The DMK party and its chief MK Stalin has, on February 24, come under severe criticism for inviting #MeToo accused Vairamuthu as the chief guest for the event, ‘Thalapathy Thalaivar Mudhalvar’, held in Chennai in support of Stalin’s candidature as the chief minister.
Criticising the white-washing of poet and lyricist Vairamuthu, popular playback singer and dubbing artist Chinmayi Sripaada tweeted, “Politicians in Tamil Nadu repeatedly, openly associate with Mr Vairamuthu - their show of solidarity with him a pompous display, his ‘open secret’ of a reputation notwithstanding. The Bro-Code. And they ask me - “why so late?””
Sripaada was among the several women from the South Indian film industry — who were sexually harassed by the national award-winning lyricist — to make a few shocking revelations during the #MeToo movement in 2018. A year later in 2019, Vairamuthu challenged the women to approach the court, “The allegations being made against me are absolutely false,” he said.
Poet and author Meena Kandasamy came in support of Sripaada and questioned the DMK for inviting a sexual harasser. “This is a question for the DMK to introspect. Why ruin Stalin's legacy of dedicated political work by letting a tainted abuser chair the meeting? Shouldn't DMK have taken the utmost care and caution making sure there's not even the shadow of a controversy? (sic)” she wrote.
“I want the DMK to win, like everyone who is anti-BJP. One expects them to be feminist, progressive, Periyarist. But what's happening here (platforming Vairamuthu, making him preside) over an event to honour MK Stalin doesn't even make the slightest political or logical sense,” she added.
The #MeToo movement was celebrated by many as a way to name and shame powerful men who in the past got away with impunity because of their hold in the public sphere.
The movement was less about the legal recourse and more about naming and shaming the famous so that they steer clear from the position of power.
The movement points to the fragility of gender politics in India. The DMK incident is another proof of how #MeToo is a political failure. It disrespects and makes a mockery of women like Sripaada who face harassment and decide to speak up.
She was even ousted from the South Indian Cine Television Artist Dubbing Union (SICTADU) after she spoke against the harassment by Radha Ravi, president of Dubbing Union.
Even after struggling all these years, for speaking up, incidents like these make her a failing survivor of sexual violence.
(Edited by Amrita Ghosh)