This blog has been written by Sindhu Abbasi, Member of DRF’s Network of Women Journalists for Digital Rights.
How many times have you heard ‘just get over it’ and ‘just block’ when you’ve complained about a man hurling rape threats to you online? Those men who tell you that you should maybe kill yourself because you dare to voice to opinion on something they consider their ‘area’? How many times have you screenshot-ted those messages, or better yet, sent them to someone in their friendlist?
Despite the hysteria stirred by some “objective” people against naming and shaming and #metoo, truth is many women still do not feel comfortable or safe naming and shaming. The reason? The guilt and victim-blaming internalised by women due to societal misogyny.
Be it the girl children being harassed by their uncles, college girls being cat-called or working women fighting their superior’s overtures, a lot of women do not see the point of coming forward with publicly identifying and shaming their perpetrators.
Yet, some people, mostly men, have stirred up hysteria against “lives being ruined” by the #metoo–a pattern similar to doubting victims when they report rape offline too. The fact that it has been proved by research that less than 2% of reported rapes are false claims, the victim-blaming mentality conveniently forgets the rape culture and the impossibility in some cases to provide messages, screenshots or other such evidence.
The same mentality leads people to give a knee-jerk reaction to claims of harassment against men, especially if they are famous. One wonders why can’t the same research on rape be applied here too? Of course, the fact that the internet provides anonymity complicates the situation, but it doesn’t mean the claims are dismissed altogether. A recent example is the accuser of US Supreme Court Judge Kavanaugh, then a nominee, who kept her accusations anonymous until she finally decided to come forward. Her accusations were not only probed further by media but also resulted in more of Kavanaugh’s victims to tell their stories to media. Media also dug deeper into the matters of Bill Cosby and Jimmy Saville.
While the trend of naming and shaming can and might have been misused, it is preposterous to claim it is ruining lives of innocent men. And it is a great disservice to the survivors who might have no way other than remaining anonymous to name and shame their abusers.