Not in jest

#MeToo and the Animal Farm

Zafar Haider Jappa | Published: June 11, 2018 21:38:19 | Updated: June 11, 2018 22:31:15

If not invited so warmly by Napoleon, George Orwell have had no plan to revisit Animal Farm he crafted in 1945. Orwell had not visited it since 1950. But he agrees to reappear for a few days and to see its quaint cosmopolitan culture.

He formally receives multiple invitations from Napoleon who is the master of the farm and architect of the Animalism. George Orwell himself crowned and bestowed him with authoritative authority to act in the best public farm interest.

Upon arrival Orwell looks at the farm board placed at the barn gate and notices 8th principle added too. Anti-harassment bill has been passed and the 8th principle says "#MeToo victims are most welcome but we cannot assure justice". Napoleon briefs Orwell about the origin of the campaign and then necessity of the hashtag that started trending worldwide after a call to action came from actress Alyssa Milano. Orwell listens that posting on Twitter, Alyssa passed along a suggestion from a friend that women who have been sexually harassed or assaulted post "Me Too" to give people a sense of the magnitude of the problem. Orwell is sympathetic for the Hollywood Mogul Harvey Weinstein whose downfall came only because of #MeToo came into ferocious action.

Orwell praises Napoleon over the awe-inspiring discipline in the farm, maintenance of the pavements, feeding points and the newly erected court room where harassment cases are heard. Full bench comprises of Squealer, Clover and Boxer. Aggrieved party can lodge final appeal before Napoleon. Currently eighteen cases are at trial court of three judges. Napoleon is too officious to show the proceedings of some interesting cases to Orwell.

Clover recommends the trial of Ladybird VS Grasshopper. Brief facts of the complaint are explained to Orwell. Ladybird accused Grasshopper's several instances of indecent gestures and sounds, falling under the purview of harassment law. Orwell decides to extend his stay for another three weeks to oversee the conclusion of this case and to celebrate the joyous moments once justice is delivered to Ladybird. Orwell is highly appreciative of the court rulings that litigants can themselves plead their cases without engaging expensive counsels who mostly obstruct speedy trials. He is pleased to project this mechanism as the role model for other farm governments. The Ladybird case is pleaded before the bench and several hours are given to the both. The Grasshopper pleads innocence and produces a medical certificate stating that the gesture was natural and biological one and hence nothing offensive was therein. The report further clarified that Grasshopper was patient of diabetic maculopathy and warned if not treated soon he may eventually lose vision. Anorexic Grasshopper, who was once the subject of Arundhati Roy's field visits "Listening to the Grasshoppers", pays serious attention to his health after being pronounced innocent. The Medical report left no ambiguity for the clear-headed bench. It went to the extent that "Mr Grasshopper stridulates often, which means he awfully rubs his hind leg against his fore wing. Special pegs on the inside of the hind leg act like a percussion instrument of sorts when they come in contact with the thickened edge of the wing. The band-winged Grasshoppers crepitate, or snap their wings loudly as they fly. Thus recurring sound was not an act of harassment. Rather a normal way of relaxing by an athletic Grasshopper. Orwell feels sorry for the daring Ladybird.

One fine morning during breakfast, a nonagenarian sow approaches to Orwell. After greetings sow complains Orwell about the inappropriate behaviour of Napoleon who time and again has been harassing her - and since 1945. Orwell is shocked to listen such an unsmiling allegation against Napoleon whom he had bestowed chancellery of the farm since 1945. Orwell pledges with sow of the first order justice. Orwell advises sow to file her case with the registry. The registry is empty because after the promulgation of this enactment registrar is deserter. Registrar is foreseeing several potential allegations against him under #MeToo Movement.

Orwell's concerns are deepening now. He cannot afford to see any controversies with Napoleon. Napoleon had already defeated Snowball who was the successor of Napoleon. Orwell cannot appreciate the replacement of Napoleon. On a dinner in same night Napoleon discusses sow's allegation against Napoleon and the capacity of the trial bench. Convulsed and nonplussed Napoleon maintains a pretentious composure. He comes up with a new amendment into the law. After we have a regular full-time registrar and then onward we approve that counsels can plead cases of the litigants. Agitated Orwell, enquires from Napoleon to the efficacy of this amendment. Conceited and cocksure Napoleon explains his plan of reducing full bench to double one and deputing Clover a state attorney. Clover will ensure to falsify sow's complaint. Orwell is simply joyous over the extraordinary intelligence of Napoleon. Orwell reiterates his earlier decision of placing chancellery over the head of Napoleon. He advises Napoleon that once judgment is announced it must be reported in the jurisprudence gazette. This case will save many innocent male victims from the false and motivated allegations of sexual harassment.

Orwell is really enjoying his stay at the Animal Farm. He is now time and again visiting city centre to trace his former colleagues, friends and writers of his time. He is dismayed to listen from many quarters that no one from the close buddies is alive. Orwell gets media publicity and people have started to study his books, life and his travels. He is discussed at homes. Earlier during US presidential campaign of 2016 his 1984 was one of the best selling books in USA and in many other countries. Orwell sometimes meets university students, budding creative writers and teachers in buses, trains, restaurants and cafes. Orwell decides to spend final days at farm and in the meanwhile Napoleon has appointed Mollie as the new registrar. Mollie has had an impeccable character and she has no fear of deserting office under any pressure and blackmailing. Mollie though always preferred status quo at farm affairs, her character remained far above any controversy.

Again one fine morning Mollie brings up a vast tray full of the letters yet unopened but addressed to her and Orwell jointly. She puts the pod before Orwell. Orwell and Napoleon are doing their lunch whereas Clover, who normally abstains lunch, is sipping coffee while reading newspaper in her lap. Mollie quite happily tells Napoleon and Orwell that these letters must be carrying best wishes for Orwell from the admirers all over the world. Orwell advises to open each and read out the messages of admirers for him while he is busy in lunch but will listen to Mollie.

The first letter comes from a university student. He wants to know from Orwell as how to write dystopian novels after #MeToo campaign and political satire after Trump. Napoleon comments that he should wait a few years to soften his ambitions. Let #MeToo to subside and Trump to be impeached. Orwell asks for the next letter. Next letter comes from a retired editor of The Sun who narrates her tales of harassment from Orwell and she pleads Napoleon to fix the case before Orwell returns. Orwell has finished the lunch hurriedly. Next letter is from his former intern who typed manuscript of 1984. She stated that #MeToo has emboldened her to encourage other victims to speak against harassers and Orwell is one of them. Fourth letter comes from a tutor of his children. She urges Napoleon to fix Orwell under strict farm law as he had tried to molest her many times when she was busy teaching his children at his home. Orwell just sighed and said that he was not expecting this at least from her when he had doubled her tuition fees after one month of the classes. Next letter comes from a university's dean of law faculty, a former part-time university café waitress. She is highly admirer of Orwell's 1984 and Animal Farm. She has written that her third generation considers books of Orwell larger than life. But in the last part of letter she is attentive to Napoleon and urged him to charge-sheet Orwell under sexual harassment she faced when she was a waitress. Orwell enquires now how many letters are left? Mollie counts them seventeen more. Orwell advises her to fling all letters and see if the word #MeToo exists there or not. Mollie finds that in ten letters word #MeToo is visible. And in remaining seven letters? There I can see just sexual harassment in the end.

Orwell regrets his decision of revisiting his Animal Farm. He laments the addition of 8th principle on the notice board. Orwell instructs Napoleon to remove 8th principle, dissolve double bench and wind up complaint registry with effect today and right now. They all agree that harassment cases can be heard at regular courts under existing laws and the expediency under Farm Act is disbanded for good. In the evening George Orwell leaves the Animal Farm. He is seen off by the former registrar at the gate. Both congratulate each other over the annulment of the lopsided law. While ascending on the cart, Orwell feels so envious for Khushwant Singh and his Company of Women. Ms Tatty Bill who typed the manuscript of Train to Pakistan left her job in the middle but did not evoke #MeToo. Likewise, Edwina did not raise any eyebrow against the browbeaten Nehru.

Zafar Haider Jappa is an alumnus of Potsdam Centre for Public Management Germany and of Geneva Centre for Security Policy Switzerland.

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