I write this while still trying to compose myself, optimising my phone detox period. My mental health has been under attack since I lashed out at my trolls relentlessly.
The subject of their trolling – the caption of my Instagram post taking a dig at toxic masculinity.
Truth be told, it was expected to attract people’s ire. The post didn’t catch the attention of the hawk-eyed guardians of patriarchy until people started sharing it incessantly. Before I knew it, my comment section was transformed into a glorious hall of shame.
As in any case of trolling, three things transpired. Firstly, my kin and kith stood in support of me till the very end. Second, Instagram took down my post because of mass reporting. Third, the people who opposed me thought this was it! They won!
Instagram as a safe online platform
After the assassination of revered journalists and rationalists like Gauri Lankesh, Narendra Dabholkar, and M.M. Kalburgi, I wasn’t surprised with such a response. At this point, it won’t be wrong to say that we are under an undeclared Emergency. While I am aware of my own privileges, I, as a citizen, have always held civil and political rights essential to a person’s dignity.
In an atmosphere where we feel watched even while having personal conversations, Instagram proved to be a safe space.
However, the platform is slowly becoming less inclusive and democratic where it inadvertently takes down some of our posts but doesn’t take action against those inciting misogynist, racist and communal sentiments. These are double standards and the platform must rectify its “guidelines” which inadvertently protect trolls.
The incident, however, also made me question myself.
Is misandry just another form of sexism?
“Wasn’t I technically a misandrist rather than a feminist considering my simmering hatred towards cisgendered heterosexual men?” I asked myself. “Did being a misandrist inevitably make me as wrong as a misogynist since both the ideas were rooted in hating the opposite sex?”
But, I brushed away my doubts quickly as I tossed to the other side of the bed, thinking about all the women lost to a male-dominated regressive society. The numerous news clippings of violence against women started reeling before my eyes and I wondered: Is misandry even real?
Misogyny, on the whole, is mostly based on stereotypes and lies. On the other hand, misandry is an outcome of the historical oppression of women throughout the ages. While a misogynist society has resulted in women facing atrocities of various kinds, misandry has had close to no consequences at all. The incidents of violence against indigenous and Dalit women are even more horrifying and rampant.
I think hate, in the case of misandry, is not an emotion that flows out voluntarily. It is not a conscious decision to hate men. Rather, it is a legitimate feeling – experienced by both men and women – when our institutions turn a blind eye to the women seeking justice.
Patriarchy, not feminism, is harming men
It is high time cisgendered heterosexual men acknowledge their privileges and condemn toxic rape culture which normalises sexist and rape jokes.
The opponents of #MeToo and feminism generally argue that men, too, face sexual harassment. True, men also get raped but the #MeToo movement is not against men and, in fact, stands up for male victims of sexual violence.
Interestingly, cis-hetero men are the first ones to ridicule the victims by calling them less “masculine.” And like I mentioned above, #MeToo was never centred around one gender or sexuality. The movement isn’t against men, patriarchy is – a system from which they majorly benefit.
Patriarchy must be fought at all costs as it gives way to skewed power dynamics which in turn facilitates systemic discrimination. This, according to me, is the major reason behind sexual crimes against women and children. We have read and heard about so many gruesome crimes against women to confirm the fact that rapes do not happen due to “sexual urges” of men (and definitely not because of provocation by females). Such crimes are, in fact, borne out of toxic masculinity which encourages men to exert their dominance over, as they say, the “weaker sex”.
How much truth does #NotAllMen hold?
I am tired of responding to the qualms people regarding “pseudo-feminists.” It is sad that patriarchy is so deeply embedded in our minds that even equality feels like oppression.
They complain about women who falsely accuse men of sexual harassment and how #MeToo has ruined careers of men. In response, I point out the significance of proportions. Compare the number of incidents of rape, sexual harassment and acid attacks (add to that, the monumental number of marital rapes and child sexual abuse that often go unreported), with the tiny number of fake allegations.
As for men’s careers getting ruined, we all see how celebrities go back to leading a normal life, unblemished by the charges levelled against them.
Victim-shaming is inevitable when women publicly accuse someone of sexual harassment. They are trolled, abused and humiliated in public. Despite being aware of the ill-consequences of calling out names, women muster the strength to stand by what they think is right.
In such a situation, women require men to take responsibility for a society that curbs their liberty to express themselves. It is time men take a stand and make a difference by admitting #YesAllMen.
Deepshi Chowdhury is a high school graduate. She had opted for Humanities stream and believes in political discourse and dissent as the only way of deepening and expanding democracy.
Featured image credit: Pariplab Chakraborty