Women's issues

#MeToo: A Satyagrah appealing to collective conscience or a war-cry of a mob?

It is clear that #MeToo is here to stay and hence the option of escaping the questions it is rising by whiling the time is clearly not available to either gender.

We need to talk without fearing the anger and emotional backlash if we want to drain the pus that has collected in this million year old abscess that women have suffered silently.

As a man, the problem I see is the emotional volatility, justified but a bit deterring. As typical man-post on #MeToo on social media (that is emerging into the real forum where this debate will be played out) is either too apologetic or too insensitive.

As most sensitive men are now sounding as if they are trying to negotiate with an angry leopardess in cage, the inter-gender conversation, if at all attempted at this point is reduced completely to pacifying women by trying to convince them that we agree with you. And even when some brave men attempt to do so, there is always an angry woman finding some objectionable manspaining in whatever a man has to say.

So, we are now reaching a point that soon no sane man would be ready to attempt to discuss this subject, and if that happens, it will be sad day not just for womanity but humanity.

MeToo needs to be looked at as a watershed moment in history of human society and must be faced and talked about frankly by bring all agreements-disagreements on the table.

Both genders need to give honest replies to each other and the first question that I would like to attempt is the WHY NOT NOW that is being raised by women as some allegations of events long gone-by are being made by women that are difficult to prove.

I would shift completely to first person now as it is MY opinion and I want to be honest.

When MeToo broke out in the more promiscuous western society, my middleclass moral self had preferred to look at it as a social problem of a different culture than mine. But, as the #MeTooIndia is slowly erupting, I have no option but to admit that I really had no clue that it is this horrible.

I feel that MeToo is not a worst kept secret of our society. It is rather the best kept secret because women kept it. So, when MeToIndia started gathering momentum, I was truly flabbergasted by the scale of the sexual harassment women faced in our sanskari society.

So, the real power of MeToo for me is what it stood for when it arrived like the first words spoken by a new age woman born.

It was the biggest shock-and-awe manoeuvre in human history with all the Shakespearian drama built into it.

MeToo was such a global success because it is an atomic bomb with a reactive core made from injustice suffered silently by the innocent.

There is nothing with greater emotional appeal than injustice meted out to helpless and innocent. Othello still works in moving even the twenty-first century cyborgs that we are because of depiction of cruel injustice to Desdemona.

So, faced with a nightmarish realisation of a billion Desdemonas buried deep inside our society, MeToo became an emotional force with global connect.

If we look at MeToo movement, in its early days, it had a strong resemblance with a Gandhian movement. It was like a silent Satyagrah of the sufferers. It was a peace-march of the oppressed who aimed at making the oppressors aware of what they have done.

It was a moral appeal of the hurt, of the unjustly treated and the innocent to the collective conscience.

For me, real MeToo is never a war-cry. It is rather moral appeal to conscience of all of us, men and women, about a ghastly wrong that needs to be put right.

Unfortunately, as MeToo gathers momentum, it is slowly changing its very engine that had empowered it. Today, the false sense of collective support is building a mob with a war-cry on its lips thinking that force of numbers will get the result they want.

My own opinion is, if MeToo loses the moral high-ground it started from and go down to mudslinging war between men and women, it will be a lost opportunity that may never come again.

If we now return to the WHY NOT NOW question, the answer for me is that it is a dangerous game that undermines the cause. But, if so, what should women ill-treated in past do?

The answer, for me can be found somewhere in the middle.

Naming is a great idea, but going overboard with shaming is not. These men are guilty not just by the act but by the mind-set they possess. When the shaming go overboard, it loses the critical objectivity and open up loopholes that allow them to counter.

Shaming without proof offered is a judgement that opens up doors for appeal and argument. A he-did-this is enough to connect with social conscience, but when it moves from social justice system to legal justice system, the moral authority dissipates and it becomes another pointless mudslinging match with both players brought down to the same level.

So, my appeal to women is, if they have a Metoo moment to share from a distant past where you have nothing more than your word against his word, think about it from the broader perspective of what it will do to the overall movement. You have known since ages that men are capable of being pigs a lot better than you, so fighting them where they are comfortable is a gross error that is not worth making.

I strongly feel that if MeTo loses its moral shin, it has no real hope to provide any meaningful social results.

It is exactly what a lot of men are now hoping for, so women need to think this angle out before jumping the gun, or they will soon discover that it is just firing blanks.

I am happy to admit that I have managed surviving till now with minimum effort as all my intellect has be used to avoid doing anything meaningful. As I needed to while all the free time I generated in course of being lazy, science has been my favorite muse that I have enjoyed company of. As an effort to kill time (in a way, to get even with it) one fine day I decided to write a science column, more for my personal amusement than to attract readers. After getting educated about the attention span of modern readers from my editor, it became more like a challenge to tackle esoteric subjects in 600 words that I have managed to remain interested in for more than a year now. I do not want to add my worldly profile here as these are ideas that need to be considered only on the merits they carry and not as an opinion of a certain human being.

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