#MeTooIndia: Why victim blaming is the greatest disservice to the movement

How could women who are now crying harassment and rape not know that inebriated men are incapable of handling their sexual desires and animal instincts?

 |  4-minute read |   15-10-2018
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It has to be said that patriarchy was very intelligently introduced into human society and its success has relied completely on deceit. It tricked the victim into believing that she was responsible for her plight, that the misery that befell women was completely avoidable had they behaved better, that it is the women who arouse men by this or that to rape, harass, beat and abuse.

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In the wake of the MeToo movement, the focus continues to be on how gullible men were manipulated into harassing women. Despite the calling out, the naming and the shaming, the spotlight still seems to be more on the victim than the offenders.

In an educated, aware India, we now have a term for this phenomenon — victim blaming.

Sadly, some women too are coming up with the style guide that fellow women can adopt in everyday life to avoid becoming a victim of rape culture.

This style guide is nothing but the most potent enabler of the rape culture that women are fighting against.

What is victim blaming? How does it work?

Victim blaming occurs when the victim of a crime or any wrongful act is held entirely or partially at fault for the harm that comes her way.

A lot of women who have come out to narrate their ordeal of harassment faced at the hands of fellow or superior men, are being held to account on countless fronts — why the delay in reporting, why were you with the alleged perpetrator alone, why did you drink with the man, why did you even entertain the person knowing he meant to harm you?

This attitude marginalises the survivor, minimises the criminal act, and makes people less likely to come forward and report what has happened to them. Worse, it also emboldens the criminal, backing him with the legitimacy of that women in certain situations can be taken advantage of.

There is a project underway that seeks to infantilise the women calling out sexual predators in workplaces. The narrative being built is that they made choices that were naive, foolish, dangerous, or incorrect in some way.

Predator versus the prey

Senior journalist Priya Ramani, who has accused minister of state in the external affairs ministry MJ Akbar of sexual misconduct, is being asked why she did not name the former editor of Asian Age when she first wrote a piece for Vogue in October 2017 talking about the harassment.

If you had any doubt that this is a men’s world from east to the west, from north to the south, here’s your proof.

A woman, who suffers harassment, doesn’t even get the right to decide when she wants to call out her perpetrator. The timing must be to the liking of the accused and those who support him, his ‘well-wishers’.

Akbar is now using the same logic to raise questions on the intent of those accusing him.

Countless women are being questioned on why they are tweeting the allegations through anonymous accounts. These people are wilfully oblivious to the power imbalance between the man and the woman under question.

Senior journalists like Tavleen Singh seem to be telling us that the women are at fault because a) they live and work in cities b) they are accusing men like Suhel Seth, who are her friends.

In some parts of the world, women need as many as four-five men to bear witness to their rape. A woman’s allegations, coupled with medical examinations, hold no water. What the MeToo movement is seeing in India is no different.

The onus is on the women to prove male culpability. It is for her to prove who saw her being harassed and worse of all, to explain why she chose to come in harm’s way.

How could women who are now crying harassment and rape not know that inebriated men are incapable of handling their sexual desires and animal instincts? How naive could they be?

We have normalised rape helping it become a part of culture by not fixing accountability. As long as we continue to question women on how and why they invited advances and assaults, we will continue to let ‘boys be boys’.

We believe women are not filing complaints because their cases are built on quicksand. This has only gone on to ensure that the likes of Akbar stand firm in their defiance.

Women will continue to be unsafe and vulnerable as long as we don’t accept men rape and harass because they feel entitled to the bodies and minds of women as perks of their positions.

Shame on the men who do it. Shame on those who support men who do it.

Also read: A gentleman’s guide to survival in the age of #MeToo: Five handy tips

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