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Are We Dismissing The #MeToo Allegations Against Anurag Kashyap Too Quickly? Not Every Woman’s Experience Is The Same.

September 23, 2020 | by Jinal Bhatt

Bollywood isn’t exactly a happy place right now. It’s a bit too noisy, because of allegations of every possible vice on Earth being flung at its people—from alleged drug abuse, conspiracy to murder to sexual harassment. The latest in the line of fire is Gangs of Wasseypur filmmaker Anurag Kashyap, who has been accused by actress Payal Ghosh of sexual misconduct. Ghosh’s complaint has been filed and she has garnered the support of Kangana Ranaut. Meanwhile, Kashyap has also issued an official statement from his lawyer, denying the allegations. Ghosh had mentioned actresses like Richa Chadha, Mahie Gill and Huma Qureshi while voicing her own #MeToo story. However, Chadha has countered this claim by filing a complaint of her own against Ghosh, while Mahie has distanced herself from the controversy altogether.

Now of course, if allegations have beed made in a public domain, a social media trial is inevitable. It’s the trend du jour, isn’t it, for people to play judge, jury and executioner. There’s a section of the public that believes Kashyap could be guilty. Why? Because he allegedly did substance abuse and got married twice. Others believe that this is merely a political power gimmick, since the Choked directer is a vocal dissenter of the current government, as well as one of the industry members who sought justice for Rhea Chakraborty during her ridiculous media trial.

Some of the actresses who worked with Anurag Kashyap, including his former wife Kalki Koechlin, have spoken up in defence of the actor. Taapsee Pannu called him the biggest feminist she knows, while Saiyami’s post from a few months ago about Kashyap being different from the public perception of him also went viral. Some other women in his usual film crew also vouched for him.

In the past few days, we’ve seen how easy it is for the common man to sway in favour of any narrative that is sold to them with conviction. We’ve got a posse of news anchors who’ve made it their trademark to procure ‘exclusive’ private details about people’s lives to expose them, or shout a statement out so loud and repeatedly that people watching are convinced that it is the truth and nothing else matters. Of course, these aren’t the only two ways.

Also Read: Kalki Koechlin, Radhika Apte, Taapsee Pannu And Other Actresses Back Anurag Kashyap Amidst #MeToo Allegations By Payal Ghosh

When so many A-list actress stood up in support of Anurag Kashyap, including his former wife, it sent out a message. If so many women equivocally think that this man is not a pervert, then he mustn’t be so. His ex-wife said he is a feminist who stood up for her even before they were together and after they separated. He is so outspoken over women’s issues. There have been no other complaints about him. Clearly, these allegations must be wrong. Right?

Mind you, none of this makes a difference to the politically motivated trolls or people who choose to not be skeptical of the narrative. No, these are the thoughts of the more liberal thinkers, who’re aware that this could all probably be a political gimmick after all. It is for those people that it is important to understand…. Just because a man has been defended by a few women, it does not mean he is innocent. Every woman’s experience with a man can be different, and one woman’s experience does not negate that of another.

What does this mean? Are we saying that yes, Anurag Kashyap could still have misbehaved with Payal Ghosh? That isn’t for us to decide. It never was. But what we need to grasp is that men who are predators or simply perverts are probably not so with all women. Some could have a type, or could have the behaviour triggered by being under the influence of a substance. And some men could also be looking at easy targets, while avoiding those that might expose their predatory behaviour or get them caught.

According to BBC, a study conducted by Glasgow University of almost a 1000 women suggested that more than 90% of rape and sexual assault victims know their attacker. The study found that only 9% of the perpetrators were unknown to their victims, while 23% women claimed to have been assaulted by their partners or ex-partners, or a family member. A staggering 44% reported that they were sexually assaulted by “another known person”. What these statistics suggest is the most men who prey on women have interpersonal relations with them or other women, but not all of these women have the same experience with the perps.

We see a lot of this in India, where mothers of convicted rapists and sexual assaulters will continue to deny that their son could never do such a thing, because he’d never even hurt a fly. Or that no other woman has ever complained about his behaviour. We’ve seen perps with sisters, wives, daughters and female friends who have all stood to defend them in the face of allegations, sometimes until the very point of their conviction. In fact, the very clap back that is made to stop eve teasers and lechers or perverts from eyeing a woman wrongly is to ask them, “Ghar mein maa-behen nahi hai kya?” which clearly indicates that these men respect the women they are related to, but can have hurtful intentions towards other women not related to them. We’ve seen countless examples of men who have committed crimes against women with their families having no clue about these men’s violent, predatory tendencies. They’ve raped or assaulted women, then gone back home to play dutiful sons, friendly brothers, loving husbands, doting fathers or favourite uncles to their loved ones.

You could blame it on the repression that is an inherent part of Indian culture, but the fact is, it is a human instinct to keep our deepest , darkest desires and behaviours secret, and they only manifest in certain situations, not before everyone. There’s also a power dynamic involved here, where men only behave this way with women they can assert power over.

The point of this discussion, then, is that no matter who vouches for a man’s character against a #MeToo allegation, we shouldn’t be too dismissive too quickly of it. To speak up of such a traumatic incident is already difficult for a woman. If we begin dismissing their stories on the basis of other women defending the accused, we’ll probably never be able to convict any man. And we do run the risk of falling into the same trap we’ve been vehemently fighting against, that providing the proof of the crime falls on the shoulders of the victim.

That being said, holding a woman who has gone public with her story accountable to see it through to the end is only fair. Payal Ghosh has filed an official FIR against Anurag Kashyap, and she should get our full support as she pursues this. If it is found that she misused the #MeToo movement for her personal/political vendetta, then a legal course of action must be pursued against her as well. It is for the law enforcement to do their due diligence and get the truth out.

Also Read: #MeToo: Model Dimple Paul Shares Details Of Sajid Khan’s Alleged Sexual Misconduct. Why Is He Still Not Being Investigated?

Jinal Bhatt

Sharp-tongued feminist. Proud nerd. Opinions with on-point pop-culture references about films, books, your toxic BF, the patriarchy, and the Oxford comma.

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