The rule-maker of social media is coming out to be a lobby of men which dictates the women what they must write, how they must dress up and even how they must behave. Mahima explores the reason behind this male-dominated social media, which is a threat to women’s freedom-of-expression, in her regular column, exclusively in Different Truths.
We, the women, are often branded as either weak in technology or shouted off the internet, by trolls when we come out in open with our full intellectual might or for that matter even glamor. This tribe thrives on anti-publicity. The recent example being of Pakistani actor Mahira Khan trolled for being photographed smoking alongside Ranbir Kapoor. Who gives another person the right to decide her life? Will that person act the same way if two male actors were smoking together?
The answer is in the next question: Who rules the social media kingdom? Men. Or more specifically: A loud, hyper-vocal masculine character, who is often intolerant, at times even vulgar with an overbearing attitude.
Male Trolls Rule the Social Media
Just as most of the men consider life’s all freedom belongs to them, similarly, there is no dearth of men who seem to feel that cyberspace is their private den. An ‘adda’ where they can air their narrow-minded opinions, disseminate an unbelievable sexist innuendo and enjoy in this glorious kingdom.
I am very much sure once this article of mine is shared on a public forum, instead of being treated merely as an expression of my observations, it will be taken as a feminist extension of mine. And higher are the chances that I will be termed the following:
a) A loser who could not handle trolls
b) An idiot woman eating into their ‘precious time’ on internet
c) A housewife with too much spare time on hands, who decided to turn into a columnist, etc.
Some even might hunt out my FB profile and get personal too (Well, it has happened in the past and comes my way often!)
Women under Unnecessary Scrutiny
The point I am trying to make is, whatever a woman does to express herself in the cyberspace and which might/might not question patriarchy – why? Being a man, is it your birthright? Or should I question back your character, your upbringing, your mentality when you troll a woman?
But then, this tribe of men thrives on ‘replying back’ and the ‘viral media’, which makes them celebrities overnight. I won’t do that, so not complementary images to substantiate my observation and related expression.
Only a Few Men Talk Sense/Act Sensible
Here I will accept that the number of warm, supportive, respectful men is slowly rising.
For instance, a social media friend Deepak Acharya recently saw me being trolled on his Facebook timeline. Deepak had shared one of my articles, a travel story. The trolling man (yes, it was a man again, not a woman) began mud-slinging, writing about my personal life and choices. Deepak not only deleted the abuse after giving it back to that person but also later blocked the abusive man. He even personally messaged me not to reply back, not to feel bad and added he stands in support. I really felt at peace. Being a journalist it might not affect me, but being human, at times does.
But this number of sympathetic men is small. Most men will see, read, speak against ‘bad men’ among their peer group but stay silent in public….till it happens to the women of their family (if at all allowed to be in cyberspace).
A Dearth of Empathy
Emma Watson recently tweeted about her recent photo leaks, “Even worse than seeing women’s privacy violated on social media is reading the accompanying comments that show such a lack of empathy.”
So, feel free to call me a feminist, a cry-baby or an extremist. I know what substance you are made of and it is you who have taught me that.
So I end it here with beautiful words of C. Joybell C, “Predators prey on gentleness, peace, calmness, sweetness, and any positivity that they sniff out as weakness. Anything that is happy and at peace, they mistake for weakness. It’s not your job to change these people, but it’s your job to show them that your peace and gentleness do not equate to weakness. The truth is that predators have no strength and no courage. It is you who are strong, and it is you who has courage.”
It is this courage of a woman in social media ruled by men that made me speak out!
Photos from the Internet
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A science graduate from Delhi University and MA in Mass Communication, Mahima began her career with E-Lexicon PR & Mutual PR and Hindustan Times. Soon, ANI (a collaboration with Reuters) got her aboard, where she spread her wings in TV, Print & Digital Journalism. In 2010 Rajdeep Sardesai’s flagship primetime show gave her, a dream job at CNN-IBN. From May 2017, she is a freelance journalist. She is a poet and a Sufi at heart.