Has the #MeToo movement gone too far?

Has the #MeToo movement gone too far?

Gone too far?

We haven’t even begun yet! And this isn’t a sarcastic answer of the type that is in vogue these days. People saying that this movement has gone ‘too far’ are way off base. The kind of responses to this question are shocking, to say the least.

Mostly, the arguments against the #metoo movement are as below:

  • Women can just file any allegation against anyone, and it is too easy to just name anyone without any basis.
  • Because of such careless allegations, the entire lives of people accused are destroyed, and they are shamed and ridiculed
  • Most women are speaking up now just because they want to gain some cheap publicity because otherwise their career was doomed.

I am not joking: I sincerely examined these points. But, I can say with confidence that all these points are baseless.

The rest of this answer talks about evidence in support of my assertion. To do that, I actually picked the list of names of men accused in the #metoo wave in recent times, and look at whether the above ‘concerns’ hold true.

Accusation #1: Women are speaking without evidence

Okay, so this assertion is so freaking common in the anti-metoo brigade that they somehow think that they are the judges. Let’s clear some misconceptions:

  1. First, no evidences are necessary to raise an allegation. I will repeat what I said: one does not need to have an evidence to raise an allegation.
  2. Second: in criminal cases, it is not the job of the accuser to bring the evidences. It is the job of the police. Did you hear what I just said? It is not on the accuser to find out the evidences, it is on the police. Therefore, people going on and on about the alleged ‘lack of evidence’ and thus attacking the victims are clearly off base.
  3. Third, and quite important: lack of evidence does not automatically make an allegation false. Point is: if you claim that the lady is lying, you need to give evidence for it. In other words, if she alleges that another man harassed her, we must examine the evidence before punishing him. However, if there is no evidence then it does not automatically mean that she is a liar. Accusing her of being a liar is an accusation that youare making, without evidence.

Having given all the above disclaimers, let us look at the evidences available in the case of various people accused in the #MeToo movement. Allegations against M.J. Akbar date back decades and from multiple different unrelated sources. One woman also claims that she has an email trail on which M.J. Akbar had even replied. The case against Nana Patekar, on the other hand, was already filed in 2008 but no action was taken. There are videos of his political goons thrashing Tanushree. Further, Rajat Kapoor actually agreed to having made a mistake and apologised. Prashant Jha was accused by almost 11 women.

The other evidences are also going to emerge from the cases filed in the court. And, make no mistake: nobody accused has been punished by the court without sufficient evidence. Let me repeat it: nobody has been punished without evidence. Give me the name of one person who is judged guilty by the court or punished simply because the woman filed a sexual harassment case against him? Not one!

So what is all this fuss about, exactly?

And just in case it isn’t clear, let me repeat it againthe person making the accusation does not have to bring the evidence for conviction. That is the job of the police and the authorities. So, shut up with all the nonsense about ‘show me the evidence’. That’s not how it works. Also, people asking for evidence on social media are already assuming that they are the judge of what is right and what is not.

As far as police complaints are concerned, here’s the thing: police complaints have already been filed against Nana Patekar, Vikas Bahl, M.J. Akbar, and several other journalists blamed in metoo. In case some police complaints are not filed, no legal action can be taken against them. So, again, what’s the fuss about?

The misconception is that people cannot make an allegation unless they have an evidence first. This is bullshit. No evidences are required to make an allegation. However, false allegations are separately punishable.

If someone feels that an allegation has been made against them with a malafide intention, they have the right to file a suit for defamation or slander, which many people have done. Lots of people accused in the wave of metoo, have filed their own police complaints against the person making the allegation.

So, tell me, what’s the problem?

Accusation #2: This is destroying lives of innocent men

Wait, this is an exaggeration that will stand out in the list of exaggerations. How exactly have the lives of these people been ‘destroyed’? M.J. Akbar is still a minister in the central government. Nana Patekar is still a film actor with no visible damage done to his reputation, except perhaps bad gossiping which shouldn’t be new for film stars. Vikas Bahl was merely outed from the direction of a couple of movies — it’s not like that’s the end of the world.

In fact, this isn’t the first time that people lost their jobs over petty things. Even if we assume that this is all a lie (and that is a big thing to assume at this point), then what happened with Vikas Bahl is clearly unfortunate.

But that is not uncommon, you know! When it was accused that Maggi is unsafe to eat, a lot of people stopped buying the product. However, when it was tested later it was found that Maggi is perfectly safe. There was a rumour that Snapchat CEO called India a poor country and the people of this nation lost their shit, and went ahead to downvote the app and uninstall it.

This happens even in private lives of people. When that pestering aunt sees you with a girl, she’s telling everyone that you’re having an affair. Everyone is judging everyone else. We are all judgmental assholes. It’s a sad reality of life. We also freak out at times. I don’t deny it’s not wrong.

But the point is: this is not the fault of the movement itself. There is plenty wrong with the society and I’m all up for a discussion about that on a fine evening over a cup of tea. But, to say that the #MeToo movement is responsible for the judgmental nature of the society, is bullshit.

At this note, I’d like to explain an important point.

I’m sure we all will agree that sexual harassment must stop. If you disagree with this basic premise, fuck off. But, if not, you may continue.

Having agreed that sexual harassment is a menace that needs to stop, what is the best way to make sure that it happens and that the victims get their justice due while the perpetrators are punished? The most important factor is that we need to encourage women to come forward.

So, the process is this:

  1. Women should be encouraged to come forward.
  2. Society should stop being a judgmental bitch.
  3. Police should investigate and find evidences
  4. Court should examine and provide justice.

The #MeToo movement is addressing the first point. The other three issues are also problems that remain to be solved.

But what’s happening currently is that the people are using the other three problems to say that the #MeToo movement is wrong.

  • To say that the metoo movement is wrong because the lives of innocent men might be destroyed is like saying, “society is a judgmental bitch, so women should not come forward”. No, it makes no sense. Women make allegations. The rest is not in their hands. If the society is quick to judge people guilty, it’s not the fault of these womenThe society should wait for the court verdict, but that does not mean that women should not speak up. You cannot accuse the women if lives of these men are destroyed. It’s not on them, it’s on the society.
  • To say that the metoo movement is wrong because the people making the allegation are not providing the evidence is also wrong. Because, like I said, it’s the job of the police and other investigating agencies. If these investigating agencies fail at this job, it’s not the fault of the women. If, however, these women do not file police complaints, no punishment is given to the accused persons. They are not responsible for public opinion.

Saying those things is a classic example of straw-man argument.

Those advocating for metoo movement are not saying that every accused person should be judged to be guilty by default (and, guess what, no court is punishing these people unless there is an evidence! I keep repeating this point because it’s quite important).

Hence, saying that we should not support this movement because people believe an allegation without an evidence is a classic case of putting the blame in the wrong place. Straw-man.

Accusation #3: Women are doing it for cheap publicity

I humbly submit that this accusation is untenable because what these women are getting in return for speaking up is,

  1. Not cheap, and
  2. Not publicity.

It’s not cheap because almost every metoo allegation has been met by a counter-suit filed by the accused person for defamation. That is an extra court case for these women to handle. These women do not have access to high cost advocates, and neither do they have the muscle power to face the resistance which will come inevitably.

Further, it’s not cheap also because there is a substantial chance that some of them might have to keep fighting their own cases (in addition to the counter-suit) for multiple years before justice is delivered. On top of that, they have to make a conscious choice to go through years of torment of being a subject of public scrutiny.

And more importantly, there is no publicity.

M.J. Akbar was accused by almost a dozen women. Now, be honest with yourself and tell me if you can even recall the names of all these women. Can you? Nobody knows these women, and nothing matters about these women except the fact that they accused M.J. Akbar.

What new films did Tanushree get because of this allegation? In what tangible way has she benefited? What did Ruth David gain from the allegation? What did Saba Naqvi gain from the metoo allegation? What about Suparna Sharma? What about Neha Gupta? What about Avantika Mehta?

You see, these women are so anonymous you didn’t even notice that I made up one of these names. In fact, tell me which of these women accused which person in the #MeToo movement. Can you?

All this talk of cheap publicity is bullshit.

Then there are answers who are freaking out about what will happen if this movement goes ‘too far’. Nonsense of another level, really.

Here’s the deal:

The entire point of this campaign is to encourage women to speak up. And to not normalise the culture surrounding sexual harassment.

My wife told me a very simple thing last week. She remembered the time when she used to go for car driving class and that male teacher used to touch her in inappropriate places, and she didn’t have the courage to tell her father because she thought that something was wrong with her. And now when she shared it with her sister, she got to know that her sister had faced the exact same problem with the exact same man, and she too didn’t have the courage to tell anyone, because she too had thought that it was her fault.

Go ahead and judge my wife, and tell me she was a coward. But you know what? MeToo has encouraged her to finally begin to see that it was not her fault, and that this is not normal, and that she should have shared it with others.

MeToo is a show of solidarity, of hope, of positive change. Every attempt at subverting the major point of this movement by attacking the peripherals (such as that the society being a judgmental bitch) is wrong.

MeToo has encouraged a mentality that sexual harassment is not normal, it is not acceptable, and cannot be brushed aside. I know there are plenty of other women out there who are wondering if they should speak up too. It’s only time before she makes up her mind and says, me too!

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