Dear Men, Stop Saying These Ten Bizarre Things About #MeToo
As the Indian #MeToo is roughly two months old now, we bring to you ten lame things men have said in its wake. We could smell excuses and explanations from a mile ever since allegations of sexual misconduct begin doing rounds on desi Twitter. Some of these merely egged out an eye roll from us, while others made us froth at the mouth. And while we are not done naming and shaming sexual predators from all walks of life, we have had enough of ifs and buts from Indian men. So dear men, just stop saying these lame things whenever you find yourselves amidst a conversation on #MeToo (unwillingly, we presume), and perhaps side with us just this once?
- In a post #MeToo India, we want men to stop questioning the credibility of survivors.
- Stop backing the predators because they think they are nice guys or talented artists.
- Don’t deflect the blame of sexual entitlements by saying we are over-exaggerating.
- We all need to sit down and talk about our understanding of male and female body languages.
She has no credibility
We saw this happening to Tanushree Dutta, and many other survivors who came forward with their stories harassment. No sooner did Dutta’s interview went viral, men began questioning her credibility, on grounds that she was not an A-lister, and also because she didn’t have any aversion to doing “those kind of scenes” in films. Any woman’s credibility doesn’t depend on her professional standing, her credibility simply depends on whether she is lying or telling the truth.
But she wore that dress
For the last time, it is not her dress or makeup. Women who wear short clothes or makeup are not loose. Don’t read her dress, read her lips. Pay attention to what she is saying. A dress is never an excuse to behave badly with a woman, so stop using it to justify improper behaviour of a predator.
A dress is never an excuse to behave badly with a woman, so stop using it to justify improper behaviour of a predator.
But he is such a nice guy
This is something we have all heard not just in light of #MeToo, but anytime you confide into a male friend, or a partner that so and so creeps you out with his lewd suggestions and accidental brushes. Just because a guy is a great friend, an honest employee or a talented artist, doesn’t mean he is not capable of misconduct. In fact, many predators bank on their squeaky-clean public image to prey on women, because they know people would choose to believe their perception over the word of the survivor.
It is still too soon to flood our timelines with #notallmen, every time we discuss male predatory behaviour. Let every man speak for himself, don’t do his talking for him. If you are nice, it shows in your conduct offline and online. We know when we come across a good guy. But right now women are just too angry and they just need to vent out the years and decades of oppression and frustration they have been keeping under a tight lid. What we need from men around us is a patient ear, not a hashtag in self-defence.
What we need from men around us is a patient ear, not a hashtag in self-defence.
We are scared of women now
The unspoken rule at Wall Street, which came to light earlier this week, said that men were making it a practice to avoid being in close quarters to female co-workers, out of fear. No one on one meetings, no sitting next to them on planes etc. In short, treating women as if they were carriers of some contagious disease. Close to home, one comes across many men who say they are even afraid to talk to women now. The only reason you should be afraid of interacting with women is if you harbour criminal intentions. Unless you plan on misusing your position of advantage to demand sexual favours from us, we won’t bite your head off.
Women are exaggerating
When the conversation about sexual harassment became inescapable, many began to feel being cornered. We understand it is no fun being part of the same conversation day in day out, in all walks of life. But then again, it is no fun to endure harassment and being forced into silence, because of the taboo. Sexual harassment is part of every woman’s life and even today many endure it in silence. They aren’t exaggerating, it is just that this is the very first time men are privy to a frank conversation on this matter of such a scale. So perhaps, look into your own dismissal of our plight and broaden your understanding of male entitlement and patriarchal oppression, before accusing women of over-reacting.
Women send mixed signals
A considerable number of men have raised the issue of mixed signals and misread body language. They claim that women often mislead them by sending mixed signals, and then when they make a move, it comes across as misconduct. Agreed that we need to talk more about reading each other’s body language correctly, but there is no possible way you can misinterpret consent. When a girl repeatedly brushes off your hand from her shoulder or says even a feeble “no” to your physical advances, her signals are clear enough for you to back off. However, men do need to question their own perception of signals women send to them. We live in a country where wearing a short dress is considered an open invitation by men to be lewd. Clearly, it isn’t women who have issues with signals then.
We live in a country where wearing a short dress is considered an open invitation by men to be lewd. Clearly, it isn’t women who have issues with signals then.
Consent to kiss or to make out is also consenting to have sex
Consent is a very tricky matter for some boys. Many think that if a girl is okay with kissing you or agrees to make out with you, then she wants to have sex as well. No. A girl can refuse to go forward during an intimate interaction anytime she wants to (that goes for men as well) and the other partner must respect their wish. Kissing or making out and having sex are entirely different things, and a “no” to go ahead holds the same relevance in every situation and at any point of time during the engagement.
Sending lewd texts or dick pics is not harassment
Yes, it is. If she has said no to you and yet you persist with “chasing her” or sending unsolicited dick pics or lewd texts to her, then it counts as harassment. She didn’t want to read a dirty joke and said so, yet you persisted. Also, if a girl exchanges a few pleasantries with you, it doesn’t mean she wants to see your private body parts, or show you hers. Sending intimate photographs or starting intimate conversations is a milestone in a relationship which finds its roots in, what’s that word, consent. You don’t send dick pics after merely saying hi on Twitter chat a couple of times. Or after exchanging numbers on the promise of work opportunities.
If it was consensual how can it be harassment?
A lewd boss managed to coerce sexual favours from his subordinate, but since she didn’t physically resist him it cannot be abuse, opine numerous men. There are a lot of things which keep women from physically resisting sexual advances. Fear of professional, personal or social repercussions and a low position pyramid of power are just a few. So even when it is consensual, if a person of power has abused his or her position to gain sexual favours, it becomes harassment. The consent here was coerced out, which makes it invalid.
If a person of power has abused his or her position to gain sexual favours, it becomes harassment. The consent here was coerced out, which makes it invalid.
Yamini Pustake Bhalerao is a writer with the SheThePeople team, in the Opinions section. The views expressed are the author’s own.