India is No Country for Women on the Internet
I have long forgone the habit of expressing my views on the internet. It is a dangerous place for having a mind, a humanity, a voice howsoever minuscule on platforms where your worth is decided by flippant algorithms, bots, and ‘like for like’ and ‘follow for follow’ trends. I have to admit the tenacity of internet creators though. Comedians, artists, bloggers, photographers who painstakingly create content day after day, especially now, with limited resources, from the confines of their own homes. Most content creators I follow are funny, brazen, creative, democratic, and original in their voice, their opinion, their ability to influence and in turn, be inspired to create more.
But the internet is a vicious place. A free-for-all forum, where the insidious violence that can often physically follow women home, and sometimes, into their homes, has now begun venomously transpiring online. All thanks to some men who are so wound up and have their panties in such a deliciously tight bunch that they literally cannot take a joke. That is it. Recently, a 26-year-old threatened to fuck a female comedian from behind, and apparently the size of his dick is so big that it was going manoeuvre her insides like a snake and emerge from her mouth. Now, say whatever you may, he might lack a conscience but not a vibrant imagination which could be the result of watching hours of mainstream porn (where Kim K-lookalikes give surly, old men blowjobs and poorly pretend to enjoy cum dissolving in their mouth like candy floss).
And pray, what did this woman do to deserve such an unceremonious honour? She joked about Shivaji Maharaj. I mean, HOW DARE SHE? In a country where politicians are openly mobilising mobs to commit arson and genocide, what offended this little waif was that a woman had a punchline about a man who has been dead for over 300 years? Later he claimed that he was merely defending the honour of his brothers and sisters who brought the video to his attention.
I haven’t seen the entirety of the video. I found it too triggering. There was a sense of disbelief, anger and hopelessness that was difficult to contain. And I didn’t bother with the other videos that featured expert articulation by similar pieces of solid deuces. I am always amazed at the audacity of such men, who perhaps have the implicit knowledge that the system is on their side. I dread to imagine what irrevocable damage they are capable of causing to women in their lives, if they can spew such filth at strangers.
The biggest misconception middle-class Indian women can mistakenly harbour in their nimble hearts is that by the virtue of an education, of work opportunities (where they are still being paid less than men by the way), of parents who don’t force them to marry a stranger, is that they have escaped the tight noose of the life sentence that is patriarchy.
A flawed system that is hell-bent on proving anything feminine as less-than, feeble, weak, and something worth violating. Men can truly assert their powers when they are the head of the family, when they earn more than their partners or at a younger, more impressionable age, when the girl they are infatuated by acknowledges their feelings meekly, with gratitude instead of just saying no. Whether you like it or not, this is the norm. Women who come out to share their stories of sexual assault by powerful men, even from years ago, put everything at stake to stand up against systemic abuse. In spite of their bravado, they will most likely be dismissed, slut-shamed, accosted, decried as a trouble-maker all their lives. And most of this happens online.
Women, members of minority communities etc. can be unencumbered and truly live their most authentic lives on the internet, if they are possibly allowed by the shoddy gatekeepers of this society, who have anointed themselves as such. Their most prominent insult is made out to a woman’s private parts, whose only fault is that these pests came to exist because of it.
And because our patriarchal society won’t change overnight, I hope it’s not too much to ask of governments and the local police to take cognizance of such horrific incidents, and put perpetrators behind bars. To set an example. Shubham Mishra was undoubtedly a good place to start. Because someone explicitly articulating how he intends to violate a woman, is not too far from doing the act itself. Remember Bois Locker Room?
Is it too foolish of me to expect the internet to be a place for dissent and not rape and death threats, where you can agree to disagree and not deem your opinion to be the only opinion because we can at least pretend that we are living in a democracy, right?
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