Social media has come to be an integral part of all our lives. When it comes to the role of social media in the feminist movement, we have witnessed how it has helped amplify the marginalised voices as well as become detrimental to do so. From fake profiles, rampant trolling to deep-fakes and doxxing, there is a lot to the ugly side of social media that the feminist movement witnesses day in and out.
When Carry Minati – a popular social media influencer – shared the now deleted ‘roast’ video “YouTube vs TikTok”, one of his comments directed at Amir Siddiqui, a popular TikTok user, were: “Mithai ki dukaan pe 200 rupaye me bik jaayega…”. The term “mithai” is rampantly used on social media as a derogatory reference to gay people.
The National Commission for Women (NCW) demanded action against Faizal Siddique, a TikTok regular, after he made a video normalising acid attack. “Did the man you left me for leave you?” he is seen asking a girl, following which he splashes what is shown as acid on to her face. Another TikTok video that did the rounds portrayed an act of rape of a woman by two men. YouTubers Lakshay Chaudhary and Elvish Yadav recently uploaded roast videos, making fun of and projecting their archaic viciousness onto women social media influencers such as Debiparna Chakraborty, Kusha Kapila to name a few, and insisted that women who enjoy smoking and drinking are “pseudo feminists” and “against our culture”. Elvish repeatedly evoked the “woman card” in his video, almost as if he was spitting it out because it burned his tongue every time he said it!
It is furthermore disturbing (though not surprising) to see scores of people condoning their misplaced rants in the comments’ section. This is why I believe that arguments without a proper understanding of movements such as feminism and casteism could only lead to a rabid mob attack of which social media is a convenient hotbed. This further leads to a dismissal of the voices of several womxn who have been survivors of varied forms of abuse. Especially, when these influencers spitefully evoke the “woman card” and as a response, promote violence against women exhibiting their (lack of) understanding of equality.
Their hypocrisy reflects well in how the debate of equality vs feminism is not raised when it comes to the everyday division of household chores and child-rearing that is naturally assumed to be a woman’s primary responsibility. Why are women still expected to be perfect homemakers? Why are women expected to be compliant and docile all the time? Why is not the same debate raised then?
The #NotAllMen tirade against feminism attempts to change the narratives and posit women as perpetrators. For instance, that men are victims of sexual abuse and not all men are bad are arguments that are only and always raised as a counter to every rape case or MeToo allegation that is highlighted. The issues that men face should not be raised conveniently as a defence when womxn speak up about their issues. Not all men rape, yet women worry about their safety when they step out in the dark. Almost 32,632 rapes were reported in 2018. In a patriarchal society, we all are well aware about which gender has to suffer more and has to fight more to survive, so everyone, including men, should acknowledge and be sensitive towards the problems that women face rather than countering them.
Feminism in no way attempts to dismiss anyone’s trauma to highlight womxn’s struggles. It is correct that not all men rape, not all are bad, men too, experience sexual abuse and related trauma, however it is obsolete to evoke these facts and figures only as arguments against feminism.
Another misplaced remark that the feminist movement on social media often generates is the “Women Card”. It is largely an accusation to indicate how women use their gender standpoint to shirk accountability, get out of situations or achieve things that they are deemed unqualified for “if it was not for her being a woman”. The subtle irony that often goes unnoticed here is, how in dissing the “woman card”, the society that largely swore by Manusmriti and its relegation of women to a subordinate status, accepts that this particular gender symbolises weakness after all. This is a proof in itself of how women have been treated unfairly for decades.
It becomes even more difficult to navigate through the hate for feminism on social media, when young women like Divyangana Trivedi, who is a law student living in London – with the kind of opportunities and privilege to bring about real change – take to social media to give absurd justifications like “there is no men in feminism and so it harms men.” Their misplaced, half-baked understanding is then lauded by those supporting them saying “Yes!! Bravo!! You are a real woman“. Dhruv Rathee, whose policy and political analysis on YouTube got him fame, also made a tone-deaf commentary on how the term feminism itself “favours women”, thus disadvantaging men.
On the other hand, to deem feminism bogus and an exclusive affair that unfairly targets men itself comes from a position of privilege. This standpoint that one has located themselves at, thanks to the opportunities and the rights they had access to, also forgets how several feminist activists fought for the rights that they have today. The arguments by the likes of Divyangana Trivedi or Dhruv Rathee manage to still focus on the rights of the gender that has been in the dominant and advantaged position, unlike the other genders.
Aadya Singh is a 4th year law student. She has deep interest in feminism and other issues pertaining women. Having witnessed inequalities based on gender, Aadya hopes to shed light on the issues that women face in our country through her writings. She can be found on Facebook.
Featured Image Source: Elvish Yadav Vlogs