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May 08 2013

If you don’t want abuse, get off the internet, India edition

It’s so familiar. Sagarika Ghose, an Indian journalist and tv news anchor, got threats to herself and her daughter.

“Targeting me for my journalism is fine. But when it is sexist and foul-mouthed abuse which insults my gender identity I get incredibly angry. In the beginning I used to retaliate, but that would lead to more abuse.”

Ms Ghose says women abused on Twitter in India tend to to be “liberal and secular”.

“The abusers are right wing nationalists, angry at women speaking their mind. They have even coined a term for us – ‘sickular’.”

So many people are angry at women speaking their minds.

Kavita Krishnan, a prominent Delhi-based women’s activist, was attacked viciously during a recent online chat on violence against women on Rediff.com, one of India’s leading news websites.

“It began well. I had answered a few interesting questions. And then one person, with the handle @RAPIST, started posting abusive comments. He then asked me where he could come to rape me using a condom,” she said.

She says she decided to leave the chat after the abuse continued.

So @RAPIST won and she lost.

Writer-activist Meena Kandasamy chose to go to the police when she faced sexist abuse online.

Last year, she had tweeted about a beef-eating festival at a university in the city of Hyderabad after which she was threatened with “live-telecasted gang-rape and being torched alive and acid attacks”.

K Jaishankar, a teacher of criminology who has been studying bullying, stalking and defamation of women online, says India’s “patriarchal mindset has pervaded the internet space”.

“Men don’t like women to talk back. Public personalities who express strong opinions are trolled in a bid to force them off line,” he says.

So, very, familiar.

H/t Scr… Archivist

8 comments

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  1. 1
    Argle Bargle

    That seems so familiar. I wonder if Vacula & Co. are considering outsourcing their harassment to India.

  2. 2
    Ophelia Benson

    Zing!

  3. 3
    Gretchen Robinson

    the goal is to silence women and treat us thereafter as things, objects to be used and discarded.
    It’s in every country. In Great Britain it’s the many pubs called the Silent Woman and a swinging double-sided sign of a headless woman.

    So are the many stories of punishing people by cutting out their tongues out throughout the centuries of western Christianity. Those images and tropes ride along in our unconscious. We women too often play it safe but in this time we have more freedom to speak on the internet but the misogynists are in high gear.

    Never be a silent woman. Risk every day. Unless you are in a threatening culture or country. Remember there is safety in numbers.

  4. 4
    Gretchen Robinson

    read Dana Crowley Jack—Silencing the Self: Women and Depression. We are silenced when we lose self esteem or never gain our confidence.

  5. 5
    Aratina Cage

    So, very, familiar.

    Very, try as they will to deny it.

  6. 6
    'dirigible

    “In Great Britain it’s the many pubs called the Silent Woman and a swinging double-sided sign of a headless woman.”

    I’d never encountered this before. Wikipedia sa:

    “Silent Woman, Quiet Lady or Headless Woman: The origin is uncertain, with various local stories, such as a landlady whose tongue was cut out by smugglers so she couldn’t talk to the authorities,[14] or a saint beheaded for her Christianity.[15] The pub signs sometimes have an image of a decapitated woman or the couplet: “Here is a woman who has lost her head / She’s quiet now—you see she’s dead”.[15]”

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pub_names

  7. 7
    bonobrat

    There is currently a Silent Woman restaurant in Fennimore, Wisconsin (it reopened under that name in 2011 after a hiatus). There was another one in Waterville, Maine that closed only in the mid-1980s.

    That phrase is also the subtitle of a play by Shakespeare contemporary Ben Jonson, which might explain part of its popularity in the U.K.

  8. 8
    Tim Harris

    Jonson’s ‘Silent Woman’ was of course a boy.

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