“Man is defined as a human being and woman as a female—whenever she behaves as a human being, she is said to imitate the male.”
This famous quote by Simone de Beauvoir (one of the most prominent feminists of the 20th century) aptly sums up why women are not expected to speak up, or voice their opinions or, anguish or, rights. Ever since the later Vedic ages, men were told they were superior to women and the latter was taught to oblige their masculine counterparts. It is not surprising that even today (the year 2020) most men and conservative women try to uphold that, for parampara must be followed.
We, as people living in the post-modern age, are lonely. Very often do we find ourselves at a loss when we want to communicate what we feel and more importantly, how we feel, but very rarely do we find anybody to communicate our emotions with. Cheap accessible internet (thanks to Jio) has bridged that gap.
With new social media algorithms on a roll every few months (like stories, reels, fleets), we find ourselves expressing even our most controversial opinions online. However, what is not acceptable are unwanted opinions from people who do not have any constructive to offer. In the last one year alone, cyberbullying of Indian women and teenagers rose by 36%.
Feminists Vs Trolls
Frankly, no! Criticism is constructive, trolling feminists is baseless. Criticism provides reason and counter-arguments that make sense. While trolls are those who blame Anushka Sharma for Virat Kohli’s poor performance on the ground. This is just an example. Trolling is bullying, but online. For years, women have been told to not dress in trousers or shirts, for, it is not feminine. Is it a constructive argument? I don’t think so.
To reiterate Beauvoir, it is simply telling women not to be like ‘men’. For centuries, men have exploited the invisible power vested upon them by some sages in the later Vedic period. While some families have educated themselves out of the toxic patriarchal nonsense, most are still succumbing to it. And these are the same victims of patriarchy that confidently go on the internet to teach feminists why they should always remain puppets in the hands of men. Yes, these victims are called trolls.
Men often wonder why the movement is termed as feminist when all women want is equality (in terms of pay parity, opportunities, rights, respect and in every aspect.) However, equality can only be propagated when men and women are at the same positions. Thus, it is feminism and not equality.
Until both the genders are provided with the same opportunities, it is a fight to attain the position that men have in a society, that is predominantly patriarchal. Equality can only be achieved when the upholders of patriarchy begin to accept women as their equals.
Some might argue that equality has already been achieved in our society. May be theoretically, we did because our constitution says so. But did we really achieve equality? Remember when back in 2011, Scarlett Johansson was called names and slut-shamed when her nude images were leaked and doing rounds on the internet? She was not even the one who uploaded it, yet, instead of being empathetic towards a victim of cyber-crime, she was trolled for clicking nude images of herself.
Almost a decade later, when recently, Chris Evans had a mishap due to a fault that is his own, he was treated with kindness by netizens. All over social media women flocked his mentions with cute photos of him with his pet. Did anybody call him a slut for leaking his own genitals? No. If the world is so empathetic, then why did ScarJo have to go through all the cyberbullying when she was a victim herself?
This is a classic example of the lack of empathy that men have for women. Men are Aristotelian heroes, who are flawed and yet, respected. While, women for years, are known as the reason why they are flawed. Women, in this country, are seen as embodiments of Goddesses. Hence, mistakes are not something that they are supposed to make. But, do women really want to be the embodiment of goddesses? Maybe, no! As far as I know, women want to be seen as humans, equally capable of doing everything that men can do.
Media and advertisements are responsible for misogynistic trolls
Blender’s Pride prides in claiming that Men will be men. In most of their campaigns, we see a bunch of respectably suited men gazing at the woman (the object of their desire.) This uncomfortable objectification of women is what gives men an upper hand over women. It transcends to teenage boys lusting after women through condescending comments and messages on women’s social media posts.
Deodorant TVCs can be single-handedly charged for perpetrating harassment among teenagers and adults. The way the men in the deodorant commercials force themselves upon women without prior consent raise concerns as to who even finds it acceptable to be played on television (which has a major impact on people.)
For years, women have been used to invoke cheap laughter by compromising their basic respect. Movies have taught us to troll an Anjali for dressing in ‘not-so-womanly’ attires while teaching us how to respect the same woman when she reappears in long hair and chiffon sarees. The idea of femininity is so rigged that whenever women try to break through the established moulds, they are shown their position (as anti-feminist trolls would term it.)
Feminist-Trolling-Threatening: A series of unfortunate events
If you are a feminist and if you have ever opined anything against the inequality and misogyny women face in their daily lives, you must have been mansplained by strangers or family members on what is wrong with today’s women. Sometimes, this mansplaining goes downhill when internet enthusiasts come at women with nothing constructive but hoards of slurs and cusses and often threatening rape.
I wonder if men would ever be threatened rape or murder for voicing their free speech. And this is why in spite of internet trolling by anonymous accounts, feminist movement through social media is important. It is important to educate people on why we are far away from attaining the equality that our constitution claims.
Nobody bestowed the trolls with the onus of rectifying feminists or the movement. Educating them the need of the movement, should help, but are they ready to learn?