I thought a lot about how to write this piece. Simply saying #MenAreTrash would be too twitter-esque, providing evidence to support #MenAreTrash would be rubbished, because I would be told that I was looking for proof in an ‘echo chamber’. Then I came across ‘The 7 Cs of Building an Argument’, and they go like this:
1.Consider the Situation
#MenAreTrash is always met with a range of emotions. The most familiar and popular ones being rage, rape and death threats, followed by some women* engaging in pick-me behaviour to pacify and validate enraged men.
History is evidence to the fact that whenever humanity has faced a major crisis, women have always been the worst affected. We are living through a historic event right now, The 2020 Coronavirus Pandemic, let’s see how this has affected women.
*It is important to note that here and further in the article, wherever data on ‘women’ and ‘female’ has been mentioned, it includes only cis (people who identify with the gender they were assigned at birth) women. This is because data on trans women and AFAB (Assigned Female At Birth) non-binary people is practically non-existent, despite them being just as much, if not even more vulnerable to abuse and violence by men.
Read: Women the biggest losers
For those who don’t have the time or energy to read, let me summarise:
- Globally, women make up a majority of healthcare workers. “There’s the idea that if there’s a gap in the health system, the nurses will fill it. Their duty is to be ever-present and visible, offering empathy and care… Add that to a sick child or husband or parent and the very uncertain nature of an epidemic, it can be hard [for the nurse] to hold on,” says Professor Eleanor Holroyd, Auckland University of Technology.
- Even before the pandemic, India was seeing a declining female labour force participation, possibly due to a lack of demand for female labour rather than a shortage of female labour. The pandemic will only reinforce this downward trend.
- “The temporary or permanent closure of many businesses is likely to have a severe adverse impact on a range of professions dominated by women, such as flight attendants, tour operators, sales assistants and frontline hotel staff and cleaners.”
- “Academics, who have studied past pandemics, including Ebola, Zika, SARS, swine flu and bird flu, report their deep and persistent effects on gender equality. According to Julia Smith, a health policy researcher at the Simon Fraser University, Vancouver, Canada, these outbreaks affected everyone’s incomes but “men’s income returned to what they had made pre-outbreak faster than women’s income.” This outcome is compounded by the already-existing wage discrimination in many sectors.”
- “Last but not the least is the issue of domestic abuse, the incidence of which is believed to go up exponentially in any kind of crisis, especially the current one that mandates people to practise social isolation and stay at home for sustained periods. What is worse, in a lockdown situation, women in violent relationships are unable to seek help as the perpetrators of the violence are always around, whereas those who can help the victims are inaccessible.”
Despite claims that the coronavirus doesn’t discriminate, it is clear that women health workers are more likely to be exposed to it, and women in general are disproportionately affected by salary cuts, lay-offs, increased unpaid domestic labour and threat of domestic violence.
2.Clarify your thinking
The most common rebuttal to #MenAreTrash is ‘Not All Men’. Of course, not all men are absolute trash, but there are more than enough to warrant the generalisation. There are always exceptions to a rule, but that doesn’t change the fact that it’s still the rule.
Another famous response is: Why are you using social media to seek justice? Why don’t you go to the police or seek legal recourse?
These questions completely ignore the fact that the law may be ‘neutral’ or ‘blind’, but the ones who enforce it, are not. The police are always late to act in cases of sexual harassment and rape, preferring to reconcile the abuser and victim. This insistence on reconciliation instead of serving justice stems from the deeply problematic notion that a woman’s body is the site of ‘cultural purity’. That her family’s honour depends on the woman’s modesty. The entire process is dehumanising and in most cases, unless certain financial and political power is exerted, it is impossible for the abuser to be charged, and the case is either not registered, dropped or filed under the ‘false accusation’ category. Even if the case is registered and legal proceedings initiated, India has far too few courts. The case can go on for years, requiring the victim to invest serious money and time, along with mental and physical energy to see it through. Most of the time this is not financially, emotionally or physically possible.
“It takes a very brave person to be a witness in our country because you have to keep coming to court, you have to face hostile cross examination, and you are made to feel like this foolish perpetrator rather than the victim of a crime. Eventually, you end up asking yourself ‘Why the hell did I bother?’”, says lawyer Rebecca Mammen John.
Even when it comes to legislation, The Transgender Persons’ (Protection of Rights) Bill of 2019 is an example of gendered structural inquality. A bill that was called the ‘murder of gender justice’ by Dalit trans rights activist Grace Banu, was passed despite vehement opposition by the trans community (the very community this bill sought to ‘protect’). The Transgender Persons’ Bill 2019 not only categorised trans persons as ‘neither wholly female nor male’ but also took away their right to self-determination of gender. In addition, the sentence for abuse against trans persons was made less severe than the sentence for abuse against cis women.
3.Construct a claim
Men are trash.
A few days ago, Gaysi put up a story asking for help to write this piece. Here are some of the replies to why #MenAreTrash is relevant.
In July, an old stand-up video of Agrima Joshua went viral. In it, she jokes about the Shivaji statue that was to be built off the Mumbai coast. A harmless joke created chaos on social media. Trolls attacked Joshua, not only on the content of her stand-up material, she was also sent rape and death threats on the internet.
This is a recurring theme of being a vocal woman on the internet. If a man finds offense (no matter how ungrounded) in what you have to say, you are not only attacked on what you have said, but also slut-shamed and sent threats of rape and death.
It is assumed that a woman’s modesty is what makes her one, and threatening her with rape and death is construed to be the greatest insult to her ‘womanhood’.
Aditya Thackeray is Maharashtra’s Cabinet Minister for Tourism, Protocol, and Environment and Climate Change. He is put forward as the voice of the youth and prides himself on relatively progressive ideals, despite the party he represents (Shiv Sena). It probably helps that he is the son of Maharashtra’s Chief Minister.
While Agrima Joshua was being attacked on social media, the Maharashtra Home Minister gave a statement that said the state was considering possible ‘legal action’ against her, a Shiv Sena MLA registered a complaint against her, and party members of MNS (Maharashtra Navnirman Sena, Aditya’s uncle, Raj Thackeray’s party) thrashed the studio where Joshua had performed the stand-up, Aditya Thackeray was silent.
Maybe because he was busy doing this.
Aaditya Thackeray on Twitter: “If you’ve passed by Dadar, you’d see something that will make you feel proud. @mybmcWardGN is ensuring gender equality with a simple idea- the signals now have women too!… https://t.co/KUREk5jiFb”
So much for ‘gender equality’.
I was once mansplained about what to include in a Moana costume by a boyfriend who hadn’t even watched the movie. Once a month I watch my father (who can just about make tea and coffee) tell my mother how to make complex meals that even she (with her 24 years of cooking experience) has to look up on the internet. I have had to sit through a college Literature class while the professor, sweat dripping from his bald head, frantically paced the podium space, claiming that #FreeTheNipple is trivial and that there were ‘better’ things to fight for. There are frustratingly hilarious instances of mansplaining all over the internet, like these two gems:
5.Consider Key Objections
Here are some of the arguments that we received against #MenAreTrash in the replies.
To reiterate: Yes, not all men, but more than enough for #MenAreTrash to be relevant. There are exceptions to a rule, but it’s still the rule.
Yes, my dad is trash too.
Yes, men are victims of abuse. But if you bring this up only to counter women’s stories of abuse, you do nothing for male abuse victims and everything toward further harassing women. The death of Jayaraj and Bennix (father and son) in police custody, raised questions on police brutality and extra judicial killings in India. There were also eyewitness accounts of sexual assault against father and son by the police.
The same feminist accounts that trend #MenAreTrash, also spoke out for and trended #JusticeForJayarajAndBennix. An instagram video uploaded by RJ Suchi explaining the case in graphic detail went viral, bringing national attention to the deaths of Jayaraj and Bennix. On 9 July, Tamil Nadu CB-CID (branch of state police services) asked RJ Suchi to take the video down.
The press note issued by Tamil Nadu CB-CID reads:
“Ms Suchitra’s descriptive narration of the incident is baseless and is not truly indicative of the real happenings. In this video she falsely exaggerated and sensationalised the chain of events and her allegations seems to be a figment of imagination and is not backed up by any proof.”
It continues to remain unclear why the Tamil Nadu CB-CID asked RJ Suchi to take down the video without backing their claim of sensationalisation with the post-mortem report.
#MenAreTrash is a feminist cause and so is justice for male victims of abuse, the two are not mutually exclusive.
The above-mentioned has the same energy as this ‘photo-quote’,
Yes, the human race isn’t exactly sparking joy, doesn’t mean we throw it away.
Some of us are benefiting from the economic and social wreck that we live in right now, just like men have benefitted from the patriarchy for centuries. Saying ‘all human beings are trash’ is only making excuses, while doing nothing to make things better. The first step is to hold the men in your life (irrespective of father, brother, uncle, grandfather, friend, boyfriend or acquaintance) accountable and responsible for their behaviour toward cis women, trans women and AFAB non-binary people.
6.Crafting your argument
#MenAreTrash encapsulates the centuries of gendered violence men have perpetrated to secure and maintain power over all structures in society. Even now, most men refuse equality of the genders, if it means giving up their own privilege.
Equality cannot be achieved on the terms of the oppressor gender, that is completely missing the point. Equality doesn’t mean everybody gets to act the way men do, that behaviour is the reason we are in this social and economic mess in the first place. Equality means equal opportunity for everyone to work for complete upheaval of the existing system, one that is centred around the cis white male.
‘The crazy ex girlfriend’ is a often-used trope in pop culture, but this gendered term is never used for straight men. Because when men become the ‘crazy ex’, women get killed.
Women get angry and scream and shout, men get angry and kill their girlfriend.
We are living through The 2020 Coronavirus Pandemic, and even now, a majority of healthcare workers are women (overworked and underpaid), bearing the brunt of this pandemic, while Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk get richer.
All of this is more than enough without having to deal with rape and death threats over a hashtag- that tells the truth.
7.Confirming your main point
Men are trash.