Another day and another attack on a woman, every day there is an attack on a woman, every day we see the news and there’s someone from a village who got raped, a Dalit girl allegedly raped and murdered by an ex-army officer. Every day we women face another attack.
For years, fighting for our rights to get educated, get a job, to drive, to vote to be respected and yet this fight is ongoing ; though now the movement is getting vilified. This collective dream of a utopian society where everyone regardless of their genders can live a respectable and happy life, without someone’s foot on their neck.
But what we forget is that this has been happening daily. Reach out to a Muslim woman voicing out her opinion, reach out to the queer community, or just reach out to a woman being vocal. Every woman will tell you their own experiences, they will tell you about how a friend was being weird with them, how a friend kissed them without consent, they will tell you how they don’t like crowded train stations because they feel the hands of men on their bodies, they will tell you about an uncle in the bathroom, or they will tell you about their brother in law or father in law.
But we as a society will tell them “Arre ignore karo, block karo na, aise toh chalta rehta hai, pros and cons of social media” “ Ghar ghar mein aise kuch raaz hotai hai – chup rehna, “Ghar ke bare mein socho. Tum aurat ho, woh mard hain!” “Izzat mithi mein milaogi! Yes sab bhool jao!”
And on social media when especially a woman raises her opinions, then we get floods of messages, rape threats, death threats, and when we raise our opinions against those threats, as a society we tell them “pros and cons of social media bro, just ignore it nothing will happen!” “Why have we normalised this? When did this happen is what we need to ask ourselves! When will we stop talking over the victims and their experiences? We must realise that statements like “ Uske barre mean kuch bola toh threat toh milege nah bro”; are toxic and it belittle’s a women’s experience.
When will we realise that giving someone threats is not your freedom of speech. It is definitely not in the pros and cons list of social media and shouldn’t be seen as a minor matter. Freedom of expression does give you the right to voice your opinion, but if that opinion is an attack, if that opinion is a threat to you then nobody has the right to talk over you and nobody has the right to put their leg on your neck, and to everybody who feels the urge to coat your manipulations and threats under freedom of expression, reconsider instead to be a decent person and choose not to give it. Freedom of expression does not equal being racist, homophobic, sexist, misogynistic or a casteist bigoted person.
This outrage against Shubham Mishra is of course necessary and we must stand up against him, but the crux of the matter is that’s how low the bar has been, and that’s how much we have normalised it. For a rape news to get national attention it has to be like a Nirbhaya case otherwise it is taken as news and ignored as soon as breakfast or dinner is over.
Even in this case unless and until pointed out by the comedians and celebrities because of them, this came into grabbing the headlines, other wise these threats would’ve just been another number.
What I am trying to say is that are we really surprised by what’s happening around us? Have you really been paying attention to what is happening? When the journalist Rana Ayyub faced rape and death threats, it made the headlines for a few days on the internet and then it was forgotten?
This is what our fight is against this is what feminism is against, to everyone who thinks of themselves as anti feminists, I ask you to reconsider your stance, and think, A man can give his political opinions and no one gets uncomfortable, he doesn’t face rape threats, because he is a man.
I implore all of you to introspect and understand what makes a Shubham Mishra, there are millions of Shubham Mishras out there, they are made with the knowledge and with a sense of violent entitlement stemming from the knowledge of how tired and exhausted women don’t make an official complaint. From the knowledge that thousands of men, from nameless faceless accounts do the same thing to multiple women on twitter, Facebook, Insta, dating apps. What happens to them? Nothing.
They are made from the knowledge that so many men and women will congratulate and praise them for suggesting how to show her woman her place. Men like Mishra are made when they see stars like Swara Bhaskar getting threats, they are made because they see that a journalist like Rana Ayyub gets threats with her face morphed into a porn video. Men like Mishra are made because he has seen Kusha Kapila a popular content creator get insulted by a man who was so unintelligent that his only insult was she is “fat and ugly” he also saw that society laughs away all these incidents like it happened to a door knob and not a human with feelings, they know that here cows are treated better than women. Men like Mishra are made because they know that some of us women only draw a line at rape.
And some others will instead of censuring them, will get busy in saying “Not All Men” are like Shubham Mishra because now that is the issue here, a woman is getting a rape threat, but the real victims are the men who did not issue the rape threat. Does Shubham Mishra and men like Shubham Mishra know that a rape threat is punishable by law, yes he does know it.
But what he also knows is that he will probably get away with it. While Mishra has been arrested, there are many such people living at large without being questions. For most the fault is the woman who made a joke, the fault is a woman forgot “her place in society”. After the dust has settled what will remain? A woman at the centre of it all humiliated and lost and scared, trying to live with the dehumanising threats thrown at her, so easily and so casually. And that is why now more than ever we need Feminism, we need humanity, to start fighting again. To all those Equalists out there who complain as to why Feminists whine so much, all the time? Even when you mistakenly think we want to hurt and vilify the men you love, a gentle reminder will do. We too have men we love in our lives. But we also don’t want monsters to be free.
Feminists fight because we don’t want you or us to wake up one day to our phones pinging and ringing hysterically in the morning because you have a Shubham Mishra in your lives.
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