Has the #MeToo movement become a racket?

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Pradip Rodrigues

Much has been written about the #MeToo movement in the past year and the world has watched in horror and dismay as scores of icons and personalities at the top of their game have been professionally assassinated. Most of those accused in the west have been found guilty in the court of public opinion. Many men have been brought down by mere allegations made on social media.
As I write this, India is in the grips of this so-called #MeToo movement that is in the process of destroying, damaging or embarrassing many Indian celebrities and personalities.

I happen to personally know one very prominent ‘victim’ very well and three of the men accused of sexual wrongdoing and I have to honestly say that some of the claims are breathtaking and could well be dishonest.

Here are some of my observations based on all that has happened in the west and India as far as this #MeToo racket goes.

The men and women who’ve come out publically tend to come from creative fields. The women are highly educated, articulate and come from a rarified strata of society.

One ‘victim’ in India who I socialized with during the time she was allegedly ‘raped’ and harassed was in a live-in relationship and was most unconventional and liberated in her thinking, attitude and demeanour. Few men would dare mess with this liberated woman who could drink many of the men she hung out with under the table and was not above slapping a misbehaving pervert. Nothing about her suggested that she was traumatized by a sexual encounter or anything. As far as all of us knew, she was at the top of her game and was one of the most successful women in her field. So 20 years later when I read her story and watch her on television discussing her ‘trauma’, I don’t know if any of this stuff happened in reel life or real life.

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Now about the men who’ve been accused of harassing and propositioning women they knew or worked with. The men I knew were fun loving and yes they loved flirting and talking dirty with women they thought were okay with it. Did they go too far when they had one too many? Sure, I’ve witnessed innumerable encounters at social events and yes there have been instances where the situation slid out of control.

The men being accused would be the first to apologize and make amends the very next day if their bad behavior was called out. And I am very sure they would not be harassing the same woman who repeatedly rebuffed their amorous overtures. The trouble is that many of the women I knew back then and perhaps even now tended to give men, including myself, mixed signals. At times it was easy to make a mistake and go down a slippery slope only to regret it later, more like ten to 20 years later!

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Many of the women who are claiming they were victims of rapacious male monsters quite possibly have an axe to grind with the men they are now publicly humiliating.
The #MeToo movement in India has become nothing more than malicious entertainment for the masses.

I suspect that several more personalities will be outed on social media and more reputations will be dragged through the mud. They will be accused of misusing their power and taking advantage of pretty models, aspiring film actresses and other creative types who hung around their offices or went out to dinner and drinks with them hoping to catch a break. No one will ever question the signals these women gave men in power. It is not politically correct to do so.

I have witnessed many of these aspiring actresses and other women personalities back in the day literally throwing themselves at these powerful men. Many of these encounters were strictly transactional and so I strongly believe that women now making these public allegations also need to take some responsibility for how things turned out.

Destroying the reputation of flawed men years after the alleged incident is unfair. This is more a case of someone taking revenge for the man not sticking to his part of the bargain.

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I know of cases where women were quite prepared to seduce and sleep with someone in a position to help further their fledgling careers. Sure many men I know were guilty of making false promises and giving false hope to a large number of these gorgeous young women only to use and abuse them. They include photographers, ad film-makers, film stars and a bunch of media personalities who had the power to make or break careers. Should these men now be ruined and shamed? Absolutely not. But I do think that if someone felt victimized and violated in the past, he or she should confront their one-time nemesis and extract a personal apology. And everyone should then move on. This #MeToo racket is not about justice, it is about revenge. And I suspect it is a case of mass hysteria.

I do feel sorry for genuine victims of sexual assaults but I am skeptical about the kind of ‘victims’ coming forward. By coming forward these women are getting their 15-minutes of fame as well as satisfying their desire for burning revenge. It is unlikely that a middle-class secretary or a hotel receptionist who endured harassment and unwanted physical encounters from her bosses or co-workers would ever go public unless of course both parties happen to have achieved a measure of professional success. After all the #MeToo movement is governed and steered by a star-studded cast representing men and women from mostly privileged backgrounds. CINEWS

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