hindu college debate

DU Debating Circuit’s #MeToo Movement

A #MeToo movement in Delhi University’s debating circuit has left predators within its midst scurrying for cover as victims narrate their agonising ordeal and anxiety-inducing tales of woe.

A tumultuous stir has been ignited within the confines of University of Delhi’s debating circuit microcosm, with a multitude of female debaters coming to the fore with the unparalleled gumption to narrate tales of egregious sexual assault or harassment, inflicted on them by those who for far too long thrived on the social capital and hegemony extended to them by a circuit that fawned at their debating finesse. It is a stir that was long overdue, and was brewing for far too long before it shoved the entirety of the circuit into a cataclysmic tailspin.

The debating circuit’s #MeToo movement, reminiscent to the one spurred in Hollywood that ultimately led to the toppling of disgraced media mogul Harvey Weinstein, posits itself as a watershed moment for an activity that debaters have cherished since antiquity, but what soon devolved into a regressive and toxic cesspool teeming with predators, who reigned with tacit acceptance. The circuit’s #MeToo movement ousted several predators within its midst, while waging a protracted battle against misogyny, sexism, and crass libertine tendencies, using the medium of PD Confessions, a Facebook page which allows users to post anonymously.

At this juncture, it is evident that debating tournaments nonchalantly remain impervious to the concerns expressed by female debaters. The grouse of conducting tournaments on time is yet to be taken cognisance of, as was evident by the fiasco that transpired at KMC’s abruptly-scrapped tournament. Female debaters are left to fend off for themselves at odd hours as tournaments come to a delayed close. Perverts aren’t the only impediments female debaters have to deal with, for concerned parents often view debating with a specter of doubt, given how delayed tournaments proceed.

Another bone of contention that arises at this juncture is the paucity of female representation in the core committees of coeducational institutions’ societies, a jarring dearth that manifests hideously when one observes the preponderance of men in core committees. On account of this, various concerns emanating from the female bastions are either smothered or shirked nonchalantly, a myopic decision which resulted in a significant abatement in female participation.

This has led to the vicarious festering of a sanctimonious temperament within the debating rooms, with men being
accused of mellifluously defending motions on feminism while exuding an abominable insensitivity to the plight
of female debaters, especially in terms of not obviating despicable verbal and non-verbal cues. It’s quite intriguing to
note that the scathing denunciation of the hunky-dory nature of debating has further been vindicated by the
disingenuous and snarky manner in which certain accused individuals chose to respond to the allegations, with calumny and gaslighting being the tropes that were resorted to.

Specific measures that require incorporation into the mainstream include stripping the accused of their achievements, actively initiating a dialogue with debaters on consent, apprising debaters on what constitutes as misconduct and harassment, and enacting measures to prop up a
grievance cell within debating societies and during tournaments to provide recourse to the aggrieved. With the
passage of time, more retributive measures such as seeking legal counsel and lodging formal complaints with
the proper authorities can be looked into.
While the gradual incorporation of these deterrent norms has certainly been bolstered by the #MeToo movement within the circuit, whether these revelations would have any profound impact on the abominable psyche prevalent within the confines of debating rooms is yet to be gauged.

Feature Image Credits: DU Beat

Adeel Shams
adeels@dubeat.com




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