This week's Tonight with HSY ended on a sour note, for me at least.
Designer Hassan Sheheryar Yasin's weekly celebrity chat show featured popular RJs Khalid Malik, Ali Safina and Dino Ali on the latest episode.
On the show HSY asked his guests about their opinions on two issues we're currently grappling with: sexual harassment, in light of the Meesha Shafi-Ali Zafar case, controversy at Patari and several others; and nepotism, which has been a hot debate across the border and resurfaced when Shah Rukh Khan's daughter Suhana was featured on Vogue India's magazine this month.
Speaking on where they individually stand on the #MeToo issue, FM91 RJ Khalid Malik said that it is a reality worldwide and must be addressed, and if it's not then we're being "irresponsible" and making a "grave mistake".
"Before people didn't have a voice, the common man had nowhere to go; who can he go to? Now social media exists so if it is being utilised then I think it's a good thing," he said.
His colleague, Ali Safina said that these issues need to be discussed at an early age in order to educate children.
He also said, "It's not just a women's issue, it also a men's issue - a lot of men might also be dealing with this problem. So until and unless it becomes acceptable to talk about these topics, till people come forward and share their stories" till then we can't come to a solution.
Dino addressed the issue last and agreed with what his fellow RJs had to say on the topic. However, he added his two cents to the matter.
"One thing I absolutely love about the women in my family is that they are very outspoken. If anyone even dares speak or do anything as such, they will immediately call that person out. Yes, society makes comments, but please raise your voice, please do not wait for a certain time or a certain moment. If something bad happens to you or someone is doing something bad, punish that person and hold them accountable at that very moment. Don't think about what will or will not happen, show to the other person that this with me is unacceptable, this will not happen."
Dino rounded off his statement by pointing blame at the victims.
"More than the offender it is the oppressed who are gunnaygar [culpable]. Why are you letting yourself be oppressed? What is the problem? Don't stand for it."
Did Dino just victim blame? Yes, he did.
Is victim-blaming ever okay? No, it is not.
Here's an open letter to the RJ so he can figure out why his statement is problematic:
Dino, I understand that you may not fully comprehend sexual harassment because you may not have firsthand experience of being harassed. But if you felt compelled to give a statement addressing victims of harassment, I wished you left your privilege and ignorance at the door.
Because in situations like harassment or assault there is a power dynamic at play. Here's what it looks like:
Persecutor = empowered
Oppressed = dis-empowered
When you say that the blame lies on the oppressed for not stopping the assault and asking why they're allowing such a thing to take place, you're saying that the oppressed is the one who holds the power and is enabling the persecution, when in fact it is the persecutor who usurps the power and holds the reigns in the relationship dynamic - making it an unbalanced one.
This usually happens when the persecutor knows that they have the power to oppress the other individual through emotional, mental or physical means. Sometimes it's in different forms of blackmail, sometimes the prosecutor is a relation, and sometimes the oppressed has no form of support system, which is why they choose to remain silent.
And let's not forget the major factor most victims don't come forward in these situations: fear. As the persecutor holds the power, the oppressed lives in a constant state of fear and anxiety trying to keep the self safe by complying.
While you mention the bravery and fearlessness of the women in your family, you neglect to acknowledge that not all women enjoy the same privilege, the same support and the same mental and emotional strength as them. While bravery is a great trait to have when faced with such situations, you should note that a host of different factors may prevent a victim from coming forward. It is not simply a lack of courage.
Some people, however, have braved the consequences of speaking up and done so. They are from your industry, like Ayesha Omar and Momina Mustehsan, who have emphasised that they felt helpless in their situation, so much so that Ayesha admits she still doesn't have the strength to name her harasser.
So the next time you feel that it is the victim's fault for not standing up, know that some people are powerless in situations and it's not always as easy as calling someone out.
Till then you should also probably rectify your statement and apologise to the countless #MeToo victims you've offended - because I am one of them.