People hate women who speak their minds online. And it’s becoming increasingly difficult to ignore this disturbing reality.
When Deeksha Sharma, a reporter at The Quint, critiqued self-made rapper Omprakash Mishra’s comically horrid “Bol Na Aunty Aau Kya” the reactions that came pouring in were nothing short of disgusting. She was bullied by various fans of the artist, and threatened with rape. Even more troubling were those threats that dropped murdered journalist Gauri Lankesh’s name, saying Sharma would face the same fate.
So. Coming to the age-old question – was she ‘asking for it’? Of course not. But it happened anyway. And we need to ask why.
It all started on September 11, when a crowd of 500 people showed up at Connaught Place to chant the lyrics of the song. The event was organised as a joke, but ended up being quite the spectacle. At the time, it seemed like a harmless (if excessive and annoying) activity.
The lyrics are rapey and misogynist to boot, sang from the perspective of a young man who wants to force his way into the aforementioned Aunty’s life, and her body too. What made the Connaught Place incident so unbearable was that hundreds of people physically came out of their homes to condone the song by literally lending their voices to it. An earlier story on Youth Ki Awaaz pointed out how the mass mobilisation around the song was significant, impressive even, but the song and its values were bound to have a negative impact.
And that’s exactly what ended up happening. Fans for whom harassment has been normalised by songs like “Bol Na Aunty” are not above carrying over that same harassment in their daily lives. It takes nothing to sign in and threaten to violate another person’s human rights. And the internet is saturated with such instances. In fact, a survey by Feminism In India found that while 50% of female internet-users face it, very few report what happens. Fewer still know what legal action to take.
For many women, the internet can provide a refuge from the misogyny and sexism of the outside world. But all of this turns to ashes as soon as those same hate-fueled actions begin to pop up in inboxes, comments, emails, threatening phone calls and more.
In our collective fight against rape culture, the incidents around “Bol Na Aunty” present yet another challenge. It’s almost reminiscent of the fiasco that broke out over rapper Yo Yo Honey Singh’s music, and songs like “Choot” which was described as “[promoting] a permissive and casual attitude to sexual assault.”
Misogyny is hate. And whether it’s a poorly performed song or a violent comment on our Facebook profile, we have to weed it out.