#MeToo vs #MenToo: The Other Side of the Story

Image source: abc.net.au


O P I N I O N – MEN’S DAY SPECIAL


Fiana Islam


The #MeToo movement, founded by Tarana Burke back in 2006, has somehow lost its essence over time. The sole purpose of this movement was to stand against sexual violence and support the survivors at any cost. Burke first started this campaign within her community to make social changes. It later became a global issue in 2017, with the burning allegations against the famous Hollywood director and producer Harvey Weinstein. The allegations against him were — multiple assaults, rape, and verbal abuse. However, Harvey denied every “non-consensual” intimacy towards the victims (that includes many female Hollywood celebrities and non-celebrities). But later, after examining all the charges with proper evidences, he was found guilty by a jury of the criminal sexual act in the first degree, rape in the third degree, and faced legal consequences. 

Even though the #MeToo phrase has been particularly used by millions of women to share their experiences of sexual harassment, there are several unheard (or let us say, “partially heard”) stories that have arisen with time which again indicated that violation knows no gender. 

While in this post modern era, we are pretending to be too concerned over women’s rights; the other side is constantly trying to tell us a different story. By sexual violence, most of us only take the violence against women into account. The fact that we ignore is, the “stronger sex” can suffer too. By suffering, I mean the psychological and physical trauma from being a victim themselves, and also the false allegations that are imposed on some men in the name of a larger global movement. 

Behind the curtain 

Recent studies have shown that sexual harassment against men has increased worldwide in recent years; with most of the cases yet to be disclosed. But the most shocking thing is we are not just ignoring this fact, but also are hardly considering it even an “issue” to talk about. Many cases have been filed against men who allegedly performed assault — without solid evidence. For instance, the famous Depp-Heard case. Although all the phone recordings and footage were against the wife (Amber Heard), the husband was still labelled guilty, more specifically, the “wife-beater”, most significantly because he is a man.


In 2008, a similar sexual harassment case in India was filed by four women against the Indian Comedian of AIB (All India Bakchod), Utsav Chakraborty — following the #MeToo movement. As a result, without hearing the entire story, the media and public banned AIB. The allegations were made based on the statements of those four women, but Chakraborty had repeatedly denied the charges as he claimed those were “consensual”, and after a few years (as previously he did not have enough evidence in his defense), he shared some incidents between them on Twitter. When the accusers were asked about the issue by the media, three of them stuck to their point and one remained silent.


The final twist came when Chakraborty posted some of the original versions of the edited screenshots — presented by the accusers against him where the whole narrative overlapped. Out of the public rage, one of the accusers finally admitted that it was not “intentional”, and added,

“I just forgot. I am sorry. How my memory lapses have changed the narrative completely!”

Though this does not prove anything completely, the question certainly remained — even if that man was innocent, would he have gotten back his lost honour? 

Marginalising the majority 

Sadly, sexual molestation has turned into a biased narrative almost from the beginning. When we hear the word “harassment”, we tend to create a picture of a woman getting raped/tortured by a man. The tale can be twisted sometimes; but we choose to ignore that, and that is awfully unfortunate.

From an early age, boys are taught to be “strong” and “tough”. They are not supposed to cry or express emotional attitudes like girls (which also became a default feature for girls), even if they get hurt. Being sensitive has become a matter of ridicule and this surely does not form in a day. 

Moreover, patriarchy expects men to be dominant which creates a visible hierarchy. Now, if we want to blame this powerful mainstream system for these faulty norms and mentality, we will also have to blame those who practise patriarchy — both men and women. However, that will be very unlikely of us because, as a society, we are still not ready to burden ourselves with controversial or unconventional issues.

Besides this, it has become a tradition to mark the word “victim” as vulnerable, helpless, and powerless, and to blend it with femininity. So, when a victim is a man, that very tradition shatters in shame. That is why, breaking this conservative shackle and reshaping our psychology according to the fact — “The victim is just a human” — might be the first step of bringing these matters out in the open.  

Secondly, there is not enough media coverage regarding male victimisation. There are rare cases like Johnny Depp, or any other public figures, who got attention because of their fame and celebrity image. What about those who are not in the paparazzi’s limelight? And even if they are, the media does not cover these issues transparently. The main issues remain buried and men get labelled “simp”, “gay”, or “impotent”. More specifically, they become a subject of public mockery and get slandered rather than helped. There should be more shows like Delhi Crime (an Indian Mini-series of “Nirbhaya Rape Case” that has recently won the International Emmy Awards for Best Drama Series), but also we need TV-shows/movies/documentaries that will represent the silent cries of the male victims; as most of us during leisure, prefer sitting in front of the blue screen to doing anything else.

Finally, on a personal note, I think male victims of sexual violence or those who are falsely accused by women are not still psychologically prepared to expose the crimes they have been/are facing because they are “men”. Because of this, the question of “male ego” emerges. So, wholeheartedly, they seem to believe that even the slightest scandal can tarnish their “manliness” in the very world where they are living as the majority. Now, when you only prioritise what people will “say” behind your back, and make yourself alienated without giving yourself even a glimpse of justice, or let us say — chance, then that is problematic.

Violation is all about power play, whether anyone admits it or not — it is true and universal. Grand movements or campaigns sometimes erroneously pour even more fuel into the flames, which later can turn into a wildfire. Any movement has a hidden structure of transforming itself into something else, which subverts the root purpose of it in the first place. Campaigns as broad as #MeToo cannot be led by only individuals’ directions, rather in a collective manner, otherwise it will lose its glory. 

 

I would conclude this article by quoting Tarana Burke as she gave a solution regarding the whole misconception, we just have to acknowledge it:

“Men are also wonderful allies and…we are not going to move the needle at all, unless we can engage men and women and however people identify in ways that let them understand how harmful sexual violence is and how we as human beings are responsible for undoing that. Men are very much involved in that and very much a part of the solution. This is not a war against men. We can’t make the changes that we need…unless we have everybody engaged.”

 

References

  1. “Rape of males: It’s all about patriarchy”
  2. Year after #MeToo apology, comic Utsav Chakraborty calls out 4 women on Twitter for lies
  3. MeToo movement not a war against men

 


Fiana thinks of herself as a human-ish, who wants to count each of her steps on Earth just like she counts the pages of her books.

 

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