Trigger warning: Mention of rape
(Parts of this article are satirical)
If I go by the trend, given the headlines these days, trolling, bashing and humiliation have become the norm. But it’s high time that the issue of men posing as victims be addressed. I will start like this:
Sushant Singh Rajput was a very intelligent man by all standards and had been in a relationship with at least three women. Yet, Rhea was able to easily fool him, loot him and worse, control his mind to the point where he stopped realising that he has agency. It has been proven that his relationship with his family was on shaky terms, but still, Rhea is, without doubt, and without proof, 100% criminal.
In Hathras, a girl died declaring that she was raped, but still, the accused became the real victim because some outside agency tried to manipulate the situation. Moreover, the girl was said to be in touch with the accused, with the implication that she was partially responsible for what happened to her.
Again, in Delhi, a girl’s (male) family members beat her supposed boyfriend to show their displeasure with the relationship. The supposed boyfriend died, but the girl’s family members remained not guilty because the girl is their property and they have a right to punish a trespasser (man or woman) with impunity.
Similar was the case with Bois Locker Room chats, which surfaced in Delhi. It came to light that a group of minor boys were circulating photos of minor girls and commenting on them in obscene language with the description of rape. Yet, a sizeable section of social media turned these boys into victims, some claiming, without proof, that the girls mentioned must have sent their photos to these boys to be used in this way.
Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s daughter received rape threats after a bad performance by her father during an IPL match. But I won’t be surprised to hear someone saying that this person was just “an overzealous fan who crossed the line.”
I could go on and on if I start describing examples from everyday life. The common characteristic of all such incidents is that men are proclaimed to be the ‘real’ victims even while they have faced no brutality, inhumanity or degradation in such cases. While to women, in some of these incidents, even death comes with humiliation and utter disrespect. A man has the choice of dying honourably, not so for a woman.
I remember an article that was written by a man describing how a girl had abused him by threatening him on chat, with a fake case of molestation if he does not indulge her. He portrayed himself as a victim by grieving on the fact that he did not have a legal remedy to address his situation and save himself from future harassment. What’s astonishing is that only a few questioned him on his claim.
He could have hired a lawyer and filed a petition in any court for his alleged harassment, even if the police were to dismiss his complaint. If what he claimed was indeed true, he would have had written proof which no court would ever dismiss. However, it was clear that his intention was not so much to bring awareness to how situations such as these can be handled but to prove how hard a man’s life is and how a man deserves more legal power. Besides, his claims would not have held in court.
A woman harassed on cyber media, on the other hand, would likely be forced to think twice before reporting an abuse: isn’t it a rule of society, for women and girls, to not talk to men at night?
In this era of social media, men are quick to complain about how women lure them, hurt them and destroy their lives. Men claim they are the puppets in the hands of scheming women and do not have any agency of their own. So, man is the victim whereas the woman becomes a devious shrew. Sometimes, even women are complicit in such myth-making.
The line of reasoning used to defend the vile acts of men is often beyond understanding. It is excusable for a man to resort to domestic violence because even though he earns, protects and is responsible for the family’s welfare, he seldom gets respect from women at home. You see the irony here: in the Indian society, the role of a man as the breadwinner is considered to be his noble burden, but when a woman earns, she does so on her own volition and is expected to leave her job for her husband on his whim.
In Indian society, the wife belongs to another family and becomes a pariah, even if her husband doesn’t actually live with his family. He does not have to leave his family after marriage, yet it is his life that becomes difficult after the marriage because he ‘has to act as a bridge between his family and wife.’ You see the comparison here? A man, very willingly, would be ready to act as a bridge on issues in a professional setting even if he weren’t paid for it. He is likely not to look at the beneficiaries of his mediation as harassers. In a family, on the contrary, his wife is conveniently framed as a harasser. In India, a man gets to live with his parents after marriage, but it is he who is the victim of the marriage.
This is not all. Dowry is illegal, but still, every year, at weddings, thousands of rupees are spent on marriage celebrations by the bride and her family. The groom’s family always has an upper hand over the bride’s family. In the end, the girl’s parents must pay obeisance to the boy’s family in the hope that the girl is ‘kept happy’ after marriage. But when cases of dowry are filed, the boy’s family gets to play the victim. The girl’s family, who has to part with their hard-earned money, is demonised.
Observe the irony here: it is okay for the girl’s parents to part with their hard-earned money (often their retirement savings), but if a husband is asked to leave his home by his wife, then the wife is told that her ‘new parents’ must not be deprived of care and economic security. This is deceptive; in India, it is often the man’s parents who find themselves taking on the financial burden of their married sons. Yet, at the end of the day, the man is the victim of a marriage.
Women do commit crimes. Yet, more than men, they have been known to be truthful. For example, it has been reported that, in Delhi, as many as 40% of cases tried by court of law are filed by disgruntled parents of daughters whose relationships they do not approve of. Quite often, the victims here get justice when the girl tells the truth. Women are less likely to shy away from receiving punishment as exemplified in the Kerala serial murder case. In the ongoing drug trial of Bollywood, it is strange that all women celebrities have been named and no male celebrity has been called out for using drugs. Is it possible that the men of Bollywood are living such pious lives? Still, at the end, disgruntled fathers are fathers and apparently have the ultimate right to override their daughters’ agency, often destroying their lives in the process.
During the #MeToo movement, every accused was crying for his career, yet, it is easy for a TV anchor like Arnab Goswami to allegedly ask for the resignation of a government official simply because his ego is bruised. It is also easy for him to defame a doctor from a reputed hospital, without any proof of misdeed, for his own vague and immoral agenda. It is acceptable by society for a man to destroy another man’s career, but a woman, even for her dignity, cannot question a man because ‘his career will be affected’.
There are many laws that favour women in India, but only a few of them are used, and most of them fail to get justice to them. No doubt, women commit crime. Some women will be bad because this is how nature is: evil will always exist alongside good, and has been so since the beginning of humanity. Still, women get punished very easily, if not by law then by society. Nobody can deny that.
The truth is that men like victimhood, though they are, at times, the victims of a world governed by their own rules. They have jobs, social standing and power, yet, they insist on masquerading as victims. They insist that they are victims of the misdeeds perpetrated by women, who refuse to respect them. Men, who, for centuries have insulted women and still do, have the gall to play the victim. All his life, a man suffers and feels victimised. This is the very reason why feminism exists. Man is never satisfied with his life and so how can he be satisfied with any woman he has in his life?