Reactions to My Badass Aunty Post Is Why We Need Badass Aunties

From name-calling to curses, let’s examine the Facebook abuse I received after my post went viral on social media.

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(Photo: iStockphoto/Altered by <b>The Quint</b>)

I am Dyuti, the girl who overheard the badass aunty speak to two men ranting about women having two seats reserved in the general compartment, and wrote a Facebook post about it.

If you are in India and use Facebook, there is a 99 percent chance that you know which post I am talking about. But what you don’t know – and need to – is what exactly happened after the post went viral.

I will start from the beginning, ie, where this incident happened, how I overheard the conversation, how I wrote the post, and what followed after that.

So I was on my way to my office in Kalkaji on 18 April when the incident happened. This lady, about 55 to 60 years old, was sitting on one of the two seats that are reserved for women. Beside her (on the seat reserved for women) sat the said man, alongside his friend.

When I entered, the men did not show any intention to shift or get up and then I asked the one sitting next to the lady to give me the seat. He did not seem very happy. And after I insisted, he stood up and right in front of me started the collective grumble with his friend. This was when aunty pitched in and shut them up.

I got down from the train as I reached the station along with guys, who got down immediately after to save themselves from the burn that Aunty caused.

When I reached office, I posted this incident as a Facebook status update and continued with my work.

Everything was normal until a friend of mine called me up and informed me that the post has gone viral. When I reached home, I saw that most of reactions were positive. People found the post relatable.

There were inevitably some negative reactions too, but I decided to let them go. However, on one share, a friend of mine commented something tagging me where another person from some website had asked me to check my inbox as she needed my permission to feature the story on the website. I checked mine, there were no messages. And then I opened the filtered messages.

And BANG!  People, mostly men, accused me of being a feminazi, and told me that I am the reason behind the male-female drift, of having a ‘rubbish, girly’ life, of studying “ch***ya”(direct quote) subjects like Women’s Studies, etc.

Screenshots of the messages sent to me. (Photo Courtesy: Dyuti Sudipta)
Screenshots of the messages sent to me. (Photo Courtesy: Dyuti Sudipta)

Hell broke loose in my filtered message inbox.

I checked the comments in the posts that were being shared by several social media portals. They had more accusations and blames than positive remarks. They called me a publicity seeker, an attention seeker.

They even commented on my family, calling my mother bossy and my father henpecked, and blamed my upbringing for my attitude towards men. Some commented how I should not marry and make do with a dildo (I wonder what they would have said if they knew I was queer), some said I deserve to get raped, or “pierced by a d**k” as a guy suggested on Friday morning.

Some more messages (Photo Courtesy: Dyuti Sudipta)
Some more messages (Photo Courtesy: Dyuti Sudipta)

This is obviously not the first time. In November 2014 when the ‘Kiss of Love’ chain of protest against the moral policing of RSS reached Delhi, I kissed a female friend of mine and the photo went viral everywhere.

My ‘Kiss of Love’ campaign photo that went viral. (Photo: Dyuti Sudipta)
My ‘Kiss of Love’ campaign photo that went viral. (Photo: Dyuti Sudipta)

The same kind of cyber bullying followed right after this, there were countless rape and acid attack threats cruising in, because a lot of people knew me on North Campus for being active regarding women’s issues on campus and these threats came in from people who knew my whereabouts.

In this case, I do not feel as unsafe as before, but the similarity in the modes of attack bear mentioning. They appear whenever independent women stand up, speak up and raise their voice against the age old patriarchal structures that the society has taught us to see as normal; when they question the privileges that men enjoy and try to do their bit in shaking the roots of these entrenched systems of discrimination and oppression – this is the way the orthodox privileged male reacts; with threats to mutilate our sexual organs, to rape us, to  throw acid on us, to humiliate us. And that’s where they go wrong in assessing the strength of our resolve.

Despite their wholehearted efforts to silence us, we will shout on the top of our lungs. Despite their endless efforts to break us, we will rise. And despite their commitment to maintain the status quo of oppression, we will uproot and overthrow it.

At the end, I want to dedicate this post to all the women who have faced backlash while standing up for themselves and others.

For the the three waves that have gone and the endless waves that are yet to come to wash away the patriarchy, I have truckloads of love and solidarity – love and solidarity that we will use to fight the hate.

(Dyuti Sudipta is a student, currently pursing her MA in Women’s Studies from TISS, Mumbai)

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