Harassment, Manipulation and Blackmail – The Price To Pay For The Arts

The allegations against High Spirits, one of India’s most well-known performance venues, are the most recent of a slew of steps people are taking to show their intolerance for sexual harassment in the workplace. While #MeToo has been trending all over social media to raise awareness for sexual harassment, the age-old sentiment of “You were asking for it” remains. Solidarity seems to be deserved by everyone but the ones working in the movie industry and otherwise “liberal” professions, because “That’s what they signed up for.” And there are people who are simply not standing for the blatant double standards and hypocrisy.

Cases of people using their position and power to get what they want aren’t new in the movie industry. Earlier this year, the formation of a women’s collective to battle sexism in the Malayalam movie industry, and the infamous SuchiLeaks, which alleged that people were given roles and higher pay for going along with lewd demands, both brought to forefront the discussion of what really went behind the curtain of glamour covering the movie industry.

More recently, on the other end of the globe, accusations of sexual harrassment against Hollywood film producer Harvey Weinstein have been piling up, including incidents of women who had abandoned their dreams of acting and fled the industry thanks to his predatory behavior. Other names have also been called out, most notably Ben Affleck for groping a TRL host’s breasts on television back in 2003.

Nevertheless, there’s always been a certain gap between the movie industry and regular life that allowed for complacency. But a few days ago, twitter user @weeny opened up about the misogyny that went on at High Spirits, Pune’s most-patronized bar.

High Spirits Shenna twitter thread

Admist the other anecdotes surfacing about High Spirits, ex-employee Divya released a full blown account of the abuse she faced while she worked there. Here’s a whole compilation of all the things that’s been said about High Spirits, the owner, and their beloved patrons till now.

This really hits home, and not just because High Spirits is a bar that any Tom, Dick or Harry could walk into. High Spirits is a venue, one of the places that was key in faciliating the growth of the independent music and arts scene over the past decade. Luckily, the beauty of an independent scene is that it’s a community, not an industry. New faces appear and people move on to bigger things everyday, but the community stays. The artists, the venues, the platforms, the consumers, it takes all our hands to clap. So now comes the time when we must ask ourselves: what kind of community do we want to build?

Even well-known personalities are starting to speak out and take a stand.

And all the while, High Spirits continues to maintain its silence.

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