The boy was young and handsome.
Above all he worked for her husband, who was the captain of the King’s guard.
“Lie with me” she commanded the boy. “I cannot. It is against God and my employer” replied the boy.
She was overcome by lust and kept pestering him every time she met him in their vast palace and the boy tactfully avoided her.
She hatched a plan and send away all the other servants. The boy was unaware of his mistress’ plan and reached the palace as usual for his daily duties.
She accosted him and catching hold of his cloak, once again demanded that he sleep with her. He extricated himself from her clutch and ran out of the palace, leaving his cloak behind.
Humiliated once again she decided to exact revenge on the boy .Equipped with the piece of garment as evidence, she concocted a story of attempted rape. The boy was arrested and thrown into prison.
This is the story of Joseph and Potiphar’s wife from the Bible, which is probably the earliest instance of men being falsely accused of sexual harassment by women.
Few days ago, Indian film director, Anurag Kashyap was accused of sexual harassment. Actor Payal Ghosh made sensational allegations of abuse against Kashyap on social media and tagged Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The alleged abuse dates back to 2014.
Generally, when such an allegation is made against a man, presumed verdict is guilty even before trial. Friends and well wishers, both male and female take a neutral stand or gives anodyne sound bites to the media.
In this case, defying all received behavioural trends, support has been pouring out from both his female and male friends. Twice married Anurag had both his ex wives rising to his defense. His first wife Arti Bajaj called it as “the Cheapest stunt I have seen till now” while his second wife Kalki Koechelin send him a heart warming message “ You have stood up for my integrity even after our divorce, and you have supported me when I felt unsafe in a work environment even before we got together.’
Richa Chadha whose name has been dragged by Payal Ghosh in the #MeToo allegations against Anurag Kashyap , has issued a statement through her lawyer . A portion from her statement read, ‘No woman should misuse the liberty to harass other women with unsubstantial or nonexistent, false and baseless allegations.’
Yet another actor Elnaaz Norouzi too stood up for him and recalled how he modified a sex scene in Sacred Games because she was not comfortable with nudity.
Anurag Kashyap has not been arrested or questioned yet. He is not yet on trial before a court. Other than the information from media reports and tweets, we do not know the verity of the accusations. But it once again laid bare how a woman can bring a man’s honour and life to trial and possibly get away with it .
I am not a feminist or misandrist. I am a teacher who had ample opportunities to observe boys and girls of all ages within and outside the classroom, with and without drawing their attention.
As a mother of two boys aged 20 and 13, I cannot shed off the underlying fear of my boys being falsely implicated for harassment.
As a female, I never experienced harassment from my male colleagues. But as a mother I had my heart in my mouth moment when my younger son was accused of harassing a girl.
He was an 8 year old then. A girl in his class liked him but the affection was not mutual. He had spoken to me about the girl’s constant pestering for attention and I had instructed him to ignore and never create any situation where he finds himself alone with her. I was a teacher in the same school and the classrooms and corridors were monitored using CCTV cameras. One day I was called to the Principal’s office where she explained to me that the girl’s mother has approached the school accusing my son of troubling her. She did not use the word harassment, instead diluted the same with a list of juvenile crimes like teasing, hiding her stationery etc.
My son denied all allegations and I believed him. A week’s CCTV footage was reviewed which did not match any of the instances or situations which the girl had described to her mother. Finally she came out clear by accepting that she was lying and she did not mean any harm, thus clearing my son’s name. Considering that she is just an 8 year old, she was counselled and let off.
Extreme feminists might remark that men had it coming or as a collateral damage of the almost 4000 years of power which men held over women in a patriarchal society. Patriarchy is real, and it is the way that the world is organized around gender — to benefit men. It is the beliefs, behaviours, practices and ideas that are embedded in institutions and social practices. It is the reality we created, the very air that we breathe. This power imbalance is what causes sexual harassment, rape, prostitution, foeticide and femicide
Sexual harassment is not about an individual problem or few bad apples but about understanding that at the root of all of these problems is a culture of toxic masculinity
In society, boys are trained to think that they need to be self-sufficient without asking for help; acting tough even if they feel scared; adhering to rigid masculine gender roles; having as many sexual partners as they can; and exerting aggression and control.
To seduce or flirt with as many men or women possible equals popularity and earns adjectives like cool and macho. He is conditioned to associate, being sensitive, being attuned to emotions, caring about relationships, expressing sadness and shedding tears as girly or feminine. Gen Z has assigned a new term to a man who deviates from his socially defined domineering version and is a typical Nice Guy who rises to a girl’s defense or talk about women’s issues -a simp
While girls are given Barbie dolls to play with, and they are conditioned to become sexy, passive beings who do not know how to set boundaries on their physical, sexual, emotional spaces. Movies and media make sure that girls are groomed as princesses waiting for horse-riding, rich and good-looking princess to come and save them, whilst being moulded into more submission, sexualisation and passivity. Anyone who deviated from this role was termed as a feminist.
With the growth of feminism, and Me Too Movement, while most women came out their closets and boldly risked the scrutiny of her personal life, some recognised the power she had over a man at workplace. She realized that she can bring down even a country’s head or the CEO of a company by using the same power which was used against her. The very term of sexual harassment has now become a Damocles sword for men.
Some used it to exact revenge. The accused men were caught between rock and a hard place. He struggled making his case in the court of public opinion when the standard is to believe women due to the history of violence against her.
If he denies the accusation thereby calling a woman a liar, even if he is innocent of what he is being accused of, he is still guilty of calling a woman a liar. If you doesn’t deny it, then he is thought to be guilty.
Even an accidental brushing against a woman in a crowded place or transport would result in the man being beaten up. No questions asked.
It is unfair to assume that if one gender has been persecuted for a long time, taking that as an allowance, you rob the other gender of its rights. Due to many cases of false sexual harassment cases being in the lime light, and the Men Too Movement, the young generation is unbinding themselves from the myopic view of gender discrimination.
Our real hope is in the young generation who can build an egalitarian society, where all genders unite and strive for human rights without each gender engaging in their own personal fight for equities.