SEEMA MUSTAFA | 2 NOVEMBER, 2017
Now A Second List of Sexual Offenders That No 'Feminist' Takes Open Responsibility For: What Next?
NEW DELHI: What kind of feminism is it that makes a respected Professor wrote an anguished note, urging those who placed him on a list of sexual harassers, at least show the courtesy of giving details of the said ‘crime’, the how, where, when that one would have expected to accompany such a grave allegation?
And while the feminist who apparently made the ‘list’ of notables famous backed off in a garbled response---and has gone off Facebook since---the Pandora’s box that has been opened since now refuses to shut. The #MeToo campaign over and done with in other cities of the world, has gone on a spiral in India with women virtually at each other’s throats in what has become an extremely divisive campaign here. And of course elitist too!
A second list is out---and now the feminists of one hue allege that it is a counter list by feminists of the other hue. In that the second list tends to prove that even those who were supporting the first list are “sexual offenders” and hence the first list was compiled with political motives. Those who had supported the first list can be heard complaining on FB, and on the email and WhatsApp, that the second list has been brought out by ‘vindictive’ women (and perhaps not all women) to attack the Dalits as some of their organisations were seen to be behind the first list.
Well so is everyone trying to follow this flaming row that shows little sign of abating, and has Disaster written all over it. Lynch lists, without proof of any kind, are being banded about and while a Professor like Partha Chatterjee has access to the media and the stature to be taken seriously, this is not true of many of the young persons named in these anonymous lists that no one is really taking responsibility for. Not even Raya Sarkar who has backed off from the first list, and the second one now in circulation does not even have a single name behind it.
It’s just a lynch list and we have to believe it as it is coming from feminists, and their word is law.
Without going into great length let me define just three points why such lists are dangerous. Have touched upon it earlier, but it needs to be driven home clearly as the ‘feminists’ seem to be on a roll, and are refusing to understand how wrong and problematic these ‘hangings’ are.
1. A lynch list can destroy the men named there, as they are damned without a trial. The accuser is anonymous, the complaint’s go back decades even, and as scholar Partha Chatterjee has so effectively stated, what is the allegation, what is the complaint? No one repeat no one can take this kind of power, and in the name of a campaign hurl such serious accusations with the aim of destroying the men on what clearly seem to be highly arbitrary lists. And even if not, it still does not give the individual woman---no matter how self righteous---to name and shame a person outside the court of law.
2. It is highly un-democratic and in violation of the rule of law we have struggled our entire lives for. The right wing has been hanging targeted communities with the argument “they ate beef.” Those opposing them on the streets and in court argue that one, where is the proof; and two, it is for the courts to decide and not the mobs whether these persons are guilty or not. True the men are not being hanged, just named and shamed, but if innocent it is as good as a lynching. Besides, who is to establish that the accuser did not read more into the incident than was intended? That by the way dear feminists has been known to happen. More oft than not. Remember Khurshid Anwar who committed suicide over an allegation, that led to a trial in the media and where he was not given a chance to explain? A tragic incident that should serve as a warning and a lesson both for all of us tempted to ‘order’ a ‘trial’ outside the courtroom, and ‘hang’ the person as well.
3. These anonymous lists that no one takes responsibility for, are sinister. Real men are mentioned there,without the women. The underlying statement seems to be, ‘we women are saying this, so believe it.’ Well I am sure many will agree that there is a problem with that self righteous position as women are as human as men, and being a feminist certainly does not place any one on a moral pedestal. These lists thus open the way for any number of lists, exploitation of the opening by political vested interests, and a free for all where any and every other man is targeted. There are some who will respond and fight back if they have the stature of say Partha Chatterjee, there are others who will be quiet and wait for the storm to be over, but then there will be many others who will---like Anwar---feel the pressure of the public hanging, and might find it impossible to recover from it.
The argument being offered is, ‘well if they did it to us, then we can do it to them’. Sure, but if they did it under cover of the patriarchal system that is all pervasive and operates outside the law, does it stand to reason that we use the feminist cover to bypass the rule of law as well. And in the process turn into a lynch mob by publishing and circulating lists that are not verified, and where the fault might range from nothing (as the opening given by these lists will be exploited ---as it is already being---by interests more political than the young women swaying under a sense of their social media power) to a passing innuendo to a proposition to actual physical assault. But the gradations are lost in this sea of uniformity where the one is rolled into the other, to a point where guilt is being heaped on men who might not be as guilty as it is being made to appear.
Interestingly, so far the lists have included Left scholars, Dalits and Muslims. Noteworthy in a country as diverse as India, no?