Women Don’t Have To Say Anything To Become a Target: Supriya Joshi

Women will continue to exist unabashedly on social media, despite the misogyny, writes Supriya Joshi.

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Women on social media and otherwise are attacked for just being themselves. 
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As I write this, thousands of men online are leaving various kinds of threats and derogatory comments on Quint Neon reporter Deeksha Sharma’s personal Facebook page. Her crime, if you can even call it that, is that she called out the misogynistic lyrics of the current meme sensation Omprakash Mishra’s hit, Aunty ki Ghanti. But, at the very heart of it, the actual crime that was committed here was that a woman expressed an opinion online.

At this point, saying that it isn’t easy being a woman is like preaching to the choir. We all know this, we’ve studied this in school, experienced it in real life on the streets and at our workplaces, and now, more than ever, we see how systematically women’s voices are shut down online.

Let’s begin with Deeksha Sharma’s case. Before meme pages discovered it, Aunty ki Ghanti was just another song that was floating amidst the hundred and thousands of others on YouTube. It was an effort from a self-proclaimed rap God put out there, hoping for someone to discover it. And boy, was he discovered.

You see, when a normal nobody becomes a viral sensation, the content they dish out begins to transcend meaning.

We elevate them to a celebrity status; it’s almost like how we worship our real celebrities. And with celebrity worship comes an insane fandom, who won’t stand for their idols spoken out against. And God forbid if you’re a woman who spoke out against them. Then you’re done for.

Omprakash
Omprakash
(Photo: The Quint/Rahul Gupta)

The most a man has to deal with if he says something similar, is a barrage of insults and possible death threats. For a woman, in addition to insults and death threats, she has to deal with rape threats too besides taking on potential stalkers, unwarranted calls and messages, morphed photographs, memes and a steady stream of the most vicious and crass comments ever.

But the irony is, sometimes you don’t even have to say anything at all to become a target for hate. I have been at the receiving end of several memes and nasty words, not because I ever said anything against anyone, but merely because I am a plus-size woman. And somewhere, men believe it is their duty to remind me of this fact, using some of the most hurtful means ever.

As the online spaces become more and more hostile for women, what can really be in the foreseeable future of what we can do online? Historically, men have always tried to silence the voice of a woman using any means necessary, so to expect anything different in the 21st Century would be quite optimistic. Any woman who challenges the status quo has got to be reminded of “her place”, which now manifests as rape threats, thrown around by men without even realising the gravity of their words.

So does this mean we stop existing online? On the contrary, we need to use the medium even more and almost as vociferously as the men, who hate women who speak, do.

The online trolling of women like Deeksha Sharma, Dhanya Rajendran (who was viciously trolled by actor Vijay’s fans), Rega Jha (mercilessly trolled by Indian cricket fans) or Gurmehar Kaur (oh where do I even begin with this one) have only brought to light the nature of the online community, steeped in misogyny. The aim is to deter women from expressing themselves, but the outcome should always be the contrary.

(Supriya Joshi is a Mumbai-based Creative Writer at All India Bakchod. She also moonlights as a stand up comic and dabbles in rocket science (only when no one's looking). According to the Myers–Briggs personality test, she is an ISFJ. In her free time, she likes long walks on the beach, binge watching Bojack Horseman and wallowing in an existential crisis of her own making.)

(#TalkingStalking: Have you ever been stalked? Share your experience withThe Quint and inspire others to shatter the silence surrounding stalking. Send your stories to editor@thequint.com or WhatsApp @ +919999008335.)

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