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A YKA Contributor Dissects The 7 Types Of People Who Comment On Her Articles

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By Archeeta Pujari:

Having written for online platforms like YKA for some time now, I can almost always be sure to come home to find my Facebook and twitter inbox’s flooded with messages, comments and opinions from strangers. I thought it would be interesting to share the main types of feedback that writers on this site get from readers. Most of the feedback tends to fall neatly within a few narrow categories. Do you recognise yourself in any of the groups below?

Image credit: Mashable
Image credit: Mashable

1) “Why are you portraying India negatively – what will foreigners think”:
This form of criticism almost always comes from NRIs – second and third generation Indians facing identity crises in their own countries, who have been taught by their elders to shun the evil vices of the West and to look to India as a utopia of sound values, acceptable behaviour and monumental culture. Despite never setting foot here, they come up with elaborate arguments on how chronic patriarchy, debilitating misogyny, extreme poverty, corruption and crime are all myths made up by detractors to give the great motherland a bad name. The truth is, these critical articles are not meant for foreigners they are for Indians. When you have a disease, do you wonder what the neighbours will think, or do you seek treatment yourself? Well our society has flaws, which need treatment. Only when we acknowledge our shortcomings can we improve.

2) Complete inability to understand irony/ sarcasm/ hyperbole/ any kind of creative expression:
Guess what, sometimes writers use creative techniques to emphasize a point. It adds to the appeal and overall message of the piece, and the article would probably be really boring if it was just written in straightforward prose, like a school essay. And no, not every single thing that I write about has necessarily happened to me in my lifetime. I don’t get around that much. Sometimes writers write from the perspective of others, compile many different points of view, or simply resort to fiction to convey a message.

3) You’re a whore and a slut and you do loads of unprotected sex and you will die of AIDS:
Hmm, okay, clearly you think my personal life is far more interesting than it actually is, but what does it have to do with my writing? This is by far the most common “feedback” that I receive, and sadly, it comes from both men and women. It can be attributed to that small, toxic section of society who believe that a woman has no right to express an opinion. They do not take the time to construct a reasoned argument, but instead throw the word “slut” and “whore” around, assuming it’s the most demeaning insult that can be delivered which would silence me. Well, it’s not. It’s just confusing, and sad.

4) Responses that defy all logic and reason:
Hi – I read your article but I have a doubt. What if women get deeply engrossed in their freedom if they are staying unmarried after a particular age and how will they ever come out of it?”
Real question. Promise. Well Sir, although your concern for women and their susceptibility to the evils of ‘deeply engrossed freedom’ is very touching, I think you should be focussing more on changing your prehistoric mind-set. That would be my instinctive response, but I know that belittling and demeaning this man’s belief system is only going to make matters worse. These kinds of comments always serve as painful reminders that there is a vast majority of people out there who probably still think in a similar manner, and we have a massive uphill struggle ahead of us if we want to change for the better, as a society.

5) The extreme negative reaction:
Patriarchy should be banned. All men are lecherous rapists and misogynists. All feminists are lesbians and hate men, and want to oppress and torture and kill us. How dare you mention that some men still expect virgin brides? Are you condoning old-fashioned ideas? Everyone must succumb to my view of the world! Sounds familiar?

6) Actually, I’m a doctor and… :
Actually, I’m a doctor and unmarried women can’t use internal methods of menstrual sanitation like tampons. I’m a doctor and hymen breaking is actually the same as losing virginity and will cause young girls to lose their honour, please stop suggesting otherwise. I’m a doctor and homosexuality is a well-known mental disorder and should be cured etc. etc. etc. This particular feedback frankly horrifies me. I have always been against the idea of private medical colleges, which, in exchange for a fat wad of cash, promise to make medical practitioners out of those who do not have the grades, the intellect, the sheer grit to make it into the government medical colleges. The consequence of this is a generation of “doctors” who spout incorrect, even harmful wisdom that two minutes of googling will falsify.

7) The overwhelmingly positive:
The truth is that for every rude, negative, unconstructive feedback, there are 10 supportive, encouraging, productive ones. These are from people who have not only taken the time to read and share my work, but also to construct a reasoned counter-argument, request further clarification, or simply express agreement or disagreement. A single encouraging comment makes all of the abuse and bad grammar worth it, restores my faith in humanity, and urges me to pick up that pen and keep writing.

The bottom line is, I am grateful to all my readers, especially those who take the time to fill my Facebook inbox with comments, from the good, to the bad, to the hideously ugly. There would be no point in writing if not to encourage thought, creativity, debate and expression.

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  1. ItsJustMe

    I have been following YKA for sometime now and I would like to a readers perspective on the kind writers and articles I come across this website which hate to love and love to hate.
    1) One sided interpretation of facts
    If it is a college, it is the authorities fault, never the students, if it is a woman vs a man, it is never her fault
    2) Opinion pieces by amateurs
    While it is admirable to have young and aspiring writers and journalists expressing themselves through this website, it is becoming more and more tiring to see that articles often become the writer’s opinion and a way to vent out their emotions about the issue at hand.
    3) Overwhelming Negativity
    It is true that negative articles attract more attention, but we have the mainstream media doing that every day of the week and people like me would frankly like to see some positive articles to start off our day. YKA has a lot of negativity lying around in its potrayal of Indian society, art, culture.
    4) Sexism and gender bias (Read as man hate)
    Where to begin with this, whether it is man hate pieces like “What the internet gave the Kerala Man (Apart from Porn)” the the absolute ignorance of mens rights movement and false rape accusations and exploitation of gender biased laws around India, YKA always takes two steps forward to apparently “empower” women by hating, insulting and misrepresenting Indian men. A hub for white knights and feminazis YKA stands out as one of the most sexist Indian website to have ever existed which frankly makes Buzzfeed stand back in awe.
    5) Articles to wish celebrities happy birthday, happy married life etc
    No idea what the inspiration is behind these articles. Please go wish them in their facebook page or twitter. Find something better for your subject.
    6) Finally why I keep coming back
    YKA covers topics and issues from all over India and the world puts it in a capsule consumable by the youngest generation in this country through this website. The discussions often lead to better outlooks, may have led to better articles. It is doing commendable work in bringing the young people together on issues. Topics that are taboo and often overlooked by mainstream media

  2. Pranjal

    Maybe you should stop thinking other people have “prehistoric mind-sets”. It is one thing to say that the origin of certain ideas can be traced to historical origins, e.g. democracy in the French revolution; radical monotheism in the Quran, etc; and quite another to say that the mindset is itself historical. Every mindset or subjectivity is produced in the now, in the present. Sexism and feminist thought is reproduced every single day. And in anycase, appealing to ‘backward’ or ‘forward’ ideals does not legitimise the argument itself. There can be great wisdom in commonplace sayings, and likewise, grave foolishness in spontaneous radicalism.

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
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