Behind The Mask Of Sanskaars: How The Internet Has Been Toxic To Women In 2017

Posted by Surabhi Pandey in #NoPlace4Hate
December 29, 2017
Facebook logoEditor’s Note: With #NoPlace4Hate, Youth Ki Awaaz and Facebook have joined hands to help make the Internet a safer space for all. Watch this space for powerful stories of how young people are mobilising support and speaking out against online bullying.

The internet is a revolution that has given birth to various new ways of communication. It has changed the entire face of expressing, sharing and reacting to anything. It has given birth to citizen journalism and  has given a voice to millions. It seems like a good thing, it should have been a good thing. But, sadly, it has turned into something else – something ugly, and unfortunately something real. If you want to peep into the real faces of the ‘Indian society’, or should I say the ‘sanskaari Indian society’ – a clan of cultured (read orthodox) people who show off their ‘strong roots and noble virtues’ – just go to the comments section of any random video/post on social media.

When it comes to pouring outrage and hatred, we Indians find the most absurd places to vent our emotions out! Women getting raped, children getting slaughtered in schools, our national capital being a smog field, honor killing, absurdity in the name of religion, unemployment, declining economy, etc. are all a waste of time – right? Why invest time and research to do something about real issues when we can sit at home, enjoy anonymity and go on blabbering shit about whoever we want? Let us show these women that they are all whores and below us!

As if 5,000 years of patriarchal abuse was not enough, even social media seems to have become a new tool to look down upon women. Male celebrities can casually post shirtless photographs and what not, no one cares. But the moment a female celebrity decides to share something, netizens are ready with their nasty comments. From bikinis to saris and opinions to gestures – everything and anything can go wrong.

According to these people, sometimes women are too fat while sometimes they are just too thin. Sometimes they are overdressed and sometimes they are under-dressed. Sometimes they are too covered and sometimes they are ‘slutty’. Sometimes they are absolutely ‘un-ladylike’ while sometimes they are too lady like. Social media doesn’t seem to catch a break when it comes to hating female celebrities.
Only in the last one year, so many women celebrities were trolled for illogical reasons:

  • Priyanka Chopra was trolled for ‘showing too much leg’ while meeting Prime Minister Modi in Berlin.
  • Deepika Padukone was on the receiving end of public outrage for her photo shoot for Maxim magazine. She was trolled for everything – her attire, her complexion and her pose.
  • Zaira Wasim was first trolled over her meeting Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti and recently for speaking up against a molester! She had to write an open letter apology for the former case!
  • Fatima Sana Shaikh was first trolled for posting a picture in a bikini during Ramzan and later she was trolled for a ‘shameless selfie’ in a sari
  • Esha Gupta faced social media bullying when she posted a picture of herself on Instagram. She was slut shamed several times for posting pictures from a photo shoot.
  • Malaika Arora was bullied when a photographer posted her picture appreciating her fashion sense. She was shamed for “divorcing rich guy and using the alimony to buy stuff.”
  • Kalki Koechlin was trolled for her nude photo, which went viral.
  • Richa Chadha was trolled for a statement made in favor of Pakistani actor Fawad Khan.
  • Ameesha Patel was slut shamed for posting selfies on social media.
  • Taapsee Pannu was trolled for wearing a ‘short dress’. “Due to such stuff male’s attract to seduce girl. And harassment,” a twitter user wrote.
  • Sonam Kapoor, Disha Patani and Mahira Khan were among other celebrities who got slut shamed for wearing ‘bold dresses’.

Where are we going as a nation? What has happened to us? Why do we have so much trouble with women being themselves around us? Where does all this negative energy come from? Don’t we have good things and happiness to share? Have we lessened to become a pit of nastiness and sick thoughts?

Imagine, if celebrities go through so much; what can happen to people like you and me? As a writer, I often try to discuss issues that matter and have been at the receiving end of a lot of hatred too. Healthy feedback and even criticism, for that matter, are more than welcome but when people stoop down to abuse and nastiness, I feel sad. I don’t feel sad for myself. I feel it for them. These people are in a state of pity and need help. They must understand that on the dotcom space or in the real world, there is no place for hate.

We need to grow above these narrow minded activities, and look at the bigger picture. Social media bullying affects people who have done nothing wrong, leads to depression and chronic anxiety. Let us take a resolution that we will leave all this negativity behind this year. Let 2018 be the start of a positive age, a space where everyone is loved. Let us join hands to fight against social media bullying.