Despite The Karan Oberoi Case, A #MenToo Movement Is Still A Ridiculous Idea!
If you are even remotely connected to the internet, or are active on social media, you would know who Karan Oberoi is. And no, we don’t mean for you to recognize him as an alleged rapist, but someone on account of whom, the nation can be seen shifting towards a movement called the #MenToo movement. Similar to what was, or rather is, the #MeToo movement, this one suggests protecting men, who might find themselves being slapped with controversies and fake allegations in light of the movement.
The Karan Oberoi trial took us to the depths of the ‘inconvenience’ that men claim is plaguing their kind – misrepresentation and misuse of power. The actor, at present is facing a trial for rape allegations made against him by a woman. Before the case went to trial and the bail plea began, Karan was already ranked a rapist. It was only when the proceedings took place, that facts surfaced about how it could all be a well-fabricated yet poorly executed plan to ‘destroy him’. During the bail pleas, Oberoi’s defense argued as to how the woman “was obsessive about him…” and was in a fit to destroy the actor’s career.
The woman, that is an astrologer, according to Karan, had “a notion that she knew Oberoi from a previous birth and was destined to marry him in this life”. And the actor was “fed up” of “her obsession” to further deny her claims that he ever promised or had the intention of marrying her. All of this, supported with the messages exchanged between the two, led us and a close friend of the accused, Pooja Bedi to wonder: do we really need a #MenToo movement now?
Pooja Bedi, in her bid to initiate such a movement, was quoted saying, “Last year activists Barkha Trehan and Amit Deshpande alerted me to the overwhelming number of men being subjected to fake cases of sexual harassment. For decades I have stood up for women’s rights because it was important. However, with the increasing misuse of laws by women its become askewed. I am pro-women not anti-men. I believe in equality. Equal laws. Equal justice. Equal punishment.”
Upon first look, or rather first read, the thought does seem compelling, but do we really need a nationwide movement in place? This on the off chance that a few men get caught up in a well-spun and manipulated lie and have to face undue duress? Yes, that sounds unfair and critical, and in all accounts must be looked into, perhaps more closely by the judiciary. But talking about taking it up as a phenomenon to protect the men is too radical, careless and absolutely unnecessary!
Think about it, it took years of struggle to empower women to come forward and voice out the harassment they’ve been subject to, let alone take action against it. On the daily, even after the launch and progress of the movement, there remain cases of sexual misconduct that never see the light of day. In a time like this, when the fear of not being heard, is only just being addressed, to snatch it away and reinstate the word of those who’re part responsible for furthering the misogyny, is to make a mockery out of feminism and equality of the sexes.
— IBT_IN Entertainment (@IBTimesIND_Ent) May 22, 2019
In a similar vein, Tanushree Dutta, the flag bearer for the #MeToo Movement in India came forward to discredit the idea of a #MenToo movement and stated, “I would like to caution the Indian public and media against rendering their ungirdled support to the #MenToo movement that seeks to protect the claims that innocent men are being framed by so-called evil women with a vendetta. Some people with clearly vested interests are trying to start in India a revolution that can further endanger the status of the women and child victims of harassment and sexual crimes.”
The #MeToo Movement united survivors to speak up against their assaulters and consequently unveiled a number of powerful men who have abused their power to a point of sexual misconduct and rape. The ones that were guilty were thrashed in the public and legislative eye, meanwhile the ones that were innocent squirmed in their shoes and went into their hiding holes.
There is no denying, that during the process, there have been men (a piddly number in comparison to the women who’ve been subject to rape and assault, though) who were cast aside as collateral damage. Because, yes we are averse to the idea of women ever being in that position to collude, manipulate and sexually assault a man, or another woman, that the thought doesn’t even seem sensible, let alone a reality. Of course women don’t do such things – grope, coerce, talk dirty, rape.. it is only a ‘guy’ thing, right?
— Kaneez Surka (@kaneezsurka) October 10, 2018
So when a handful of women, who are in fact banking on this opportunity of playing the victim to get the upper hand over the guy, misused the #MeToo movement, the inherently misogynistic society we live in quickly jumped at the opportunity of turning things against women in general, suspecting all women of being manipulative and exploitative.
I understand, the recent turn of events have led to a reality of automatic rubbishing of the guys (sometimes even the decent ones), turning some (and I use the term broadly here) of the men into silent victims of these cultural clichés by taking every woman for her word, when she talks about rape. And, while we do not dismiss the idea that women too, when in power, have the ability to misuse it, we also refuse to blind ourselves to the fact that initiating a movement like #MenToo would mean an immediate collapse of the #MeToo movement.
If it were a perfect world, enabling one of the two sexes, would never come at the cost of disabling the other. Hell, if we were living in a perfect world, there would be no need to enable either, hoping the balance would’ve been already present as opposed to having to be restored. But, because this is a crooked and imperfect world we live in, the idea of neglecting a dialogue as strong as the one initiated by the #MeToo movement, is too dangerous.
We must understand that our war is not against men, it is against a system of patriarchy. And the only way to overturn that system is by giving voice to the ones who have been stripped off of it for decades. To offer to embolden a movement like #MenToo, even in the best of circumstances and with the purest of intentions would mean to take away that voice and replace it with the fear of being called fraudulent.
And that is exactly the point Tanushree Dutta tried to make when she spoke about dismissing the motion and said, “It takes tremendous courage and boldness to face stigma to make an accusation against a man in our society for a woman hence making a movement such as #men too can potentially embolden real harassers, molesters and rapists and their supporters into forming organizations to shield themselves from the law and justice. Also, the ratio of men to women in our country is skewed in the male’s favour by hundreds of millions. This is due to female infanticide and preferential male baby practises in our nation which despite the law are still carried out. Dowry torture and killings are happening at alarming rates and so is harassment, rapes, gang rapes and molestation due to several factors. Under such circumstances empowering the already skewed patriarchy and corrupt male-dominated society could spell trouble and disaster in the future for whistleblowers, journalists, social workers and female complainants.”
— Sandhya Mridul (@sandymridul) October 10, 2018
As feminists, our idea should be to elevate women to a state of equality between the two sexes and not turn the movement, whose basic aim was to enable the women, into a witch hunt against the men, where they’re believed to be guilty of what they’re accused of even before they’re tried for it. There is no contest that men’s interest, their identity, their truth needs as much protection as that of women, and supporting that doesn’t make either of us anti-feminists, but in fact enablers of the very same equality we so aspire to spread. Nevertheless, that need not happen through means of a movement that pities men for being sidelined or victimised. What we need is to work towards a stronger and stricter judicial system that looks into the matter, without gender bias and takes it forward in a fair manner, not giving men the shelter and armour they need to dismiss accountability altogether.
Don’t get us wrong here, we aren’t anti-men when we talk about the #MenToo Movement being unnecessary, but just cautious and driven women, who know the kind of cost at which such change has finally descended. Enough number of women have been harassed, molested, raped and murdered to get to a point when the words spoken out of a woman’s mouth are taken seriously and there is no reason strong enough to overturn that.
Yes, the word of a woman need not be the final verdict, and we don’t hope for that either. We stand by a strong, just and fair trial, but as long as a woman’s expression is not condescended by suppression, not all hope is lost. The idea is to not stand against each other, but with each other, to win a war that is more than just a man vs woman duel. It is to support what is right and deliver to the future generations what we owe them, a better world. There has been enough sacrifice, now let there be justice!