By Arunima Singh:
I have recently started using Twitter a lot, and it hasn’t been all that fun.
Like anyone with opinions on Twitter, I tweet mine. They are either related to the country or cricket. When it comes to politics I am mostly critical – of all governments. And now there seems to be a great distinction. As long as you criticise the past governments, past corruption, everything that ‘was’, people on the internet are unaffected; sometimes they even scream in support. But the minute you say a word against the present government, the current political atmosphere of this nation, the shams and the horrid policies, prepare to be bombarded with attacks ranging from ‘Leftist Commie Anti-National’ to ‘Paid Media Presstitute’ and ‘Commie Congi’.
They do not care that many in the Left align to a real ideology, Marxism, and I don’t become leftist till I decide to. If people became communists by criticising governments, countries like America, not Russia would be ‘Leftist’, ‘Commie’, and so on. The whole ‘Paid Presstitutes’ angle is even dumber, if anything. Well, for starters, I would need to be in the Press, right?
Finally, Communists and Congress are not the same things and I for one am neither. But that’s never a matter of concern. You are called these things regardless.
But what I feel the need to point out here is how this name-calling turns into disgusting cyber-bullying and rape threats when the subject of the wrath of these so-called nationalists are women. (I would like to clarify, cyber-bullying and rape threats are not limited to a particular section of people. It has become a tool to shut women up or to demean their arguments. Remember the ‘Make me a Sandwich’ excuse of a joke?)
Coming back to the point, very recently I posted something about Bhagat Singh being a Marxist, and a lot of derogatory remarks followed. A lot of them calling me the names stated above, some questioning my IQ level, yet others saying I have insulted Shaheed by talking about his ideology. Ironic isn’t it? Moving on, this is something most people on the internet are no strangers to. What happened next, though, was absolutely disgusting, to say the least.
After a tweet from this one account which asked me if I was a Communist or not, to which I am not even sure I needed to reply, obviously, this man started calling others misogynist etc. This argument concluded with him saying that I deserve to be molested, raped, so on and so forth.
It was shocking, and extremely disgusting, to say the least. I couldn’t fathom how the discussion had led someone who, by the way, has ‘Nationalist’ and ‘Satyamev Jayate’ written in his bio to decide to take an argument to such a conclusion. I first retweeted his words, then out of sheer disgust and, honestly, to save myself more of this, blocked the account.
I have since then shared that with Unofficial: Subramaniam Swamy who had shared the same on their page, and a lot of support poured on my Twitter account too. An FIR will be filed soon.
The point remains, how easy, how simple is it to belittle my argument because I’m a woman? Very much so. To make someone feel like a lesser human being in a debate just because she happens to be a woman, to bring in rape threats in arguments so you don’t have to bother with making a logical statement… how very simplistic.
Cyber-bulling is a threat to our liberty, and rape threats to women among other things are as shameful as it gets. In the name of nationalism, somehow people justify everything today. Does your nation only comprise of people who follow your thoughts, word by word, then? I shouldn’t have to prove to anyone what I believe in to be treated respectfully. By the virtue of being human beings, we owe that much to each other.
Sexism is very real. I face that every other day when a man decides to tell me I am not qualified enough to talk about cricket or participate in political discussions simply because I am a woman. It’s hurtful.
But the mother of all ironies is the current ‘radical nationalism’ which knows no bounds! What exactly does ‘Bharat Mata ki Jai’ mean, if you go on to make rape threats to the mothers and daughters in India in the same breath if they disagree with you?