The personal has always been political, but the internet just seems to have woken up to it very, very recently. What I’ve noticed about awakenings that happen to people through a bunch of Twitter threads and IG stories, is that it lasts for a tiny duration, in comparison to the systemic violence it rages against.
The irony of this article being part of the internet is not lost on me, I assure you. Before I was introduced to the actual power the world wide web holds for people to tell their stories, I was in school and at one point, had nine consecutive hate posts about my gorgeous self plastered on my school’s Official Confessions Page in 2013.
But, this is not about me. Even though for the past 24 hours or so, I’ve been made to relive a variety of experiences that I’m sure every young woman who has ever gone to school has lived as well. To be honest, I’m not sure that all of this is about one specific thing anyway, so here’s a bunch of thoughts I had. 10 points for that Golwalkar pun. Reference to context: here.
Fool. If “not all men are like that” is the first thought that pops into thy head, then I bring thee news. Thou art parteth of the problem. Why and how, thou asketh?
By saying, thinking and believing “not all men…” you’re missing the point. By miles. To begin with, no one is making any claims about “all men“ in the first place. (Fellow Philosophy grads, pitch in!) The conversation is about how privilege that was awarded to a person on the virtue of their sex and gender creates a culture of no accountability and exploitation that’s quite literally based on a bra size and a waist size. Lots of fancy words, I know. Here’s a meme to sum it up:
I mean, teenage boys will use “Valar Morghulis ⚔️“ as a caption for their 14th mirror selfie upload but not Google the meaning. (???) No hate though. You do you.
Might as well. For the uninitiated, this is a rager in Indian schools in regions where Hindi is the primary language. It goes, “andi mandi sandi, jo na ____, uski maa r*ndi!” It translates to, “andi mandi sandi, whoever doesn’t ____, their mom’s a whore!” The blanks can be used to insert any action that may be asked of – dancing spontaneously, laughing, singing, jumping, you get the point.
When I first heard this in school, I was yucked out beyond belief. Not at the insult that was so aggressively being engineered through this great phrase, but at the conformity it was asking for.
If you did not follow what came next in the command chain, you were the child of a whore or sex worker. That’s actually the nicer way of putting it. The syntax is important here. The implication that your mother is a whore has greater reverberations than implying that you’re her child.
This is why I was obsessed with samaas (the closest thing in English I can think of is compounding words) while studying Hindi grammar. It’s not my first language, but this gave me ammunition when it came to understanding what people were saying and how they were saying it.
Nope. This is biologically impossible and socially unacceptable. Light some candles, put on some peaceful music and introspect. Change is good, change is fun! Ask Gautama Buddha!
…Is Toxic If It’s Irresponsible. Sorry guys, I know it feels great to say someone is cancelled and make #MyExIsOverParty trend on Twitter but it doesn’t work if you’re only doing it online and not in real life. It is VERY painful and difficult to engage in cancel culture when a perpetrator/abuser/harasser/violator/rapist is someone you know in person and not someone who’s been revealed. Often, the process of cutting off such people from one’s life requires courage and determination that has no safety net.
Not to say that it shouldn’t be done. By all means, cancel locker room talk, but also cancel that uncle who stares at your midriff two seconds too long at every family event. The latter will involve a lot more than a screenshot and a repost though. But, do it. Kyunki… mamaji bhi kabhi locker room boi the (Because… your uncle was also part of that locker room).
Don’t condone this. Hold your guy friends accountable. They will accuse you of ‘overreacting’, ‘taking things too far’, and ‘being a spoilsport’. Pull a Pooja Mishra and then say, “I did it by mistake.” If that still doesn’t get the point across, move on.
Don’t let things become a Janet Jackson-Justin Timberlake at the Superbowl.
It’s been years and I still don’t know why Katy Perry has an album by this name.
Being one of the boys is not as great as movies tell you it is. And I don’t mean it in the Kuch Kuch Hota Hai context. I mean it in a very real-life context. If your guy friends are making you choose between social security based on if you laugh at dick and boob jokes and thinking that all human beings deserve respect and that their autonomy should not be violated, pick the option that’ll let you sleep at night.
Yet, this is not a binary. Most things about gender never are. I guess what I’m trying to say is, Neville Longbottom it. If this reference flew over your head, I’m gonna give you my favourite piece of advice: read!
Remember when Jennifer Lawrence was among 300 people whose iCloud storage was leaked, and the whole world jumped to conclusions about how loose actresses are? Yeah, pretty unforgettable.
Yet, no one asked why the hacker felt compelled to violate someone’s privacy the way he did. All comments were directed straight to Lawrence who had to be a slut to have taken nude photos of herself. Some even said that she was ‘practically naked’ when she played Mystique, so why was this such a big deal?
Enter consent. I personally love it when consent enters a discussion. It’s a great way to equalise a room.
For a country whose pornographic demands rest heavily on violation and abuse, it should come as no surprise that there exists an entire subculture of hoarding, sharing, and misusing nudes without consent.
Let’s go back to a particular pivot in the Mahabharata when Draupadi was dragged to a full-court and stripped of her clothing because… some men wanted it to be done.
And yet, it is her pride that is often blamed for a war that only men called for, fought and died in.
Someone had once told me that I was the “type of girl one gets married to.” I have never taken a deeper offence to anything else I was told. I never asked this person to describe me or give me a palm reading for my future. I was someone to get married to as opposed to what exactly?
I never got my answer but I had more questions. Who decides who is marriage-able and who is not? Why was this thought in his head when we were 16 years old? Why is he thinking of marriage? During physics? I literally do not know how to do this numerical? And he is thinking of shaadi? E=shaadi square? Should I ask him to watch The First Wives Club?
Official [insert school name] Confessionz Page. Ask.fm. Never forget.
Boy, did this ruin lives, friendships and relationships in school. All identities of submissions rested with page admins on Facebook. If that didn’t scare children, why should a group chat and the availability of changing your username on IG?
People didn’t think twice before violating their classmates in disgusting ways online. Then, they graduated with the same classmates like nothing had gone wrong. Like they had not participated in a shit show of the lowest order and gotten nothing but a warning from the school administration for their actions.
It’s the most unfair part of being on the internet, really. Your perp always has the option of walking away scot-free. The veil that social media provides is perfect for malice and horror to flourish. But, at least you can say that you lived during the time Harvey Weinstein went to jail because one woman decided to share her story.
You knew this was coming sooner or later. Basic equality between the sexes is nearly not as bad as you think it is. Imagine if Jai-Veeru was a female friendship. Those are real tight. We’d die for each other too.
As far as this one group chat is concerned, to be honest, I am not surprised. Disappointed, but not surprised. The only thing apparent to me is how long the fight is and how excluding men from the conversation was clearly a disastrous idea.
Content and conditioning all around you is telling you to vilify your fellow woman. Don’t fall for it. It’s a nasty trap. Take it from me, a safe space with other women—not even McDonald’s fries come close.
I shall now give you my final example.
My mother had once made this very wise quip, “Take Malala Yousufzai and Monica Lewinsky. Both lead lives that have been irreversibly scarred by men. Yet, why is Malala a hero and Monica not?”