Dear Men, You Have Made Things More Difficult For Us After MeToo

Social Commentary

Dear Men, You Have Made Things More Difficult For Us After MeToo

Illustration: Shruti Yatam

The #MeToo movement that spread faster than a Californian wildfire, engulfed nations and fragile egos. It was also an awful time for #NotAllMen. We women could almost feel their trauma in our guts. Imagine waking up one morning to discover you’ve been stripped of your much cherished ‘office heartthrob’’ title! The king of good times, purveyor of x-rated forwards was now being unfairly labelled the creep who was making his women colleagues uncomfortable with unwanted sexual overtures! Suddenly big words like systematic patriarchy, consent, sexual harassment were being thrown at these poor, helpless men. Four years on, the MeToo movement may have made some men sensitive, but it has made most of them, defensive.

Dear #NotAllMen, it must have hurt big time to know that your sweet, affectionate nature was misinterpreted as harassment by women colleagues. We get it you are a happily married man. You have two adorable kids you see only on weekends and a wife you call gorgeous only on Facebook! Do you think the world has become unfair because you have to suddenly ‘watch yourself’? Something we have been doing all our lives and our mothers did in theirs.

You yourself read on Twitter that nearly every woman has either been molested or knows someone who has gone through this ‘trauma.’ In the good old days they used to call it ‘eve-teasing!’ Eve-teasing, for the uninitiated, is a friendly reminder to women that they are mere playthings with no sense of self-worth. And those who resist deserve an acid-wash facial if not a sound beating.

Do you think the world has become unfair because you have to suddenly ‘watch yourself’?

The months that followed the #MeToo slander campaign must have been terrible for you. You had to make your own tea, heat your own food because your wife refused to be in the same room as you. But you used this time wisely and focussed on feeling even more victimised than your so-called victims. Victims, ha! Who are they kidding? Did they not know what to expect when you invited them over to your hotel room for an in-depth discussion about their growth trajectory in the company? Did you cry foul and claim to have felt used as a stepping ladder when you gave her the raise she deserved in the first place? Absolutely not.

Trust these militant feminists to gather the courage to share their feelings, making it so not okay to be assaulted. Even worse, they were encouraging more women to speak up against their harassers, both publicly and anonymously. Four years later, you and your fraternity have made amends to make women feel safe again. A few of you dragged them to the courts for defamation but had to bite the dust when your lawsuits were quashed. Not you though. Being a man of dignity, you apologised and made sure the women who spoke up were shunned while you carried on with your careers.

Did you cry foul and claim to have felt used as a stepping ladder when you gave her the raise she deserved in the first place?

If rumours are to be believed, you are over-cautious in your interactions with women and even the bhabhis who you used to flirt with. Not once have you called your business manager hot and asked her out for coffee. The sweetheart that you are, you have even set up a sexual harassment committee chaired by YOU. Just so women you’ve stalked and harassed over years feel comfortable approaching you. We’ve also heard you are now more cautious about hiring people from the opposite sex.

Bless the pandemic and the new work from home culture. You can now break down the silos, look under the bonnet, work up a synergy from the comfort of your living room, in your crisply ironed shirt and chaddis. While your female workmates scurry around between tending to the whistling pressure cooker, crying baby and whining husband, you can bring them to task for not giving their 100% while you sip your adrak chai.

Maybe they should take a cue from Shailja, Myra and Saira who hung up their sandals because they could not keep up with the added layers of stress managing home while working 18 hours from home. Good riddance. Those ladies started looking ugly with puffy eyes and their unkempt looks. Work relationships have thus, been conveniently turned into no relationships at all.

I know it’s of little interest to you, but when we push women out of the workforce, we are wasting a valuable resource and losing a chance at sustained growth.

At 21%, India has one of the lowest female workforce participation rates in the world! With the onset of the pandemic, the estimates have become grimmer with women employees crashing from burnout, plummeting mental health, or decreased ambition. I know it’s of little interest to you, but when we push women out of the workforce, we are wasting a valuable resource and losing a chance at sustained growth. A country that invests in the economic empowerment of its women, invests in its own growth.

But let this not stop you from pushing women’s voices, their demands to be treated fairly under the carpet. The sanctity of boardrooms must be maintained by keeping women away. Let’s all work towards turning work and public spaces, into temples governed by and for men. Fewer the number of women in the public domain, the more unsafe they’ll continue to feel. And you can pretend everything’s perfectly okay. As for the token tweet, the fancy new policy that there might be no women left to apply to, no thank you.

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