As the first wave of MeToo movement hit the internet world, we realized the sheer magnitude of the problem of sexual abuse. The horrendous accounts of assaults surfaced and the mob outrage broke over the perpetrators. Women realized that they no longer bear the shame of the abuse they were once handled and that their collective voice could bring down big names.
But as we reached the bottom of the barrel, some feminist enthusiastic scratched through it and fell right out of the whole context of MeToo movement. Amidst the stories of brutal abuse of power and ignorance of consent, some incidents of bad/unwanted flirting trickled into the mix. This is exactly the place where we have to stop ourselves from instinctively joining in the internet mob lynching and look at these claims under the lenses of rationality.
When someone has to make the first move in the complex game of courtship to discover if one’s affection is returned or not, gestures are made that could be objectionable. But in this game, both the partners have equal power to rebuff the advances. To be clearer on this, when you are in a position or have the power to object to something being done to you, but you justify your indulgence as politeness or an attempt to avoid awkwardness, you share the blame in the whole episode.
Women have to learn to say clear “No” to things that they feel uncomfortable or harassed with. This is a part of education that is missing in our culture of victim shaming. The fact is that there is no telepathic communication happening which sends a clear signal to the other that you detest someone’s advances. You have to say No when you can. You have to show your displeasure at others times. You have to do everything possible in your power to make it clear to another person that you do not like their advances. It sets the very clear boundary of what is acceptable and what is not. We would never want a noble movement to create an atmosphere of overcautious voice in the heads of Men, who is now thinking of securing a countersign agreement before giving a compliment to a colleague. It converts a light-hearted flirting/interactions into a social minefield. While it feels great to exercise the newfound power of a movement which can bring about huge changes, it would be a grave mistake to throw misogynist, creeps or bad flirters in the same mix as the sexual predators and rapist.
We all might dissent in our opinions on what can be considered part of this movement, but the thing that is more troubling than the accusations itself is the trend, where an internet mob can assassinate a personal and professional life of a person based on unverified facts.
This mob mentality (which is never good in any case) lay the gate to vindictive revenge wide open in a world, where verdicts are thrown without much thought and willful ignorance. And when incidents without proper evidenced are hailed as heroics, it becomes disturbing and harmful. Because false claims create victims too. To say that great movements take into its grind some innocents is just a way of dusting off our hands of the responsibility to save any innocent on our way to justice.
This movement has opened up a discussion about a topic which was by large considered Taboo in our society. Let’s not make it into an anti–men-grievance fest. To use this movement wisely and fairly is the responsibility of every person who has longed for gender equality and wished for Victim Shaming to finally end.