The 'List' and the Task of Rearranging Academic Relationships

The list of sexual harassers in academia and progressive politics is an event born out of the demands for equality in the increasingly diverse Indian universities. The proliferation of new media has created new pathways of becoming political for young students and enabled their battles against cultural elitism and misogyny. There is need for a fresh debate on harassment, discrimination, and consent.

 

Whether we like it or not, the list of sexual harassers in academia (hereafter the list) was an event. It lifted the lid from the boiling kettle of pent-up anger, anguish, and pain of women who have suffered and continue to suffer sexual harassment. Even as the original list makers withdrew from active engagement, a second list by Indian Dalit–Bahujan women also appeared. Many legitimate and pertinent questions have been asked about the politics of the lists and their efficacy as a strategy. Indeed, these need to be discussed threadbare–the absence of details of harassment, or the lumping together of several kinds of injuries into one bracket, or even the limited possibilities for a future course of action. What one cannot fail to recognise is that the event laid bare the “culture” of sexual harassment in academia and among progressive political circles as never before. The slow but wide outpouring of disturbing accounts and statements by those who have taken their complaints through institutional redressal mechanisms but have failed to obtain justice, has also sparked off debates. It is undeniable that the general impunity which men in positions of power and authority enjoy—despite the rumours, whispers, and actual complaints about their behaviour—is now under the public scanner. 

Changing Terrain of the Indian University

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