I won’t lie. I’ve been contemplating whether or not to write this blog for some time now.
Probably since the time a senior member of the media industry, Bhaskar Das, said to me, “Malini, I’ve heard you’re ‘expensive.'” Referring to some rumor (I can only assume) about the cost of a tweet on @MissMalini and then proceeded to ask me “jokingly”, “So I’ve always wanted to ask you this one question, tell me Malini, how have you resisted the urge to have an extra-marital affair with a Bollywood star?” All the more inappropriate and offensive since he did this on stage, in front of a thousand people, at a media conference I was invited to speak at, after having just won IMPACT’s #1 Most Influential Woman in Media, Marketing and Advertising 2017. I’ll give you a minute to soak that all in.
Cut to roughly a year later, similar situation, I’m on stage in the capacity of a successful entrepreneur, sharing my journey, dropping knowledge on how to build an influencer brand and the moderator makes a couple of oddly timed and pretty vapid sexist “jokes”. So here I am sitting on stage wondering if – as history repeats itself – should I storm off stage, ignore it or laugh it off (as I’ve been conditioned to do). Instead I decided to call him out and embarrass him for his comments (you can read the whole story here) and it was extremely empowering.
But the point of this blog wasn’t this. The reason I recounted the incidents above is because they are mild enough to sweep under the carpet, or so we think, because even though Mr. Das said what he said, in front of 1000 people, I was afraid to name and shame HIM for it because it might have some kind of negative impact on MY career. So I can only just imagine what it must be like for women whose livelihoods depend on keeping “quiet”.
Over the past few days Twitter has erupted with a slew of allegations against various “important” men across industries. From inappropriate comments, to dick pics, to straight up physical harassment. Is India’s #MeToo finally here? I guess it’s not that simple, but it’s a start.
I wanted to write this blog to tell you that we at MissMalini Entertainment are making a promise to you and ourselves to lend a voice to women who need to be heard. We will no longer turn a blind eye to a broken mind or heart because our industry relationships might be at risk. We will hold ourselves accountable for our own silence.
It is unimaginably difficult for victims of sexual harassment to come forward because of the backlash they often face – reverse accusations, attempts to discredit and slut-shaming. On top of that, the personal trauma and shame that already comes with the ordeal.
I am so glad people are coming forward with their stories and putting to rest the demons they have carried for so long. But I’d also like to say this; it’s ok if you can’t bring yourself to talk about it. Don’t let that make you feel bad about yourself. It isn’t easy. I am a survivor of sexual abuse myself and I’m not ready to talk about it. This is as far as I will go today. But I’m hoping that with every voice we allow to be heard, with every story we tell with empathy and kindness, this will be a safe space to share the truth and we will create an environment that you can.