Article 19 of the Constitution of India guarantees us the right to the freedom of speech and expression which means that it protects and allows us to say whatever we feel like, criticize the government if we want, disagree with people and speak our minds. This right, however, also comes with an asterisk.
When we’re on the internet, using Twitter for example, we retweet what we like, express our disagreement to whatever we don’t like and the law protects us while we do that. However, how far do you think this freedom goes? How much can we say, argue, fight for our point of view on the internet? If you’ve used social media even for a few minutes, tweeted your opinion or posted your view on something, you’ve probably encountered trolls. If you’re a woman, then you have definitely dealt with sexists, racists, mansplainers, fat-shamers, victim-blamers desperately trying to prove that you know absolutely nothing, that you’re wrong and definitely stupid. I, myself, have been told multiple times to quit Twitter and go back to the kitchen.
If you’re a woman, then you have definitely dealt with sexists, racists, mansplainers, fat-shamers, victim-blamers desperately trying to prove that you know absolutely nothing, that you’re wrong and definitely stupid.
Read other stories in #TryTrollHer here
Harassment on the internet is not only limited to sexist comments.
Honestly, this is actually pretty sad and points towards the sorry state of our society, but many of us have gotten used to such comments. Trolls, or in other words people with no ambition in life than to try and gain two minutes worth of attention on the internet, generally hold controversial opinions, target literally anyone with followers, and type long tweets or posts that make little sense, desperately trying to gain approval of strangers on the internet.
Threatening women on the internet has become very common.
Women are body shamed, threatened rape, murders, public shaming. All for tweeting a thought or posting an opinion. Twitter has come under fire multiple times in the past and continues to, for not having a stronger face to deal with the large number of cases of aggressive trolling on their micro-blogging website.
Sagarika Ghose, a journalist in Delhi feels the presence of a hostility towards women, especially those women who are seen to have opinions and are seen as ‘liberal’ or ‘secular’.”
As ironic as it may be, Secretary of the All India Progressive Women’s Association, Kavita Krishnan, was threatened with rape during an online public chat about the rising cases of rape and violence against women in India on one of India’s most well-known news portals.
Social Media attracts more harassment because you can get away with it without revealing your identity. The cover of anonymity makes it easy to attack whoever you want with no fear of consequences. Many a times, a number of these Twitter handles are anonymous, which make it even more difficult for the police to track the harassers down.
Quoting British journalist Laurie Penny, “An opinion, it seems, is the short skirt of the Internet. Having one and flaunting it is somehow asking an amorphous mass of almost-entirely male keyboard-bashers to tell you how they’d like to rape, kill and urinate on you.”
Using SheThePeople.tv’s #TryTrollHer campaign, I’d like to tell all of you women out there to not tolerate trolling. I know it can get frustrating because of the regular dose of harassment we face on a daily basis, but remember that the law is on your side. The man trying to humiliate you on the internet is probably just another loser with no future in sight and by ranting at complete strangers on the internet is how he deals with his frustration. Give him a taste of his own medicine. Make sure he does not make a victim out of the next girl by making him pay for his actions against you. After all, isn’t standing up for our fellow women rule#1 of feminism?
Nandini Arora is part of Safecity’s Writer’s Movement, who works as a Brand Manager in a Software Development company in New Delhi. Although married to numbers, her first love has always been books and writing. She regularly writes about issues such as women’s safety, Feminism, LGBTQ etc.