It comes as no surprise that the sexual predators forced out of hiding by the #MeToo movement have all responded in a predictably defensive manner, with legal notices for defamation. But what surprises us is the number of women who are still standing in support of their husbands, fathers and brothers in the face of multiple serious accusations.
You’d think that a woman would best understand the plight of another, but that doesn’t seem to be the case when it comes to matters that hit close to home. We try to understand whether women truly believe that their better halves are incapable of sexual misconduct, or if they choose to turn a blind eye.
When filmmaker Vikas Bahl was accused of sexual misconduct by a former female employee of Phantom Films, who said she was sexually assaulted by Bahl in 2015 after a wrap party in Goa, actress Kangana Ranaut too admitted the filmmaker misbehaved with her as well on the sets of Queen.
But one of the first and only person to come to Vikas’ defence was ex-wife Richa Dubey, who publicly slammed Ranaut for misusing the #MeToo movement to malign the director.
While some put it down to an act of loyalty, many others wonder why she would come out in support of a man that she is no longer even married to. As Kangana herself puts it, “Why do they leave their holier-than-thou husbands in the first place?”
Like Richa, Alok Nath’s wife Ashu also slammed writer Vinta Nanda when she shared a heart-breaking account of sexual assault and rape at the hands of the actor.
There are many more such examples, where the family members support the accused and hit out at the victim.
Why? Relationship expert Nisha Jamvwal says it’s sheer disbelief. “The relationship that a husband and wife share is very intense. So it’s difficult for a wife to accept that her husband can do something like this. And no matter what happens, many women choose to keep the marriage intact. Often, women who are in abusive marriages justify their husbands’ actions. That could be why they are just not willing to accept that their husbands are in the wrong,” she says.
In another incident, popular comedienne Mallika Dua came out in support of her father, veteran journalist Vinod Dua, when he was accused of sexual misconduct, sharing a picture of the two of them together with the caption, “Heroes aren’t made or broken overnight.” This struck many as odd given that Mallika had earlier slammed Twinkle Khanna for not taking a stand when her husband Akshay was accused of passing a sexist remark.
According to relationship expert Richa Khetawat, though women may have high standards for the public at large, the game changes when family is involved.
“You don’t want to accept that a family member, whom you are so close to, can do something so horrific. That’s why you see Farah Khan not going all out and slamming her brother Sajid Khan. The good thing is that she’s not defending him at least. Then you have the wives of Nana Patekar, Kailash Kher, and Bhushan Kumar, who are not saying anything at all,” she says, adding, “When it comes to ex-wives, they could also be looking for publicity. They know that the movement is gaining momentum, and they want to be a part of it and use it to their benefit.”