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No Prizes For Guessing What Happened When Malayalam Star Parvathy Took On Sexism

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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 Scoop

Recently, an actress made a statement about the titular character in a ‘masala flick’ and how it portrayed women. The stage where the actress made her opinion was at the open forum of the International Film Festival of Kerala (IFFK).

I believe this preface has given enough clues to identify the parties involved. This statement was made by the actress Parvathy regarding the Malayalam movie “Kasaba“, released in 2016. She made this statement due to derogatory and sexist scenes and dialogues in the movie. This wasn’t the first time that this movie was receiving flak either.

Even though it’s now a year old, Parvathy was referring to that movie as an example of how women are portrayed in mainstream movies. Parvathy is entitled to her opinion and the discussion should have ended there – but later, the backlash was so demeaning that it became evident that this was a clear case of social-media shaming.

Neither is this limited to the case of just one Parvathy – this new age of bullying engulfs many (irrespective of their gender) without a care, in the preposterous actions they commit.

Breakdown Of The Impulse

Let’s break down the incident to grasp the intricacies involved.

Here, we have a bunch of seemingly over-anxious hooligans who term themselves as fanatics of what, in my opinion, is rudimentary behavior. One can clearly see that this isn’t a simple disagreement – it is purposeful abuse via social media.

While going through these forums, we may notice that a number of fans aren’t happy with her statement. In my opinion, it is to be expected that their punctured masculinity would bounce back with disagreements and by challenging the credibility of the opposite party. In this case, however, the threshold of decency was crossed long back – and the disagreements have changed into rape and death threats.

One of the clear rules of a fandom is to be loyal to it – which, in my opinion, is only natural. After all, if you follow a certain person and make space for that person in your life, then it is only normal that you will defend your idol as well. We all belong to certain groups, and we are all fans of some celebrity/sportsperson/writer/poet/academician (the list goes on). But, when we utilize this attitude as an excuse to exercise something outside threshold of decency, then it becomes a problem.

The matter at hand is a clear case of cyber-bullying, where these so-called ‘fanatics’ are using the ‘third-person element’ of social media to their advantage, by ganging up on a single individual. I have seen the forums initiating the discussion, and it was nothing short of hooliganism, in my opinion. Many of them had no idea about the real incident and seldom paid attention to what had actually happened. Many of them followed the trend (like wolves), savouring the opportunity to shower a woman with abuses online.

Cyber-bullying is effectively growing in India . With the advent of new-age media, the perpetrators have got a veil of anonymity around them. After all, their digital persona are majorly free of ‘first-person’ interactions – and this gives them the immunity to operate, without actually having to face the person they are targetting.

I think that it is this digital cloak which further excites their perverted nature. In incidents like these, there are numerous discussion threads which shower abuses. To pinpoint the starting source and find the perpetrator is a daunting task, which often leads to a proxy IP address.

This is not an isolated incident. India has the third-highest number of cyber-bullying cases in the world. It is puzzling to see the vigor we are putting into spewing venom over the cyber-space, mostly due to our shameful egos and petty male chauvinism. People seldom realise that ganging up on a helpless individual is not helping their arguments about their hero’s/idol’s image. Instead, it only clarifies the impotency of their claims.

The Need For This Article

The need for this article is substantiated by two expressions:

1. To express my surprise at this collective and orderly aggression which was staged.

2. To express my disappointment in how the same dialogue was carried on by professionals in the same field of work.

It is quite shocking to realise that this agenda came from the very same society that boasts about free and fair speech as its mirror image.


Featured image source: Wikimedia commons
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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.

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