With memes about a mom desperately trying to save her son from #MeToo movement going viral on social media, the campaign’s nemesis #HimToo is finally getting the attention its supporters wanted for so long. #MenToo and #HimToo represent a countermovement, a backlash against #MeToo popularized by Alyssa Milano exactly a year ago.
Rape allegation against Cristino Ronaldo brings the latest global case in a series of sexual assault/harassment revelations involving leading figures wordwide. As the Portuguese footballer faces a June 2009 case reopened against him, Bollywood star Nana Patekar continues to defend himself against Tanushree Dutta’s accusations of sexual misconduct. Kangana Ranaut has recently come out in support of an anonymous woman accusing Bollywood director Vikas Bahl of sexual molestation. The star has detailed incidents involving sexual misconduct by Bahl. As #MeTooIndia campaign picks up, veteran actor Alok Nath has also been accused of rape, while Rajat Kapoor has been accused of sexual harassment by three women. Locally, Meesha Shafi’s case against Ali Zafar has been dismissed. Meanwhile, Brett Kavanaugh swears in as the US Supreme Court Justice, after he was proven innocent in a case of sexual assault and misconduct by three women.
President Trump has declared it is a very scary time for young men in the US who can be falsely accused of sexual misconduct. He has also apologized to Kavanaugh for the pain and suffering the jurist and his family had suffered during court hearings.
Under hashtags like #MenToo and #HimToo, safety rules are being circulated for men, which include avoiding being alone or trusting “liberal” women. Mothers and wives are supporting this backlash in solidarity with men to save their sons and husbands whose lives can be destroyed anytime by false allegations.
Ostensibly, the positions are shifting. Men are emerging as the victims of women deceptively accusing them for their vested interests.The strongest rhetoric against Me Too campaign is premised on the timing, creating an impression of falsehood and accusers’ secondary motivations behind speaking out about something that happened years ago. From this perspective, then, Kathryn Mayorga is accusing Ronaldo for money. Dr. Ford was being used as a political pawn. Meesha Shafi used Ali Zafar to get media’s attention. Tanushree Dutta simply couldn’t think of any other way to make headlines. Ironically, all these women have been supported by females who had similar experiences with the accused men.
In her study on men’s and political magazines, Nancy Berns in her book on gender violence identifies that patriarchal resistance involves gendering the blame and degendering the problem, which is exactly what we see in the discourse against #MeToo. Women are being blamed with their personal choices being questioned. If Dutta was okay doing intimate scenes with Emran Hashmi, why does she have a problem with Patekar? Why was Mayorga partying with Ronaldo in Las Vegas, why would she accept the money if it wasn’t consensual? Dr. Ford’s candid laugh photographed in the courtroom is being juxtaposed with Kavanaugh’s moment of emotional breakdown. Because Ali Zafar was a gentleman with Maya Ali, he’s by default a gentleman with any other woman he had worked with. While the blame continues to be gendered towards females, there’s a simultaneous degendering of the problem. #MenToo are victims of sexual misconduct.
Me Too movement has completed a year. Many women have come out sharing their traumatic experiences, cases have been filed and some have been dismissed too. But every single woman who has spoken up against a popular figure has met a backlash on social media. It almost seems that women like Dr. Ford and Dutta have been assaulted twice – first by the accusers, and later by the people for speaking out about their assaulter.