When the #MeToo movement exploded, most of us were pumped up with pent up anger, pleased as punch that predators were being pounded into the dirt and optimistic that in future mayhap, women will finally be treated with respect, listened to, cherished and allowed to breathe easier in a world that has been made safer. Thousands upon thousands of stories of abuse, harassment, gross misconduct and violation of rights have spilled forth prompting us to take a hard look at the tragic legacy of patriarchy. Formerly taboo topics pertaining to sex, sexuality, consent, appropriate behaviour, hostile work environment, abuse of power are being openly discussed. We have finally acknowledged that it is all too common for crimes perpetrated against women to go unpunished because more often than not, these cases are complicated, intimate, messy and hard to prove with the frequent result that serial offenders are let off the hook while their victims pay a heavy price by losing their jobs, credibility and even lives.
Real change, however, has proven to be a painstakingly slow process and not many have the patience for boring things like due process or the justice system (who can blame them given the abysmal track record of both!) or the fuddy-duddies who urge caution and state that in a democracy, the accused is considered to be innocent until proven otherwise. #BelieveAllWomen has become the war cry of the woke, new wave feminists who are tired of being relentlessly trolled and receiving unsolicited pics of male genitalia every time they raise their voices to express solidarity with their sisters.
In the subsequent shitstorm, a sense of balance, proportion, and nuance have all but vanished. The movement has devolved from denouncing sex offenders to criminalizing flirts, boors, and creeps. By clubbing together a wide range of misbehaviour some of which are merely silly, stupid or sleazy with serious offences like stalking, rape or paedophilia, #MeToo has lost steam and is becoming increasingly asinine as evidenced recently by the senseless shenanigans played out on social media by self – serving, wannabe stand – up clowns.
In this supercharged circus, people are forever being pulled up and derided for false claims and fake news. Men who denounce other men for sexual misconduct, demanding that they be hanged without a fair trial backtrack when they are the ones accused of the same foul deeds. Women who insist that all women be believed change their stance if it is their son, husband, brother or friend who has been accused by some ‘floozy’. Everyone seems to be enjoying the sordid revelations and mudslinging while deriving inordinate pleasure from witnessing the public humiliation of others.
I am all for the #MeToo movement but as someone who studied in an all-girls boarding school, I can confidently assert that you have to be every kind of moron to #BelieveAllWomen. Everybody lies and those who claim otherwise are lying. How ironic that while fighting patriarchal stereotypes of the chaste, pure, virtuous and non-existent woman as being the only one worthy of protection and exaltation we wind up perpetuating the same myth by casting all women as incorruptible champions of truth! Surely it is high time, we realized that wanting to verify claims and vet stories does not necessarily mean one is against women but merely on the side of fairness and justice?
The time has come for us to say Time’s up! To sexual harassment as well as social – media dispensed justice and punishment. To the mob mentality that sees us revel in the destruction of careers and lives. To hashtag activism. And to the dumdum in all of us.
This article originally appeared in The New Indian Express.