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Journalist, Author, Columnist. My Twitter handle: @seemagoswami

Saturday, December 14, 2013

In defence of men


In a free and frank gender debate, men must be allowed to air their views – no matter how offensive we find them

First off, a confession. I find myself increasingly discomfited by the newly-minted feminist narrative in which a woman is always considered to be right and the man is always seen as being wrong. In which a woman’s word is regarded as being more reliable than a man’s, simply because she is a woman. In which a man is assumed to be guilty until he is proved innocent, turning the principles of natural justice on their head, if a woman were to level a rape or dowry charge against him. And in which men and women are depicted as antagonistic entities, engaged in pitched battles across the gender divide.

It really doesn’t have to be like that. Women’s rights are not just a feminist issue. They are a humanist issue. And we do the feminist cause a disservice when we try and shut men out of the discourse, or treat them as enemies of the movement. This is the good fight which all right-thinking human beings must fight; not just those with an extra X chromosome.

Because of our visceral reaction to such events as the Delhi gang rape last December, the gang rape of a photo-journalist in Mumbai, and more recently, the allegations of sexual assault leveled against Tarun Tejpal, we are finally talking about a woman’s right to a safe environment, at home, at the office, and on the streets. But because our rage and anger is so overwhelming, the pitch of the debate has been raised to such shrill levels that we are in danger of drowning out good sense.

The first sign of this is our absolute refusal to listen to what men are trying to say, if it doesn’t fit in with our narrative of woman=victim and man=predator. While there is no disputing that women are more at risk when it comes to sexual violence or harassment, we cannot dismiss out of hand the notion that some men may be victims too. Cases of the dowry and rape laws being misused may be rare, but they do exist. And we ignore them at our peril.

But what is also worrying is the new fashion of shouting down men who express opinions that we regard as sexist. Take Farooq Abdullah, for instance, who confessed that he was now scared of talking to women for fear of what would happen (“I don’t even want to keep a woman secretary. God forbid, there is a complaint against me and I end up in jail”). Or Naresh Aggarwal, who said that men would no longer hire women as personal assistants for fear of being accused of sexual harassment.

Whatever we may think about the mind-set that generated such sentiments, there is no denying that these sentiments do exist. These two men were just brave/foolish/foolhardy (take your pick) to say in public which many men were feeling (and expressing) in private. But given the viciousness with which they were greeted, I wouldn’t be surprised if men now run scared of even speaking out on gender issues, for fear of being shouted down, sneered at, abused, or dismissed as chauvinistic Neanderthals.

And, if you ask me, that is a real shame.

If we want to change people’s minds on issues such as women’s empowerment, sexual harassment, or even sexual assault, then it is important to engage with them in a meaningful way which facilitates dialogue and a free and frank exchange of ideas. Men may well have views that we regard as sexist but just screaming ‘pigs’ at them will not make them rethink their attitudes. It will just make them disengage from the debate and keep their views to themselves in the future. And those views will never change.
  
It is simply self-defeating to create an environment in which no man can express his true opinions on gender – however sexist we may find them – without being torn to bits by a lynch mob motivated by political correctness. Jumping down the throats of people who say things we don’t like will not result in their views being asphyxiated out of existence. These attitudes will continue to flourish in the dark, all the more potent for being unspoken and hence unchallenged. 

Also, I can’t help but feel that it is time that we injected some shades of grey into a discourse that has become too black and white to allow for a nuanced approach. The feminist movement will only benefit from acknowledging that all women don’t fit into one easy category of ‘downtrodden victim’ who must be protected at all costs. Women are human beings, and as such they have the same strengths and weaknesses, the same virtues and flaws as men. Some women are truthful; some are not. Some women are weak; some are strong. Some women are victims; some are oppressors.

To lump them all into a one-size-fits-all category smacks of intellectual laziness and a complete misunderstanding of how the real world operates. This kind of thinking doesn’t empower women; it belittles them by reducing them to easy stereotypes. True equality exists in having the same standards applied to women as they would to men, without conceding any special privilege or concession simply because they are women.

And it also means conceding the point that men have a right to their own views on the gender debate currently raging in the country – never mind how strongly we disagree with him. Feminists cannot become the Thought Police, no matter how grave the provocation.

25 comments:

Anonymous said...

Great points and very well put across.

Roni said...

Good that you started to admit that this feminist is creating more problems for women in long run than good. And about misuse of women centric laws ... pls read below:

http://nomansland1.wordpress.com/media-coverage/

ShriNaradMuni said...

And amongst all this, the movie "Grand Masti" did more than 100 crore business. Comedy nights is a hit show. But we have two lines m/f
Its a matter of opinion at convenience for a few feminists and total lack of it due to fear for all men

Melissa said...

I think you've raised salient points - but they only apply to a country where there is ALREADY not much going against women. India is NOT SUCH A COUNTRY! In India, where women are seen soooooooo poorly - they stand and serve the man who eats at the table is something happening all over the country, a rape victim isn't seen as a victim because SHE lured the rapists, and where female babies are killed so often - you have to give women a voice FIRST, because they've had NONE so far - then only can you include the men's voices.

I've seen people like Priyanka Chopra claim that India is a very forward country in terms of how they treat their women - maybe in her bubble of bollywood - the same way rich indian ladies say that too, cos maybe that's how it is in THEIR bubble - but if you look at the WHOLE OF INDIA, women are seen as worth nothing in MANY MANY PLACES - and this must change with WOMEN'S VOICES ONLY - for the time being.

As for men airing views that they are scared about hiring/talking to females just cos females have finally found a voice - they are being irrational! And rather stupid really. Pulease! A man can be as much a liar and abusive of power as a woman can, so the men's argument is as ludicrous as a woman boss saying she doesn't want to hire any men cos of the fear of being raped! There are bad people in BOTH genders, a person with INTELLECT will see that you don't have to be prejudice against EVERYONE of that gender cos of that. It's like if a murderer turned out to be a Chinese, does that mean you are scared of ALL Chinese? NO! Not if you have a brain. I assume men have brains, don't they? So their irrational fear should not be there, so why give a voice to such brainless arguments? It serves no purpose, except to bring back women to this sad state where they are seen as nothing. Is that what you want?

Anonymous said...

OMG thank you sooo much Seema Goswami! Great to know some sane people are supporting this issue. I've been getting increasingly disillusioned with current radical feminists. I've always fought against injustice for men and women both. But of late discussions with former feminist friends have been taking a turn for the worse. I really hope people stop blaming men, especially innocent sweet men, who are actually fighting on the right side but have to face the wrath. (Because you really don't expect radical feminists to march into a slum and yell at some gunda, the real misogynist).
Thanks once again!

Mohit Sharma "Trendster" said...

Namastey! Seema ji. :) Thank you for considering these aspects, valid points in this blog post. In my opinion cases of false accusations of rape, dowry, molestation are comparatively less but not at all rare. (Btw, in a country of 1300 Million people even 4-5% is bigger than 2 x Australia population). HUGE! Its just that there is humongous difference in footage, punishment given to such crimes. Even a claim of a woman can become headline (if the claim is wrong no one bothers to cover, followup the story).

What I also noticed that often women say a lot of negative sweeping, generalized, insulting statements for men as a group and for individual males & they get away with that so easily...& some even praised by broadminded people, media (further encouraging them & others to continue this trend) without being fired, without being sued by some random publicity seeker or becoming national villain in different forms of media for days...for example Rakhi Sawant once called a vegetable vendor on her show "Napunsak" (impotent)...and later that depressed guy committed suicide. Now reverse the case imagine a male celebrity calling a village woman "Baanjh" on his show....campaigns against him online, in many cities, media channels telling people on what charges he can be sued, ruined career, jail term and permanent label of "male chauvinist pig." For calling "Baanjh" only and if that lady commits suicide...boom!! This happens all the time, but this is so regular that we stopped noticing such double standards in our society.

Capt Sharma said...

A Voice of Sanity is resounding and downs the din of shrill noises of perpetual 'Wolf', where there is none. A man's first relation is with a woman who caries him for 9 months, cares for him, makes him learn how to walk- 'a mother', then there are sisters around, whose presence teaches him his duties towards protecting his sisters courtesy yearly 'Rakhi'...regrettably, this man is made to cut-off his relationship with his mother , the day he gets married, a part of him dies, he is rendered rootless, mostly the man agrees thinking, that come what may, my mother is going to remain my mother , let me try to accommodate the desire of my spouse...thereafter, the man is under perpetual test.."How much more you can sacrifice for my happiness"....I have come across marriages falling apart after even 20 years....because there comes a time,... when Man can take no more...One may read the interview of husband of Ms Kiran Bedi to draw a conclusion..the woman Biased Laws which label a man as Criminal in eyes of law , just because he was born as a man , is dividing the society, overnight engineers, doctors become criminals and have to share cold floor along with murderers and rapists in Jails..Dr Helen Smith is a Forensic Psychologist has authored "Men on Strike"... She speaks the truth. ..American Men have gone on strike from marriage.... And they have good reason....And soon it shall happen in India too...may be that is what the Government of the day wants... which was so vociferously attacking SC Judgment against Gay Laws...the sponsoring thought behind enacting of such women biased laws...is to turn this country into a country of 'Gays and Lesbians' as a solution to all the problems of society...more population..more mouths to feed..less per capita land..sky rocketing inflation..What a joke!!! OVER Eons....Men have fought to protect the honour of their women. ... a sad commentary on state of affairs...New IrBM law..will empower wives to such an extent that they will start having their way in complete defiance of family norms...threatening..." Be a silent spectator..to my affairs...otherwise..firstly I will send you behind bars by just writing '5' lines of dowry harassment..secondly I will walk away with all your property..your ancestral property ....and defame your family name too...Within '5' years of IrBM... you can see that Indian Culture would have been shredded and fed to western dogs to feed on it and rejoice...who are afraid of highest number of English speaking youths in the World....of whose origins 1% population is contributing 9% of engineers and doctors in American Society....Only way...the progress of such a nation can be thwarted is by striking at its root of strength..the "Family System" ..The requests.... protests ...against such a law have been put into dustbin....Not even God can save this country's downfall now...

Gursharn Singh said...

Dear Seema,
Whenever commenting about any senstice Issue please read statastics first. I have strong objection on one cmnt in your blog.

/// Cases of the dowry and rape laws being misused may be rare ///


Please varify stastics :
As per NCRB data Table 4.11

Cases in section IPC498A

CASE WITHDRAWN BY GOVT : 0.1
COMPOUNDED: 1.9
CONVICTED : 1.6
ACQUITTED/DISCHARGED 9.2

Data Table Available on
http://ncrb.gov.in/

And the Same table Available on

www.daman-kanpur.in

Gursharn Singh said...

The blog is supported by Statistics

As per NCRB Data Table 4.11

Cases filled in IPC498A

Cases Withdrawn 0.1
Compounded 1.9
Convicted 1.6
Acquitted/Discharged 9.2
Pending Trail 87.3



http://ncrb.gov.in/

also available on www.daman-kanpur.in

Ajhay U Waghmare said...

Too Good!
dare any so called feminist write in such a balanced manner! Never...

read my post on how this "woman empowerment" is a potential trap for woman rather than their safety

http://indian-demo-crazy.blogspot.in/

498avictim said...

Dear Madam,

It is really good to see that more and more sensible women are raising their voice against Gender biased environment and chocking situation of men. You must deserve a thank from my heart.

It is very enjoyable trend to point the finger at men, whatever the situation is, whatever the truth is. And the Myth of "Men-dominated-World" plays a major role here. The myth has so strong that Indian men have ZERO protection Law for them where Indian Women have powerof49. Being Indian men, they are missing a Welfare Ministry where Indian Animal have one. Though Indian male are 78% tax payee, Really A "Men-dominated-World".

I like to draw your attention on your statement "Cases of the dowry and rape laws being misused may be rare". ctually the reverse is the TRUE. 98% misuse. If you consider the NCRB statistics you will find 98% cases are false and filed to extort money, suppress own wrong doings, to fulfill revenge. That's why SC of India has pointed out IPC 498a as "Legal Terrorism". There are many guide lines / circulars to stop the abuse, but nothing has worked out yet. And the result due the these Gender biased Laws are 65000 husband suicide. (as per NCRB), meaning one suicide every 9 min. The sisters, mothers of these husbands
are also women. How can we protect these women ?

Even The HC has requested the parents to stop filing false rape cases rape cases. http://www.avoiceformen.com/allnews/delhi-judge-instructs-parents-to-quit-filing-false-rape-charges/

Bombay HC : Affair gone bad no ground for rape charge
http://terminatorak.wordpress.com/2013/07/12/bombay-hc-affair-gone-bad-no-ground-for-rape-charge/

We can't punish the 98% innocent because of 2% real cases. What mechanism do we have to give the dignity back to those 98% families ? NOTHING; and more shocking, there is no provision against these 98% abuser. If this trend continues, very soon we shall achieve a Fatherless Society.
Even then we shall blame men for that situation too !!

Andre-Louis Moreau said...

Thanks for the blog. It's far too late for many men, myself very much included. I'll not, nor will I ever entertain any notion feminism is any "friend" to men, nor any advocate for equality, nor an advocate for anything beneficial to society.

Voices like yours are great, I hope yours does some good!

I do find this statement debatable, "While there is no disputing that women are more at risk when it comes to sexual violence or harassment..." Feminism's unofficial, but loud "info control department" can use select info sources, and suppress the more accurate statistics and studies that reveal gender symmetry. It is at least questionable. What's not questionable is that the civil liberties of men are being denied, as women become "more equal" in courts of Law.

And more equal in society. Isn't that what your blog already concedes, as men are shouted down and out of society itself. Honestly it takes a lot to speak out, most men will not and keep silent as you write about. The reality you wrote of is accurate regarding what's in store for few, like myself, who brave the insults to speak out... For instance, IVAWA, I speak against that for excluding half the population. Though I'm an active humanist, even locally. For my efforts and knowledge I can bring to light on its ill effects of excluding men who are 75% of the victims of violence. For that knowledge, I'm a misogynist, according to feminists? Whatever, this is but only one divide you can not mend. I'm no misogynist, I assure you. Yet, I'm a man. As such, I already know the worth of my good and sincere word spoken to the contrary to feminism... "Who cares?" I know very well they don't.

Anonymous said...

False Dowry harassment cases are not rare but genuine case are rare. conviction rate of dowry harassment cases are 18% Src NCRB in lower court which sometimes do to increase stats whereas when it reach higher court or even supreme court it conviction rate is 2%. Dowry death defn is botch to increase stats to please femininst, any unnatural death of women during 7 years of marriage is by default dowry death pls check sec 304B of IPC and person is held guilty and he has to prove innocence that's not even in case of murder. No law is term as legal terrorism as dowry harassment law (498a). Moving to rape case internal report of police says that 75% rape cases are consensual after relationship turns soar converted to rape to extort , revenge and so on. Take internal court analysis too, i'm not interested how media report which are dominated by feminist and left view.

harshinder said...

Men are perceived either as protector/provider or as perpetrators of voilence(physical & / or emotional).
They simply cannot be on the reciving end of any kind of abuse. Read on:
http://indianhusbands.blogspot.in/2010/02/my-dear-sachin-tendulkar.html#links

http://aimwa.in/male-disposability-%e2%80%93-myth-or-reality

Jinesh Zaveri said...

:)

Mutual Co existence is very essential in this gender ecosystem.

Thank You for this article.

Anubhuti said...

I totally agree with you on this one. So busy are ppl maligning men that they miss the point entirely.

On a seperate note, I love your columns and look forward to them. I too write a little and wrote something similar, should you want to have a look.

http://isight-anubhuti.blogspot.in/2013/11/a-few-good-men.html

Jiten Vaidya said...

COMMENT 1

Dear Ms.Goswami:
It's a pity that the Hindustan Times is the only national broadsheet to have the courage to publish your balanced and reasoned POV.

Nevertheless, most men (supporters of first wave, 'equality' feminism), excluding those who are vocal supporters of the third and fourth wave, shrill and shilling feminism); know that a small but media savvy radicals, are seeking gender polarisation. This dynamic is their bread and butter. It keeps them in business whereby they earn their living wages by promoting gender apartheid and antagonism.

This is not to excuse from redress all or excise from record, the genuine grievances and inhumanity in our lives. But, it stands to reason, is it women alone who suffer? Why indeed are 'empathic' women blind to the difficulties and trials of male lives? Are we indeed to believe that men are truly the disposable gender? To be condemned and corralled, castigated and cajoled, by the uniformly manipulative women, for the latter's benefit and existential whimsy? Because men who would otherwise be sympathetic and supportive of women's woes, will out of women's earshot, confide that they are torn between their ethical leanings and their restrained anger / disappointment with being painted by a broad brush. How, by what righteous indignation or reasoned inquiry, does the radical feminist justify blaming ALL PRESENT AND FUTURE MALES (Adult men and minor boys), for the misdeed and misdemeanour of, SOME PAST AND PRESENT MALES?

Your article, appeared ten days before Camille Paglia's article in Time.com (December 16, 2013), which is a transcript of her opening remark at Canada's Munk Debate forum. She speaks of a misplaced triumphalism, which is decidedly rooted in a media projection of feminist superiority. Itself a consumerist hobby horse and tool. It also, requires the constant denigration of masculinity and demands an infantilism bordering on worshipping the feminine and female from the very men who are being harangued. Why should men be complicit in this charade? Is this the supposed ransom to be extracted for birth from the womb? If so, are we then to suppose that all feminine and female demands and needs should be analysed in the light of an economic transaction? Where does that leave respect for human beings? The very thing that the feminists claim to pursue. The circularity of their reasoning as well as the contrarian dynamics of their drive and action is plain for men to see. Those who aren't, will begin to see it shortly, when the impact on the pairbond, brood and community begins to show.
These are our Great Indian Society's early days of infatuation with a flawed version of irresponsibility and shortsighted liberation, the final destination of which has not and will not be deliberated, let alone defined.

Jiten Vaidya said...

COMMENT PART 2

So, though your article has raised valid points, you will be unjustly vilified by the radical feminists. The TweetDrizzle resulting from your initial tweet on this article, is a forecast of that cloudy, rainy tempest, that has swamped many industrializing and consumerist societies, and its morphosis is tracing a familiar arc.

Finally, the men will see your article for a contrarian and sympathetic screed, but will dismiss it (hopefully not the majority) as a proxy attempt to soften the punch for the radical feminists. A nudge for the men, with a wink wink to the women. I personally believe, that your could have made a much deeper and stronger argument, but either the lack of column inches, or the slow germination of a reasoned appeal, or likely some combination of both those constraints, prevented your strongest expression in words.

I hope you will consider my response, as a note of gratitude for having even broached the matter. That requires a conscience and calm consideration, when all, both men and women, are going berserk. It is also, a humble critique and strong support, to what hopefully will be a more audible course corrective, in modern India's slow but sure search for living humanism.

Sincerely,
Jiten Vaidya

Feroz said...

As a species, men have swung between brutality and guilt. Women have humoured the beast or manipulated him. Total submission by women has invited his contempt and the attempts at total emasculation have triggered his savagery. Smart women have used his ego to have their way whereas the women with egos have fought a pointless battle. Evolution hasn't altered the fundamentals of the battle of the sexes.

Abhimanyu Veer said...

This is article is a wonderful relief from the rehashed-to-death diatribes of people who wish to be chivalrous to women but refuse to go out and see how things actually are. .....Bravo Seema!

Sanjeev Nair said...

Interesting, thought provoking and frankly something that needed to be put out there. So thanks. But can I please make one really pedantic suggestion? Kindly change that reference to X cromosomes to 'those with 2 X chromosomes'.
A female should have 2 X chromosomes. XO while phenotypically a girl is Turner syndrome and an 'extra' X chromsosme would be XXY which is phenotypically a male and Klinefelter syndrome. Sorry!

Anonymous said...

thank god, somebody has voiced what i think most men feel, political correctness is allready taken to extremes abroad , and it looks like we r following suit

Anonymous said...

Two times I attempted to talk and my "manhood" was shoved on my face. I just felt gagged and unheard.

Siddhant said...

Its time when we have stopped thinking rationally. If you personify India and try to scan the time it has seen in the last 2 or 3 years, you will feel shattered by the suffering it has gone through. By suffering I am not referring to rapes, crime and other heinous acts, I mean to point at the rage with which people start their day till the time they turn off their night lamps. Are we happy? NO, we aren't!

Their is a void in cities and villages which should be filled with time in a developing nation like India. The void continues to grow wider.

Today we have classified an independent woman as someone who has a job and earns money. Why?... because we borrow definitions from the west. Haven't we ignored, sidelined millions of Indian women who have worked all their lives as housewives? Haven't they contributed to the family growth? The society makes them feel all you did for your family was useless. You were a mere housewife or paradoxically a jobless homemaker!

Rama Krishna Rao, ABS said...

madam, i just came across your blog site! I truly admire your balanced way of looking at things and the way you analyze and present! Congrats!