Doing it for Themselves: The Mutiny of the Women’s Movement

Photo source: Rob Kall – DC BY 2.0

“There really is no such thing as the ‘voiceless’. There are only the deliberately silenced, or preferably the inaudible.

-Arundhati Roy

Older women in conservative African societies have found the women’s movement liberating, refreshing and affirming. Liberating because it showed us that the difficult experiences we had endured growing up or the unfair working conditions were in fact abusive situations; prolonged leering at people in authority over us, vulgarities directed at us in the street by taxi drivers, policemen and people from whom we expected better, etc.

It was refreshing to see, even belatedly, that it was possible to resist abuse, that there were laws against it, and that the community supported this effort. Nothing was more encouraging for the individual than to discover that he was not alone and that it was not his lot in life to risk humiliation every time he left the house. The learning curve is long but still challenging.

The movement grew and was championed by an ever-growing army of psychologists, journalists, lawyers, doctors, academics and gender specialists. It was therefore an unpleasant experience to discover that after decades of being encouraged to learn to trust their instincts to recognize red flags, to speak, to act and to use legal process, women are now told to stop.

The line is drawn to identify potential abusers and their male victims. A victimized man who has followed the advice women have been receiving for decades; documenting cases of abuse, seeking legal remedies and enduring short-term humiliation for long-term justice, is accused of using the justice system to prolong his alleged abuse. His ex-wife has admitted to instigating a series of physical altercations. He is heard on tape challenging his victim as a man, to publicly admit to being a victim of DV, “Tell the world Johnny, tell them, I, Johnny Depp, a man, am a victim of domestic violence and see if the people believe or side with you.

He went to court to clear her name after she made a public statement that she was actually the victim. Some professionals, the self-proclaimed “voices of the voiceless”, ruled that he had no cause. It is fascinating to read their lengthy arguments lambasting people – many of whom are DV victims and/or survivors – for simply identifying red flags in the woman’s behavior. Ordinary women are ridiculed as “weird” and accused of being crazed fans of the male plaintiff, rather than mature human beings repulsed by what they have seen and heard and campaigning for justice. Their agency and independent judgment are under attack.

There has been an abundance of evidence to support the male victim’s claims, including his ex-wife’s own recordings of his confession and episodes of his abusive behavior. His psychiatrist confirmed that “physical violence” and “psychological aggression” had been perpetrated on him. She did not present corroborated evidence in the same way that she was physically abused. Photographs of his alleged injuries have been falsified. Testimonies from a doctor and from witnesses who saw her at relevant times contradict her claims, but the rules are different in the context of male victims.

Voice Inc. has gone into overdrive trying to silence the women they want to speak up for. In typical abuser fashion, he resorted to intimidation tactics. In the final week of the libel trial, MSM articles suggested that relying on their instincts and experience in interpreting evidence makes the women guilty of killing the Me Too movement.

One can only conclude that the power dynamic between public figures in the women’s movement and ordinary women and men has corrupted some of the leaders. Voice Inc. wants to continue to be the guardian of the pattern of abusive behavior. Any evidence that does not match is deemed irrelevant and in fact subversive to the voice industry. But the setback has been massive. Online debates (or polemics) reveal a mutiny against guards’ instructions to hear or see no harm from female DV perpetrators.

If left to the women and men of Voice Inc., justice would only be available to demographic groups that attract mainstream media coverage and subsidies, which in turn secure professional careers and (more importantly) elevate the public profile of people in advocacy.