Being a woman…

…is not easy at times. This is not the first time I’ve spoken up against online abuse and it will not be the last. Yet, it never seems to end. As a woman, the minute you say something the majority doesn’t agree with, you’re targeted. Sometimes it’s people making you see sense, sometimes it is those who malign you and question your integrity and at other times it is those who threaten you into silence. But, almost always, the fact that you’re a woman is held against you.
If you follow me on twitter, you’ll know that I have refrained from commenting on politics and especially on the political right wing in India. This is mainly because I find objectivity sorely lacking in Indian political discourse. The attitude usually is, “if you’re not with me, you’re against me”. To elaborate, you either believe that the BJP Prime Ministerial candidate is the best thing to have happened to India or you’re a dynasty apologist. People like me who harbour a certain ambivalence to both mainstream parties and almost every other party in-between are considered outcasts. Indeed, there can be no middle path in Indian politics today. This basically forced me, and I believe many others like me, into preferring to watch from the sidelines.
In this situation, the news that Muthalik had joined the BJP shocked me into speaking out. So outraged was I with the idea that a hooligan could actually be admitted into a mainstream political party that could well be tomorrow’s ruling elite that I finally sent one one tweet on rethinking my ambivalence to the party.
Less than three hours after that tweet went out, I found myself inundated by @ mentions and retweets suggesting that I should go lick the feet of the Congress. The reactions did not stop there. As is usually the case, they extended to my character and my beliefs, even my family and my person. One well-meaning critic asked me what I know of Muthalik apart from what’s published by the mainstream “paid” media. Some critics helpfully pointed out that being a woman, I should watch out.
To all these people I have just question. Can’t you think of any better way to disagree with a person other than to malign her character and threaten her into silence? I find misogyny so rampant in the online world that nobody even stops to think about it any more. The last time I spoke out against the hooliganism of the Ram Sene in Mangalore, I was threatened and intimidated. There is no guarantee that this won’t happen again. In fact, I’m pretty sure that if I we’re to speak out against any political party at all, I’d be targeted in much the same way.
I find that otherwise rational and normal human beings become strangely intolerant when they start supporting one or the other political party. This is true about people across the political spectrum. What explains this? The need to belong? The need to identify with a group, however big or small? Or is it simply that ambiguity and ambivalence are too difficult for them to take? I don’t have answers. And perhaps never will.

One thought on “Being a woman…

  1. valluvarselvan says:

    It happens to all.When I was in Bombay which is supposed to be better than other places and considered a cosmopolitan city,I was reminded of my vulnerability and advised to be careful while expressing my opinions/point of view on things considered controversial and against the majority’s opinion.By vulnerability he probably had my minority status in many respects.He himself seemed to be hurt by what I was telling about the craze about being considered Aryans and hence descendants of European invaders/settlers.

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