No, #MeToo is not just a movement for the urban elite. Many issues, from net neutrality to privacy to sexual harassment, are dismissed by a section of the commentariat, who argue that these are questions that the “real” India is not asking. However, a visualisation by Google, created earlier this year as the MeToo movement grew in strength in the US, can help users see who is searching for “me too” in India. The answer, it turns out, is pretty much everyone.
Me Too rising is a visualisation of Google Trends data, which shows the top cities searching for ‘Me Too’ around the world, and puts a light on them to demonstrate where the most number of people are searching about the movement. There are lights scattered around the world, but there isn’t any part of India that isn’t lit up right now—it looks like those fake NASA photos of India on Diwali, and shows that no matter where you are in India right now, people want to know more about ‘Me Too’.
It’s a beautiful visualisation that highlights the incredible power of the moment we’re living through, and should make anyone calling this an urban phenomenon rethink.
Over the past week, we’ve seen a number of women bravely speaking out against men in positions of power, and creating a real impact. While there has been some impact, in other cases, the men named have issued denials and moved on unaffected. BJP minister and former journalist MJ Akbar has now filed a defamation case against one of his accusers, and plenty of columns have been written in support of these men as well.
On Sunday, columnist Tavleen Singh wrote an article titled Why I am not MeToo, where she argues that MeToo “unfairly smears the reputation of her friend Suhel Seth” (accused by at least four separate women, including a minor), while doing nothing to improve the “terrible lot of ordinary Indian women.”
In response to Singh’s tweet on the same lines, earlier in the week, a 20-year-old woman from Uttarakhand shared an experience anonymously on Twitter. She wrote about being molested in her village as an 8-year-old, and how she’s still scared to speak out today. She wrote, “I just wanted to put my story out there. I wish to keep my identity a secret… I just wanted to say #metoo.”
“And would you please tell Tavleen mam that this #metoo is helping us RURAL people to share our stories too… We are very thankful to this movement,” she wrote.
It’s noteworthy that the top cities listed on Google’s site aren’t Delhi or Mumbai or Bengaluru. Instead, you’ll see Chicalim in Goa, Bhusawal in Maharashtra, Zirakpur in Punjab, and Bhanwreli and Rajnandgaon in Chattisgarh.
Google had created this visualisation from Google Search Trends in April this year, when the Me Too movement was still very strong in the US, but it tracks searches around the world and according to Google, in the past year, MeToo has been searched for in 195 countries—every country on the planet.
Writing on the Google Blog, Malika Saada Saar, Google’s senior counsel on civil and human rights, wrote: “With Google Trends, we now have data to reflect the power of those collective voices—we can see how far-reaching this movement has become. Me Too Rising shows what it looks like when we all become a little more aware of sexual assault and violence. When enough survivors speak up, the world not only listens; it searches for answers.”
Although Google India did not comment on the matter, it shared more trends data, showing that searches are coming from all over India. The interest by region is highest in Nagaland, but Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh have also been searching a lot for this, and so have Karnataka and Maharastra. ‘metoo india’ is the leading breakout term, although a lot of people are—predictably enough—looking for celebrities named in the movement, such as Alok Nath and Sajid Khan.