The MeToo movement has left some men uneasy. So uneasy that scores of tasteless
jokes are being circulated and criticism in drawing room conversations and columns is rampant. Men fear that one of these days they or their friends might be accused by some ex-girlfriend or colleague of sexual harassment and they too will be labelled sexual predators. Even some women are scared that their husbands, friends and boyfriends might be falsely accused.
Such fears are unfounded. Let’s take a look at the truth. A very small percentage of men are being accused, even if one looks at it within a particular profession. There will always be black sheep so let’s accept it.
As to the fear of false accusations, this fear is also unfounded. It has been proved in cases of sexual harassment, over 90% of complaints have validity and even the other 10% of complaints may not necessarily be baseless. Just that they are difficult to prove. One has to understand that women tend to actually downplay the sexual harassment they have suffered, telling themselves that what they suffered is not important. Either it is to make themselves feel better or because their near and dear ones tell them it’s nothing. Sure, there will be women who make false accusations or exaggerate their experiences – but they are a tiny minority.
If the MeToo movement is making the average decent man nervous, the reasons are more emotional rather than logical.
After all, which man (or woman) hasn’t flirted? And yes, perhaps some of these men fear that they have crossed that fine line between flirtation and sexual harassment. Their inner fear and guilt (which is likely misplaced) makes them wary of this movement. Flirtation and courting can cross that thin line. It will not surprise me if men are confused about this distinction. Perhaps they think of it as a grey area, but really, it isn’t. It’s very simple really.
Going about flirtation and courting in an aggressive manner by touching or coming close to a woman who does not welcome it, or hitting on a woman more than once or making advances to someone who is working for you means that the line has been crossed. It is often quite obvious if the woman is uncomfortable if a man puts his arm around her or touches her or propositions her. If there is any doubt whether the advances are welcome or not, just ask if she is interested before getting physical. If it is a no, it is a no. As for sexual innuendos, lewd texts, sharing sex clips, and other pornographic material, well, certainly there is no ambiguity there.
Unfortunately, many men have been brainwashed by our movies and songs. In these movies, it is okay to proposition a woman twice, thrice, and multiple times until she says yes. Waylaying her, grabbing and stalking her is also acceptable in movies. And in movie land, the women seem to like it and even encourage it, giving small coy smiles. In reality, no woman likes it, whether she is born in 1925, 1965 or 1985. As movies are mostly made by men, sexual harassment is portrayed as normal.