It would not be completely wrong to asseverate that we are living in an era where logical fallacies dominate a discourse more than substantial arguments. The internet has exacerbated the use of logical fallacies. The most dangerous aspect of their use is that it appears logical to those who are not much into the discourse, and that’s how propagandas are furthered.
There is a plethora of things that have been dishonoured and mortified. Feminism, just like caste-based reservation, is a favourite target. But in the case of feminism, this dishonour is even more severe. Women are coming forward and clutching what was earlier confiscated from them, and men are unable to accept this. This is a general trend pertinent across ideologies, and certainly not something that can be exclusively attributed to a particular ideology.
To put women’s movement to shame, men and some women as well resort to sophistic whataboutery. The range of these whatabouteries is pretty wide but fathomable. In this piece, I attempt to approach some of these whatabouteries.
One technical argument says, “Only 15% of those implicated under 498A are real culprits, remaining are falsely implicated.” This appears to be a very sensible argument, but it is flawed to the core. We all know how the legal system works in our country. If a woman makes an allegation, there’s barely any chance that she would be able to provide evidence.
Suppose, a woman makes an allegation that her husband is very toxic and beats her regularly. Who will bear witness against the husband? What evidence can she come up with? The man’s family will stand with him. There’s no chance that they would testify against him. Even the girl’s family would be reluctant to her filing a complaint and would try to pressurise her into withdrawing her complaint.
Besides, most women are financially dependent on their husbands. This further aggravates the problem and forces them into tolerating violence and harassment. So, divorce is certainly not an option for them. And the tabooing of divorce worsens this even more!
There’s another way in which this argument can be punctured. If we go by that logic, then no politician in India is corrupt, for the conviction rate is even less than 15% in case of corruption. But we do know that this is not the case, there has been no conviction because the politicians are powerful and financially very influential. They use their money and muscle power to turn things in their favour.
Another argument often presented is, “The feminism professed by these snowflakes is not real feminism, it’s all faux and dangerous. It only promotes smoking/drinking.”
If we analyse this argument deeply, we will find that there lies this conceived belief that circumstances for everyone are same. Clearly, this is not the case. For a girl living in a rural area, feminism, at its best, would enable her to go to school and get decent treatment in her family. But for a girl living in an urban area, this is not the case. The problems faced by her are altogether different.
The problems faced by girls in villages are not pertinent here. For example, a girl based in Mumbai/ Delhi doesn’t need to fight for going to school. Her brother or male friends are allowed to booze and roam around the whole night. So, she aspires to achieve the same degree of freedom. Clearly, the purpose of feminism would be different for her. So, we can conclude from this that the role of feminism is different at different rungs.
I read a very beautiful line of late that summarises this ruction: “Feminism isn’t about promoting smoking, it’s about establishing the fact that smoking tarnishes a woman’s lungs, not her character.”
Third argument is, “Feminism is about defaming male gender and hurling fake allegations.”
Logical fallacies appear to be utterly logical and sensible, but if one digs deeper, we can see the hollowness that lies underneath.
Recently, a boy committed suicide because a girl had alleged him of raping her. The girl could not produce any evidence. The internet got rattled and it was projected as though rape has been normalised. In my opinion, it’s a fluctuation in the general trend. Women get raped every day, by strangers, their husbands, and they commit suicide because of harassment and molestation. But this doesn’t make much noise and the callous indifference goes on. But when the opposite happens, women are collectively abused and subjected to the harshest of obloquy. Why does this happen?
When circumstances go against men, they find that completely radical. They maintain their indifference to all incidents of rape and molestation so far because it has been normalised now. All it takes is one fake allegation for the male society to unite. For one fake allegation, all feminists are made to answer while men can shrug off their responsibility by saying #NotAllMen. And if we are to stress on statistics, here are some mind-boggling figures:
More than 127,800 cases were pending by the end of 2017.
One can see how one fake allegation turns things topsy-turvy.
There’s an argument that I too had fallen prey to. It is premised on the point of generalisation and other implications emanating from it. It reads: “Feminists love to generalise men but get offended when someone generalises Muslims.” This argument is put forward in another parlance, “#NotAllMen argument is puke-inducing but #NotallMuslim argument isn’t.”
There is a very subtle absurdity and preposterousness in this argument. There are more than 1.8 billion practicing Muslims in the world, and only 1-2 lakh Muslims believe in the Wahabi ideology. To the contrary, almost every single man believes in patriarchy, either knowingly or unknowingly. We all practice patriarchy in our daily lives. This can be explicated by citing the fact that we all enjoy sexist and queerphobic humour.
In fact, sexism is the pillar on which queerphobia is premised. There’s a very popular trend among millennials, they love to use terms such as ‘chhakka‘ or ‘meetha‘ for tik-tokers. This happens because men are supposed to isolate themselves from any act that is purportedly feminine. Since dancing and singing are considered to have women’s monopoly on them, we use terms like ‘meetha‘ and ‘chakka’ for a male if he tries to break this stereotype.
We get irked when a woman wears a revealing dress or purchases wine. Why so? The crux of this explanation is that people who believe in patriarchy significantly outnumber those who believe in the Wahabi ideology.
This can be made more comprehensive if we look at the way two things are portrayed. Mainstream media is dominated by males. So, we don’t get to witness the severity of patriarchy because journalists can choose to show one thing as well as overlook the other.
Women are getting harassed and raped every now and then, but we don’t get to know much about this. To the contrary, the case of terrorism gets all the hype and noise because both sides benefit from that, i.e. the ones who unleash terror and the ones who use terror for their political gains.
Terrorists kill about 22,000-25,000 people every year, but this is exaggerated to an extent that people extrapolate that terrorism is the biggest threat to humanity. The concept of terrorism is based on theatrics. We can see how the plight of women is unable to prick our conscience, but the portrayal of terror makes us shiver with fear.
While talking about logical fallacies, one cannot ignore the role that WhatsApp has played. You can find justification for everything. I stumbled upon one such justification that read: “Girls are diamond and boys are iron, that’s why girls must be locked securely.” This is very farcical but it must be analysed too. They say that iron is pretty cheap while diamond is exorbitantly expensive.
Going by that logic, can’t one say that if a diamond is kept locked, what is the purpose of it being costly? Besides, the use of this metaphor reflects how plagued our way of thinking is. Women are considered fragile and friable ( Diamond is the hardest element but here it is not used in that sense). This speaks volumes about our cultural demagoguery.
Feminism isn’t selective. If anything, it’s lucrative for the male gender as well. It expands the range of colours/emotions/tastes for men that patriarchy tends to limit. In other words, feminism is lucrative for everyone, and we must embrace it.