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.