The thousands of comments pouring in as responses to reports on the Tarun Tejpal rape accusation case as well as other crimes against women point to an intensifying tide of misogyny in society.

In the many obstacles that the evolution of India as a feminist state will face—if it ever becomes one in the long run—this could be the biggest one. A large number of male readers with time and inclination to post comments on the Internet believe that a majority of rape victims are “crazy" women out to misuse the laws framed to protect them.

While some freely abuse female victims of heinous and degrading crimes, calling them perpetrators of “injustice" against men and thus endangering the “future" of Indian society, others still continue to believe that every woman who has been molested has been deservedly punished for inviting a certain attention to herself.

Some comments on Internet sites go as far as to suggest that organizations stop hiring women employees. According to them, that’s the only way to limit organizational hassles and protect “honourable" men from being labelled criminals.

All may be old theories. What’s new though is the numbers steadily crossing over to the side of misogyny. On the one hand is the rise of the male feminist who was a clear oddity in India even 10 years ago, but who made a noticeable entry during the Delhi gang-rape case. On the other is the rise of the misogynists who aren’t just questioning women’s character as societies have done for centuries but are also misreading court rulings and amended laws as political conspiracies that disregard men’s rights. That’s scary. The two genders no longer wish the best for each other. They invest more in doubt than in trust.

For this piece, I attempted to list all articles on the Web about the Tehelka case since last week and review the comments under them. “Whacko men, why are you wasting your time?" said one in a group of female friends I discussed this with. “They are creeps, come on, you can’t go by what the losers say," said another. “These are the guys who eventually turn rapists," added the first one.

I don’t think it’s so simplistic. In fact, it is hazardous to group all men as predators and potential rapists. Besides, should we ignore what may be a revealing part of public opinion by assuming that such views are only being posted by so-called “creeps"? Surely, some among such comment writers are indeed of this variety and use the Internet to belt out profanities and perversions.

At the same time, let’s not forget that the most credible media sites now edit and filter reader observations, largely allowing acceptably worded views to seep in. But even if we presume that people who write under anonymous names are those whose views don’t matter on sociological turning points, the fact is that they, too, are governed by the same state, are dependent on the same police force, go through similarly disillusioning law and order experiences and whose voices will turn into votes when the next set of political leaders is elected to power.

Indians are riddled with an overall suspicion of everything: the police, judiciary, law, media, politicians and even social relationships. But misogyny is a toxic disease and needs urgent attention. More rape and molestation cases that reveal the big and small details of the trauma that victims have to live through have woken up even the skeptics to the ground realities. Yet, what is mounting is wariness between the two genders, even in urban and liberal groups. Why do so many Indian men hate women? Unless addressed, this anger could actually lead to more crimes against women, as my friend tried to point out.

Opinions stand deeply divided on every sexual misdemeanour case, regardless of police complaints, arrests or even court judgments—from the Tejpal case to allegations against Asaram Bapu; from politician Gopal Kanda’s role in the alleged sexual exploitation and abetment of suicide of flight attendant Geetika Sharma to even the Delhi gang-rape where many people (including women) questioned the victim’s sanity over “walking about at night with a male friend".

That makes it an opinionated mess out there instead of contemporary awareness and search for the real causes behind what’s going on.

It is high time we talk pointedly and candidly inside organizations; with our men friends and through media channels about why Indian men and women don’t trust anyone, anything, anymore. If an injured society waits too long before worrying about healing, the wounds could become fatal.

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