat said...

Dear "R u kidding me" ,
You sure seem to be a great soul with one eye. pardon me for that but we need to open BOTH the eyes. This sucker wolf Tejpal was talking and erupting about women's safety few month s back. The SHOMA F CHAOUDHURY was playing the chief justice of the world appointed by GOD himself. The point is in the midst of the so called WOMEN PRO people hidden are the PREDATORS(BOTH MALE AND FEMALE). You have to realize that he crime has no gender. SHOMA is as much a culprit as is TARUN. So my questions are as follwos:
1. Would this new law punish SHOMA for her part in this RAPE??
2. If SHOMA has been protecting man TARUNs in her office drawer what punishment can THE NEW ANTI RAPE LAW give her.
4. Last but not the lease, these charges are heinous and when they are false it causes tremendous agony and hopelessness for the FALSELY ACCUSED. SO Why these laws don't have a misuse clause? Is it so hard to understand for the law makers and so called WOMEN PROS ??

MRA Prakhyat said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Shobha Ji,

Well, actually even men also must thank Tarun ji. Don't take me wrong for respecting an accused, he is still accused not a criminal, let the court decide on it. So, I am not going to judge him on what he did is right or wrong.

But why men need to thank Tarun Tejpal? that i tell you. Because, men are facing lot of discrimination in the name of pro-women laws. day by day they are increasing in number and becoming lethal in nature. Most of these laws heavily misused and many men suffered and lost their lives or hit very badly in their lives that recovering from the trauma almost impossible. But no one cared about them, most of the men and women never bothered about them. The media turned a blind eye on them.

Now, one by one accepting how anti-male the system became. How vulnerable men became. What a mere complaint can do to them. Now, men are afraid of these laws. Now, they can understand other men's plight who are already hit by these kind laws. A big thanks to Tarun Tejpal and brave journalist and entire "hang the rapist", "Enough is enough" campaign brigade. Men can see the suffering of other men in the hands these heavily biased laws. A simple change that many men's rights activists tirelessly tried to bring.

In fact, I recently read many articles published in mainstream media on men's issues and misuse of the laws (every law that affect them), which is otherwise always publish articles about women and their issues only. A very welcome and needy change. So, thanks to Tejpal and every other for making it happen.

MRA Prakhyat said...


This one is for you. Can you please thank SHOMA CHAUDHURY for what she might have done as a favor to end the party. Also mention the party that SHOMA ji is ending here.

Your writings are entertaining for sure. If I am not able to buy Khuswant Singh's "Company of women" I buy "Spouse" and Many more of your A grade novels, they are quite entertaining as I mentioned earlier.

abha chawla said...

MS SHOBHA DE,GUTSY GIRL SUFFERED, AND , ..Price for honesty is "AXING" OFJOB AND REPUTE,,.HER ACT IS BRAVE AND path breaking ,does she remember when she smiled last at her innocence?? ,.MS DE SHE IS paying a big price for "respecting herself and self-esteem",..MEN WILL BE MEN,..

My Page said...

Shobha Behenji,

In your understandable rush to crucify all men as demons, you have forgotten to understand that even men can be victims of sexual harassment and rape. You know as per new rape law, if TT put a finger at the wrong place into a journalist he has committed a "Rape", HOWEVER if a woman teacher or a lady cop puts a rod into rectum of a young buy or chilli powder, you know no law in India classifies this as "RAPE"...

your sympathies are reserved for only female victims kya?

Now coming to your unsaid trith about workplace harassment. In your article you have generalised all men bosses as predators... I know for sure that a woman is capable and legally empowered to put every workplace behaviour under the sun as workpalce harassment. but no such rights for men.

My Page said...

TT and Ganguly episodes have brought to the forefront the much needed debate in the society.

No wonder many Judges and Sr employees are afraid of appointing female subordinates... tehy all know how easily any woman can misuse, I am sorry, USE, the provsions of any anti male law to bring down any respected man.

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Deepak said...

What is required is a serious note of the atrocities
happening to ordinary girls and women . This will be a very big figure as compared to the cases committed by a minority famous guys like Tarun.

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Deepak Kataruka said...

Awesome shobha. Very well written. I think its high time women realize and object to such advances at work place.

Deepak Kataruka said...

Awesome shobha. Very well written. I think its high time women realize and object to such advances at work place.

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