Digital activism can make the socially stigmatized visible and acceptable in the public domain:

Digital activism has helped make socially shunned issues visible by catapulting them into public spaces where everyone can share their experiences. The #MeToo movement stands out as an important example in this regard. The #MeToo campaign went beyond focusing on the misdeeds of one man and introduced a discussion about men’s behavior toward women across the world (Khomami, 2017). More people began to acknowledge that amongst those who sexually harassed women were seemingly “good guys” who had wives and children at home; who were skilled and successful in their professions; and who even supported social causes (Khomami, 2017). The campaign also led to the rise of “whisper networks” among women which were used to warn others about men who habitually engaged in sexual harassment (Khomami, 2017).

During the #MeToo movement in India, women named their alleged abusers, many of whom held powerful positions in Bollywood, politics, and the news media (Jain, 2020). Corporate India responded with sensitization workshops and anti-harassment training for employees. Many brainstormed on how to create fair and inclusive workplaces where there is no retaliation against a complainant (Bhushan, 2018). Hushed conversations about sexual harassment in the workplace began to be replaced by robust discussions in public spaces as it was no longer a taboo to bring up the topic (Bhattacharya & Dasgupta, 2018).

However, many Indian women who called out their alleged abusers also faced a social backlash as they were labeled as “trouble makers” and accused with apparently destroying men’s careers without any basis (Jain, 2020). They were also accused for merely seeking publicity on flimsy grounds. Jhalak Jain, who writes on intersectional feminism, argues that despite the backlash, the #MeToo movement in India represented a landmark moment:

It began an open conversation about what inappropriate behaviour and harassment constitute. It forced companies and institutions to introspect, constitute Internal Complaints Committee (ICC) and follow the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013, also known as POSH law.

The future will show whether corporate India will take cases of sexual harassment seriously after the #MeToo campaign loses momentum (Bhattacharya & Dasgupta, 2018).

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