May a good source be with you.

We Must Stand With Men

A demand for accountability from powerful men? Have you ever heard of something so bizarre? 

There’s a war raging against problematic sexual behaviour that men have engaged in and normalised over thousands of years. And in this time of conflict, we must unequivocally pledge to stand by the many Poor Little Powerful Men™ who are becoming its fatal casualties.

From former editor MJ Akbar who would likely wear a bathrobe to a black-tie event, to Suhel Seth who is now being asked to resign from his position as… wait, what does Suhel Seth do again? Sajid Khan, Alok Nath, Nana Patekar, Utsav Chakraborty, Vikas Bahl, Gursimran Khamba and many others. These men have been variously accused of rape, sexual misconduct, harassment and emotional abuse. And it seems they must now deal with the appalling reality of having ACTUAL CONSEQUENCES for their predatory behaviour. Unthinkable!

We must stand with men.

As #MeTooIndia spreads far and wide, many Impolite Feminists™ are saying that for decades, nay, centuries, they have faced and dealt with the trauma of rape, sexual harassment, inappropriate touch and violation of boundaries at home, on the street, in the boardroom and bedroom. They say they have been groped in buses, been victims of domestic abuse, silently borne the sight of unsolicited dick-pics and a few terrifying threats here and there. And just like that, after years of not allowing them the right to so much as leave the kitchen, we are to simply… listen to them? And apparently, that’s not as far as this gross insubordination goes — they say we must even BELIEVE THEM. Outrageous! I will not stand for this!

In comparison, Poor Little Powerful Men™ are confronting a far more disturbing reality as this movement forges ahead. THEY ARE BEING SENT ON A TEMPORARY LEAVE OF ABSENCE AT WORK GODDAMNIT.

We must stand with men.

Me Too
(Photo: Wikimedia commons)

For the fourteen millionth time in history, we must believe the powerful over the powerless. This is the best strategy so as to maintain the status quo in which men, with whom we must stand, continue to live a life of glorious impunity. In the face of this “viral fever” that is #MeTooIndia, we must support the Sleazebag Collective™ in its unflinching use of might and monetary power to silence and bully these defiant women who demand that their stories be heard. I mean, accountability from powerful men? Have you ever heard of something so bizarre?

If we allow this impropriety to propagate through the country any further, it might lead to more women speaking out against their predators, it might lead to a change in the paradigm of how we navigate sexual and romantic relationships, how we define appropriate and inappropriate behaviour, how we understand and define consent. This is preposterous! A junior minister did not resign and spend very little time or effort meeting his powerful friends over a drink to conjure up ways to discredit the riff-raff of 36 women for nothing.

We must stand with men.

Think of the irreparable loss we collectively endure as a society now that these men have been called out. We may never get to be blissfully unaware of MJ Akbar’s largely irrelevant existence in politics. We may never get to watch Alok Nath in the zero films anyone has given him since the stone ages. We may never get to tolerate the objectification of women in another Sajid Khan film. We may never have a generation of women suffering in silence as men try to have their way with them no matter what they say, do or believe. The list of cons is endless!

So women, kindly spare us this hardship and lock your trauma away in that inaccessible little bunker the patriarchy has tirelessly built for it with generations of gaslighting and a glaring disregard for anyone’s agency.

We must stand with men.

In this extremely difficult time, as people across India celebrate the Wokebro Visarjan, I ask you this. How come we’re robbing male bosses of their right to force drinks down female employees’ throats, but as a society we must advocate that men have the reality of their own problematic behaviour thrust down their own? How come it is frowned upon when men threaten women and violate their boundaries, but suddenly it’s perfectly peachy for women to desecrate an entire culture of conditioned silence. How come it is not all right for husbands to rape wives, boyfriends to assault girlfriends, godfathers to molest goddaughters, but we are allowing women to commit the heinous act of talking about these experiences out loud and standing with each other?

These are double standards. This is not equality. This is The Siege Within.

And we must stand with men.

So I implore you, believe Poor Little Powerful Men™. The time to attribute political agenda and professional ambition to a brave revelation of assault and harassment is now. Women have come forward knowing that a large part of this patriarchal planet will not believe them, will send them rape threats, will extend their sexual harassment into years of legal harassment, will slut shame them, body shame them, question their silence, will not employ them and call them hysterical. These are the rewards they know they’ll reap for coming out with experiences of abuse. Don’t believe them.

Stand with men. Because really, when you think about it logically, since ALL women around you have a story of harassment and/or abuse, obviously NO man in your social circle, or celebrity group, or political party, or comedy collective, or media house could have ever committed or perpetuated it.

Stand with men. Because what are the stories of THIRTY SIX women having their sexual boundaries violated, against ONE powerful man’s sullied reputation.

Asmita Bakshi is a journalist.

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