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The gross crime against humanity of being born a woman

Via Mona Eltahawy on Twitter – Pakistan has its “Twitterati” – “the artists, the journalists, the designers, the political analysts, the bloggers, the activists.” I follow quite a few of them myself.

But guess what – there’s a penalty. Of course there is.

But with fame comes the inevitable trolling. And unfortunately, if you’re in Pakistan, and you committed the gross crime against humanity of being born a woman, you’re a prime target. Any female professional in Pakistan who is active on Twitter will find herself vilified and harassed online simply because she is a woman who works, and (as is the case with many professionals) supports women’s rights and is a feminist. What’s alarming is that this trolling is not at all harmless tomfoolery. It is dangerous, violent, and misogynist to boot.

I first saw this form of violence against women when popular blogger, Mehreen Kasana, was the victim of a disgusting practical joke. Her head was photoshopped on an image of a woman dressed  in a “sexy” French maid outfit. Imagine the horror of waking up to find such an image all over the internet, hoping your siblings, cousins, relatives, etc. don’t come across that picture. I don’t know who was behind all of this, but it’s a disgusting thing, picking on women who happen to have a loud voice and state their opinions clearly and firmly.

I don’t have to imagine; I’ve had that: my head photoshopped onto a sexy body in a bikini, as punishment for constantly lying about how gorgeous and sexy I am.

Similar antics involved the activist Sana Saleem, where fake accounts with obscene names masqueraded as her, tweeting vile things about her, and even worst, these accounts would keep cropping  up as soon as one was shut down. It is a testament to Sana’s courage and resilience, because there is only so many times you can tell yourself that this is meaningless.

We’ve all had that – all of us who are objects of the misogynist campaign.

What is disappointing is that no one will view this as violence against women. No one will say that this is cyber harassment. No, if these women even dare to call this cyber harassment, they will be called attention-seekers, whiners, immature. Every time a woman is attacked, and she fights back, she is the one who is vilified.

Check, check, check. Not, to be sure, the “no one” part; no, in our case it’s far from no one. But it is a lot fewer people than we would have thought.

Well – solidarity forever, and all that.

Comments

  1. says

    What is disappointing is that no one will view this as violence against women. No one will say that this is cyber harassment.

    That’s right. As we know from experience, it’s “just talk” or “it’s a joke!” and the so-called reasoning follows “hey, if you can’t grow a thicker skin, if you can’t take it, get off the internet.”

  2. julian says

    No, if these women even dare to call this cyber harassment, they will be called attention-seekers, whiners, immature. Every time a woman is attacked, and she fights back, she is the one who is vilified.

    Often times by other women.

  3. says

    Julian:

    Often times by other women.

    It’s hardly a secret that women grow up in a culture of toxic sexism too. Thanks for the effort to attempt and take the focus away from the primary perpetrators, though.

  4. says

    I’ve had my head photoshopped on a sexy bikini body, too. Also on a Pikachu body with a raging hard-on. Of course, as a man, I found it mostly hilarious and showed it to all my friends. Not really viable reaction for a Pakistani woman, unfortunately.

  5. hypatiasdaughter says

    Remember how long it took to convince lawmakers that stalking was harmful and should be made a crime? The biggest objection was that much of the stalking behaviors happen in public spaces. Following someone or standing outside their building is perfectly legal. It took a long while to make people realize that the persistent and cumulative effect was destructive to the victim and should be made illegal.
    Looks like we will have the same uphill battle over cyber stalking.

    michaelbrew, thanks for understanding that the same actions can have different effects. But I bet that if they photo shopped you having sex with animals or children and posted them where your family, children, employer, neighbors and friends would constantly run across them, it would not be so funny.

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