Suraj Ramnath
Advertising

#MeToo: The power dynamic is clear; will things change?

Here's what some senior women said on the matter.

The #MeToo movement has gained momentum in the advertising and media industry. As allegations against more and more men surface by the day, we ask a few senior women from the media space whether they see a pattern therein and whether they believe things will really change.

Edited excerpts:

Anita Nayyar, chief executive officer, Havas Media, India and Southeast Asia

#MeToo: The power dynamic is clear; will things change?

Anita Nayyar

The patterns are the same - the one in a position of strength is stronger and undue pressure is exercised on those not in a position of strength. Women have always been projected as the weaker section and hence, more vulnerable. But today, the weaker section is appearing as stronger as they have found their voice and the guts to come out in the open. I hope things change. What has already changed is - women have found their voice and are coming out in the open fearlessly. It is a great beginning and the momentum is catching on. It is in our interest not to take any nonsense from anyone. #Metoo is leading to change, where #NoMeansNo.

Debarpita Banerjee, president - FCB Ulka, North & East

#MeToo: The power dynamic is clear; will things change?

Debarpita Banerjee

In our industry, it all starts with a sense of power and a foolish, yet dangerous sense of entitlement. So much so that one fails to even realise that the action is neither charming nor commendable. It's just plain disgusting and ironically, for the sense of power that they feel, quite desperate.

Things change when the norm is questioned and followed up with action. Both are happening. The lingo and body language that had become the norm for the industry is under heavy individual and collective scrutiny. Hereon, it is up to us women to not be 'OK' with men and their version of 'OK'. We must speak up and hit back if needed when we feel a violation. And not let it go in good humour. A simple "Hey, this is NOT OK!" will be far more effective than an embarrassed silence.

Speaking of embarrassment, the narrative of who should feel what in situations like these also needs to change. Embarrassment needs to shift to the predator instead of being thrown at the woman. Let him feel like a desperate letch, rather than a cool cowboy. And let the woman feel like a warrior, cleansing dirt that comes her way, rather than a victim.

Valerie Pinto, chief executive officer, Weber Shandwick

#MeToo: The power dynamic is clear; will things change?

Valerie Pinto

From the women's point of view, there is a positive pattern of courage. There is the realisation that 'I can speak up about this issue without fearing that I will be singled out'... On the other hand, I feel there could have been a better way to address it. It doesn't have to be on Twitter if you have followed the process of complaining. After that, if no action is taken, then you could resort to Twitter. I am not dissing the movement; people coming out online are contributing, but are not using the right route to complain.

From the men's point of view, they all are getting into a defence mechanism mode which is rather strange because they have done what they have done. They are now hiring social media companies to get into damage control mode, but are making a mess of it.

A lot has changed already; men are very scared. Among my media colleagues, no one is back-slapping any longer... Internally also, we are making things sensitive and even fun conversations have been curtailed.