Whoa There

I will probably be lynched for saying this but the current movement of MeToo leaves me cold. I am skeptical of women who suddenly turn up and say they were victims of sexual harassment years ago. Their claims of having been groped or having been targets of verbal sexual attacks may well be true but many of them have continued to work with their attacker or even partied with him moving as they did in the same social circles. Evidently the harassment did not affect them enough that they moved away or dropped out and certainly not enough that they protested or complained at the time. If they had been child victims who picked up courage years later to complain, I can understand. But many of them were grown women who knew what was happening and could have responded suitably.

Much of this assault is of the kind faced every day by many women on a crowded train or on a footpath from a passerby who quickly walks away. To remain quiet for years, and even continue to meet the man socially or professionally, obviously because it was to their benefit, to then cry “wolf” is what is unacceptable. This trivializes the actual and terrible abuse faced by really vulnerable women and children who are forced to remain quiet in the face of threats to life and fear of social stigma, or the fate of those who did complain only to suffer retribution because they were on the wrong side of social lines of birth and position.

The three month old rape victim is seen less as a victim than an affluent grown woman who says she is suffering prolonged trauma because she was touched on her backside thirty years ago by someone she is still friends with.

Then there is the woman who complained of molestation because her superior touched her hand in the course of an argument/discussion…

Women in India are quick to lodge complaints of molestation in cases of dispute because it is easier and because the onus of disproving it lies with the other person. In our building a woman who had a running dispute with the society over feeding stray dogs inside the complex, accused a society member of molestation and lodged a police complaint. It was fortunate for the member that there were at least twenty witnesses who knew the complaint was false. Even so it took several hours before the man could be extricated from the hands of the police.

There are men who are worried about being alone in the house when the maid comes to work and make it a rule to leave all the doors and windows open.

It is not my case that women do not have a right to protest. But a much-delayed protest is of no value especially when it becomes a case of she says he says. The veracity of the woman becomes doubtful when years have passed since the incident and she seems to have been happily carrying on with her life meanwhile. All the talk of trauma does not convince.

Move on, woman. Make way for the women and children who have actually been raped or abused, and have received no justice.

You have had your fifteen minutes of fame.

3 thoughts on “Whoa There”

  1. The problem with all of this is that the trial is in the court of public opinion. I sympathize (at least in principle) with the women who were wronged just as much as the men who were wrongly accused, but this should not delegitimize the issue by painting everyone with the same brush.

    You shouldn’t trivialize workplace abuse, even if they are grown women and not young children. It is a fallacy to assume the persons abused have a choice, because they are often forced to make a trade-off between giving up on their careers, facing retaliation, or just putting up with it. People shouldn’t have to make that choice, especially not in the face of harassment from people with power in that context. Don’t let the 20% case of false accusations fool you into thinking the 80% problem is not a big deal. It is worthwhile having a discussion on finding a better way to address the real issue that the 80% is facing, so that it isn’t a case of she-said-he-said, but to simply say “move on” isn’t right. When a dozen people show up to complain about one person, there is probably some truth to the accusation, though “innocent until proven guilty” still needs to hold true.

  2. I am only objecting to the idea of women piping up years later about something less than rape or abuse that may be impossible to prove, if they were in a position to protest or object at the time it happened. I am not defending anybody either. Also I am just as appalled as anyone by women being harassed at work because there they are defenseless and vulnerable.

    If somebody waits for twenty years and has been getting along quite well otherwise, and then suddenly claim that they are traumatized by having been groped a very long time ago, I will find it difficult to believe. I am not even saying they are “false” accusations, just that how are they going to prove it now? And nowhere am I saying that the men are wrongly accused.

  3. I agree that delayed claims may be impossible to prove in a court of justice. But if a woman gets groped twenty years ago, and today she has an opportunity to make the claim and have the aggressor punished in the court of public opinion, why wouldn’t she? To her, that is indeed justice, even if you and I don’t believe it.

    As an analogy, say my car got broken into 3 years ago. If I knew who the perpetrator was and today I had a chance to point to the guy on the street and have him punished just by making the claim, I certainly would. The fact that there are more serious crimes in the world has no bearing on my perspective that I had been wronged. And sure, I might not have been “traumatized” through the last 3 years, but I sure as heck wouldn’t say that it’s no big deal.

    So in a way, the people participating in the MeToo movement are getting justice of a sort, maybe not the kind of justice that everyone would agree with. And of course, there is collateral damage.

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