Barkha Dutt’s open letter to #MeToo critics

24 Oct, 2018

India’s #MeToo movement is a powerful social campaign led by women. But not everyone is a supporter. Veteran senior journalists Tavleen Singh, Manjeet Kripalani and Seema Mustafa have openly criticised #MeToo, dismissed it as elitist and in some cases blamed the women making the allegations. Journalist Barkha Dutt questions them in her first video column for ThePrint, India. Here is the full script:

Dear Tavleen … Manjeet …and Seema…

Like millions of women, I have watched in pain, anger and dismay… As you have run down the #Metoo movement …

In your time…you have all been game changers and rule breakers.

In an age when women journalists were asked to cover flower shows and fashion shows … You fought and made your mark…

Yet today…you mock and sneer and insult other women who are fighting.

Dear Tavleen, Manjeet and Seema: Why?


Instead of making men accountable…you have put the onus on women to remain safe from predators…

Isn’t that bizarre?

This language:

“Women threw themselves at him”, you say Manjeet, about Akbar…

“Why did you go to Suhel’s house”, you say Tavleen…to a young woman who has outed Suhel Seth’s violation.

And in the Tejpal rape case you…Seema wrote that the victim did not appear visibly agitated.

This is the language of inquisition.

This is the language of misogyny.

Like those who blame a woman’s clothes… her sexual choices… her coming home late… to rationalise rape, molestation and abuse.

Dating someone… drinking with him… working with him… or even marrying him… does not surrender our right to consent.

Dear Tavleen… Manjeet… Seema: Why…

Dear Tavleen… Manjeet and Seema… all three of you have mocked and dismissed #Metoo for being elite.

In ”#MeToo Hold Your horses” …Seema Mustafa you call the movement… Exclusive… Arbitrary …Subjective…

Manjeet Kripalani you go much further …actually sneering at courageous women as ‘Metoo Wallis’.

First. Feminism is not a binary, it’s not Either Or.

Second: What is elite about the Right to Work?

Between 2004 and 2012 – 20 million Indian women quit working.

Female labour force participation is down to 27 % just two points ahead of Pakistan.

And till now 70% Indian women did not report work place sexual harassment.

If the work place remains hostile, unequal, predatory…even fewer women will work.

Dear Tavleen, Manjeet and Seema… #Metoo is a movement for Economic rights…

Women being financially independent is at the core of feminism.

How can you of all women call it elite?


And finally… women don’t care about what you call legacy…

We don’t care if MJ Akbar was once a brilliant writer…

Or Suhel Seth a brilliant brand manager.

Or Vinod Dua a brilliant host.

Or Chetan Bhagat a chart buster.

Or Jatin Das a great artist.

Or Kiran Nagarkar a beloved author.

Or Vikas Bahl a super film maker.

Or Tarun Tejpal a successful editor.

Or AIB a super funny gig.

Women do not give a toss.

Manjeet you speak of Akbar’s brilliant mind and contribution to foreign policy.

Tavleen you call Akbar flawed and ask if we should remember him as a Sexual predator or brilliant editor.

So let me answer that …

Kevin Spacey was a great actor.

Charlie rose a great anchor.

NONE of it matters once grave charges of sexual misconduct and abuse surface.

Flawed is consensual affairs … Harassment… assault… abuse…THAT is a crime…

Dear Tavleen Manjeet and Seema,

You may have had to fight harder than millennial women…and maybe that’s why you are angry.

But if you can’t support women in this stirring #Metoo moment…

At least stop making excuses for men facing grave allegations…

Don’t let women down.

Dear Tavleen, Manjeet and Seema: Why?

(Originally published in ThePrint, India. Reopublished here with permission.)

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