March 12: An anonymous post accused TVF founder Arunabh Kumar of sexual harassment. Now, unless you’re living under a rock, you’ve read all about the scandal—the reactions, the multiple allegations, quotes from everyone that matters and from everyone that wants to matter. The last time a subject got so much discourse was in 2012, when we thought the world was ending. To be fair, for some people, the world might be ending now.
To sum up, everyone is talking about it and it might, pardon the irony, be the most “viral” thing The Viral Fever has ever produced.
I’m not going to delve into the multiple allegations from over six females associated with TVF. Neither am I going to pass a judgment, because I lack the ruthlessness and arrogance required to doubt six ladies who have gathered all their courage to recall a humiliating incident and put their careers on the line. I’m not even going to delve into sexual harassment in our country, because it is about as shocking as a cow in the middle of our roads. Walk up to any Indian woman and ask her about men making her feel uncomfortable; she’ll have a story from that same day. Instead, we’re going to focus on how various people reacted to this sensitive controversy.
Let’s look at what was said and what should’ve been said, because it seemed like TVF’s content team is also its PR team and all they’ve come up with are jokes. Let’s go through some gems.
WHAT WAS SAID: I am a heterosexual single man, and when I find a woman sexy, I tell her she’s sexy.
WHAT SHOULD’VE BEEN SAID: Every single straight man isn’t creepy, so I’m not going to generalise. When I’m at work I don’t look at women as objects of my sexual needs. When I do find a woman at work sexy I shut up and feel guilty, because it’s an office not a bar, the woman is a colleague and judging her by her sex appeal is gender-based discrimination. Furthermore, as a boss I must recognise the power dynamic that makes the women feel that saying no to me is like saying no to their job. In conclusion, I’m sorry.
2. Amit Golani
WHAT WAS SAID: Utter nonsense and false claims on an ‘Anonymous’ post. There has been no such person existing from muzaffarpur working at TVF.
WHAT SHOULD’VE BEEN SAID: An unverified article commented on us? Instead of dismissing her, we will check internally and confirm that our sexual harassment policies are in check.
WHAT WAS SAID: For a company that specially champions and has a woman-centric channel, Girliyapa, it’s disheartening to see people question our culture.
WHAT SHOULD’VE BEEN SAID: Making feminist content for views has nothing to do with my company’s founder allegedly being a molester.
3. Nidhi Bisht
WHAT WAS SAID:
WHAT SHOULD’VE BEEN SAID:
At least one TVF member had a self-realisation.
4. TVF Apologists
WHAT WAS SAID: Anonymous accuser is lying. Non-anonymous accusers want publicity. Why were you silent for so long?
WHAT SHOULD’VE BEEN SAID: Our human quality of empathy makes us realise that some girls wouldn’t want to be known for this because taking on such a giant in the field affects their life and career. Other companies who lack are also afraid of hiring whistle-blowers, so the females speaking up must be appreciated, anonymous or not.
This is the worst form of publicity; they are victims, and accusing them of faking is the worst form of victim blaming. This is why most harassment cases in our country remain unreported. They were silent for so long because it takes courage to fight against a system that has historically been against you. You get the courage to speak out when you see other people doing the same.
Let us not make irresponsible comments and ensure that there is proper investigation.
WHAT WAS SAID: We will leave no stone unturned to find the author of the article and bring them to severe justice for making such false allegations. It is our humble request that you do not share an unsubstantiated, unverified and anonymous article such as this.
WHAT SHOULD’VE BEEN SAID: We will not dismiss an allegation on the grounds of it being unverified, but instead use it as an opportunity to make a thorough internal investigation. We assure the public of our sexual harassment policies and welcome the author to come out without any fear. Instead of focusing our energies on punishing the victim, we will try to ensure “severe justice” for the oppressor. In that endeavour, it is our humble request that anyone with any information on the matter come out and helps us in our investigation to help TVF remain a women-friendly environment.
TLDR; This is how to respond to allegations even while denying them.