I saw a post on Facebook this week that said “ the fact that there’s no memes posted on the AIB Facebook and Insta pages in the last 2 weeks makes me laugh more than their actual memes.” The reason they’ve been on this hiatus, incidentally, might just be their most significant contribution to the community. The allegations against Utsav Chakraborty and Gursimran Khamba and the subsequent action taken against them (and Tanmay Bhat) have inspired a resurgence of the #metoo movement in India. The movement has been more far-reaching this time around than when it originally started trending in 2017
Unsurprisingly, the conversation is being desperately interrupted by people lamenting about how dangerous it is to be a man in the present environment. “Where do we draw the line? We can’t even make jokes now?” In India, the ‘line’ is pretty clear; the Vishakha guidelines – which was superseded by the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013 – lays out what exactly constitutes sexual harassment. Sexual harassment is not just physical. It is not necessarily a single incident, it might arise out of a pattern of behaviour. It could also be described as any humiliating conduct that may constitute a health and safety problem.
If 23 women accuse you of inappropriate sexual conduct, the recommended course of action is to sue one of them for defamation. The general response many men (and some women) now express on social media is that the movement is going too far. While there is some merit to the argument that there is ‘degree’ of sleaziness and not all inappropriate acts are equally bad, this does not change the fact that they’re all examples of deplorable conduct. The general sentiment that ‘accusations are going too far’ begs the question, if the accusations are ‘going too far,’ what about the actual assault and harassment? How can the fear of being falsely accused by people who probably hold no stakes be equal to the constant fear for one’s safety at the outdoors, workplace, and even home? Of course men could be falsely accused, but how is that the primary concern when one influential man after the other is admitting to the horrific acts they were able to do without the slightest of legal repercussions or ‘harm to reputation?’ How does one find it so easy to be threatened by a movement whose aim is to simply make people accountable for the wrongs they’ve done? As India glows brighter than ‘NASA observing Diwali from space’ on the Google #MeToo map, we must take cognizance of how deep rooted this problem is in our country and make sure we focus on the right aspects of it.
There is considerable hue and cry about how accusations ruin men’s lives. The fact that a celebrity personality accused by multiple women of inappropriate conduct, who despite having been caught on tape bragging about how he gets away with sexual harassment sits in the Oval Office is evidence enough to the contrary. Women are accused of making false accusations for fame, but as Trevor Noah says, it’s not like we remember the accusers of Bill Cosby as much as we remember his actions. To go back to the AIB example we started with, it is not the accusers gaining traction, it is just the accused being made accountable for what they’ve done. A woman has very little to gain by speaking up against someone, especially someone influential. There is a lot she could lose by taking that decision, her life included.
The sister of the Kerala nun, who accused Bishop Franco Mulakkal of rape, have alleged threats against her family by his relatives.
The nun’s sister has sent a petition to the Kerala director general of police, Kottayam superintendent of police and Kalady circle inspector, alleging that she and her family are receiving life threats and require protection. (Hindustan Times)
The fact that we live in a world where people can turn a blind eye to attempted rape in order to get someone who supports their agenda into a position of power should be enough for us to realise this is not some twisted popularity drive by individuals looking for revenge or attention. Brett Kavanaugh will most probably be the deciding vote that takes overturns Roe v Wade to take away abortion rights in the USA. Clearly, ‘accusations’ haven’t ruined his life.
I’ve run the risk of mansplaining harassment against women because it is important to get this message across: in a sexist society, it isn’t enough to not be sexist, it is important we be anti-sexist.