2020 has been a rollercoaster ride for all, especially for those with mental health issues. The year has been burdensome and challenging to work, get out of bed, and even to barely survive for some. After the death of actor Sushant Singh Rajput, there was a surge over social media about being kind to people. All around, there were talks of mental health, depression, and even something as trivial as being courteous to all.

Social media is a funny place. It is an access to the world right there, in the pocket of your jeans. But is this access utilised? One minute you are sharing memes, making jokes, and the next, you see immense hatred being spread. I have lost numerous friends over the years, and I hold this freedom to damage someone beyond repair responsible.

“Tu R**** hai.”
“You should be raped.”
“Raping you will teach you a lesson.”

All these years that I have had a social media account, I have consistently watched women go through these comments almost daily by faceless, nameless, and spineless accounts. I believe it used to hurt more when it was the first time I heard it, and the shock that comes along with such threats has yet not receded.

Recently, Agrima Joshua, a comedian, was threatened to be raped over a video that went online a year ago and came to attention lately. The video, which is a clip of a comedy show, was supposed to be funny. Even after issuing an apology, a YouTuber amongst many took offence to the same and made a counter video describing how he would rape her, and that would be funny.

A while back, Indian Journalist and writer Rana Ayyub received rape and death threats like Gauri Lankesh, over a post she speaking for Kashmir on Instagram. Dissent is and should be appreciated in a democracy, but shouldn’t there be a better way to express criticism, disagreement, and difference of opinion?

The Spiral of Silence theory by Elisabeth Noelle-Neumann, states how people’s wish to express their views is highly dictated by popular and unpopular opinions as those holding the minority view often have a fear of being isolated (or in this case threatened to be raped) by the society. When taught about the same, I often thought, why would someone not express their beliefs or wish to stay in a community that doesn’t accept or at least acknowledges that individuals have the right to possess different views. I figure I now understand why even though the reason seems unjustifiable, have we asked those receiving these threats?

These are two recent examples out of a million that every woman who dares to raise a voice or speaks outside the “Good” decided by our flawed society goes through. Men and women both are subjected to hatred by both men and women. Hate is a disturbing emotion and can be fatal to others if not dealt with appropriately. My question is, Why is hostility towards women only constrained to rape threats?

The internet welcomes all; people judge, get manipulated, and act a little too quick here. The most significant on this platform are those who are in a position to influence others. With power comes great responsibility, so people who possess the ability to be an inspiration to others, it becomes their duty to make sure they are not the carriers of growing hatred in many hearts.

What many fail to understand is, rape threats are just as harmful as rape itself, and the trauma they leave on a person’s well-being is eternal. Posting rape threats against women who hold different opinions than most in society is a way of reiterating patriarchy. It is another form of saying, “Men have power over women and can do as they please.”

Patriarchy is so deeply rooted in our society that resorting to rape threats seems more plausible than a rational conversation. The toxic idea of patriarchy that some men hold is appalling. They believe in calling out a wrong by implementing another wrong, but it should be viable as long as they do it, right?

These rape threats today are cheaper than a chocolate bar; you can find them for free online. Someone showing a little skin because they like it? Threat. Is someone comfortable within their body? Threat. Is someone against something you like? Threat. Someone takes a stand against something wrong? Threat.

If your patriarchy stumbles and your ego crashes at something as petty as men applying make-up or women making jokes, is it even worth fighting for? The toxic patriarchy existing today needs to understand that rationality is winning, and those spreading poison are ending up in jail.

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