Bullies: Not just offline anymore

Cyber bullying seems to be the “in thing” these days. This post is not triggered in the wake of dhanya rajendran being unceremoniously abused online in her twitter account or the number of instagrammers i follow all report on cyber bullying where men/women of all age wants to pass lurid comments about you, your body and also their body.  Two weeks ago i was bullied by a guy to give up my seat in the public transport. I would have willfully given up my seat to the poor twenty something healthy guy if he had just asked. And for not wanting any early morning scenes which has a domino effect on a busy weekday I used all my energy to shut up and gave up my seat. This is okay. Understandable even. Atleast you see who is foul mouthing you and react accordingly.

Cyber bullies are a different class of their own. Most of us would have received the hi, how are you, you look great, your lips are perfect kind of message in the ‘filtered messages/others folder’ in our social website inboxes. Most of us, the humans that we are, ignore it too. Then there are those unknown persons that send you messages vulgarly, sometimes they include compromising pictures also, we report, delete and move on. Like its just another day and another idiot.  

I was a  victim, no not a victim, i experienced different kinds of bullying and i have kept mum for this long for the same reason that just another day, just another guy. But something in me snapped today. 

I ll tell you about the variety and different cases that were all part of the online bullying. Case 1: It started of with someone constantly messaging me and telling me i know them and i have to talk to them, saving my own photos and sending it to me. It was creepy as hell, i tried to figure who that person is, because  it was someone i knew from my college,  who was posing anonymous. After trying to hold a conversation, doing a little sleuthing and blocking fake ids and a hacked facebook account, it finally stopped.

Case 2: A particular person i have never spoken to in my undergrad, constantly pings me fullstop. You read that right. Full stop or dot. Whatever you want to call it. You may ask so what.. so did i.. to the point where it became a complete nuisance. I reasoned with him saying he must stop doing this crap only for him denying something like that. After which i had to block this guy in every social website possible and then i started receiving calls from this married gentleman at midnight (yes thanks to truecaller ID) and it continues till date. #stalkeralert

Case 3: This is the creepiest of all. Someone created a fake id with some other name and then spoke to people i know quite inappropriately i guess. I am not sure how to explain this shit, but i will do my best. According to this guy (who btw knows me very well or i assumed that much and disclaimer: he is married as well) some guy/girl used a fake id but said it was me and spoke a lot of inappropriate things and then he thought “But Aishwarya doesn’t speak this way”  and continued speaking because you see he is married and so he kind of got the privilege to flirt with random strangers (And “flirting” is the nicest term i can think of). It doesn’t stop there, in his mind he believed it is I who is “smitten” and “charmed” by him and he is trying to catch me offguard by calling me with the fake name. In all honesty, i told him its not me and I can report to the cyber crime such impersonator. He then decides to tell me, even if its not you, i developed a liking towards you, come out with me? And this coming from a man you respected once. 

A very similar scenario happened with some other person, again a married man !

All my life i have tried to and been much straight forward and these men think I have such low moral standards. That is fine, because everyone is entitled to their own beliefs. 

But these men, who were supposedly good friends, who have my personal contact, if they had been good friends would have immediately gotten in touch with me..!! But they rather enjoyed what they got from a fake account. Who all are they cheating, their wife, their children, the family or the girl who was thinking your a friend.

I don’t know which is true. Either they are completely lying about impersonation and talking about their wishful thinking or they were happy talking crap to strange impersonators and living in their own bliss

Idhuvum oru vidhamana vakram thaane (isn’t this a sort of perversion in itself) 

I can go on to tell about so many times i have been bullied and harassed both online and offline. There were so many times i lodged complaints to the cyber police and everytime my family was as supportive and as understanding. But that doesn’t stop them from getting paranoid, because “society”. 

I am not talking about me alone, this is about all the women out there who go through this day in and day out, to all those who abhor social media because they dont want to see or hear such humiliation. Dhanya rajendran was victimised, so was chinmayi sripada and so many more ! One cannot and should not say they are in public life, they will get criticisms. These are not criticisms, it is harassment and they don’t just happen to celebrities. 

Mental harassment is real and though we try to turn a blind eye to all this and say, “no i do not care” !! It still hurts ! 

I m not gender biased here. I was bullied by men ! And if some guy is going to come and ask me, “you think men dont get harassed” , my response would be , “i hope you don’t”.

Harassing someone is wrong on a very primal level, be it a man or a woman !

Stop bullying !

Live and let live !

Jai Hind !

P.S : Please bear with non allignment and grammatical errors. My mobile is not as obliging as the laptop

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Gender, Roles and Power

I have been throwing the word ‘patriarchy’ around for a long time. Patriarchy as defined by the dictionary, is a system of society or government in which men hold the power and women are largely excluded from it, this is the dominant ideology. For the most part, one can just say the head of the family is a man. Patriarchy does not really have any borders. Its followed across religions, across the world.

how_it_works

There was an article I had the chance of reading an article, were a Saudi Cleric talk about how the husband can eat their wives if they are ‘severely’ hungry. A friend of mine asked, so what about if the wife is severely hungry, there was a clause, men were the dominant one, women did not have a role, so no – she can’t eat the husband.

This patriarchy doesn’t belong to just Saudi or to any particular religion. It is practiced all over. Each and every day we face it in our homes, our hometowns, around friends, around relatives, in short, around everyone.

So can one say, patriarchy is practiced only by men; NO, women are by and large advocate patriarchy. I can give so many examples of the times I was told men are superior and women are ranked way below. “Don’t point fingers at a GUY and speak”. “Don’t go pick up a fight with MEN”, “Oh, traffic jam,  it must be a WOMAN who is driving” “Don’t get angry, GIRLS can’t get angry” – why not, are we not human enough to get angry or have a fit of rage. “SHE swears, what kind of decent girl swears?” –the one that can’t take your bull shit.

And ofcourse the usual lines the mothers get because “they” have not raised their “daughters” right! Always the mothers.  We are not even going to broach the subject of how virginity is important for men as well.  ZIP.

The kind of things men do, just because they can. That’s what is frustrating. Feminism is not just talking about rape victims and women who are molested. Patriarchy is not just about blaming men and their rights. It is the advantage that they are born with. I have friends say that the juiciest piece in the chicken is reserved for the brother, for the father, not for the little girl; because men need to be healthy. And us? Give the remote to your anna. Let your brother sleep in the bed. Little things, highly trivial, but there is discrimination.

I think every girl at some point of time in her life wished she was a guy, I know I did and where did such thought stem from, the fact that we live in a patriarchal society and all these girls also want to be recognized and respected and given the same kind of freedom as much as their male counterparts.

Things have changed so much than what it was before, but we have a very very long way to go. The glass ceiling is always there. “You will go off in maternity leave, how can you be promoted. You have a husband, how can you think about your career”. No, I am not exaggerating. I have had a very personal experience there. Someone whom I barely knew and I had no choice but to hold a conversation told me how I cannot think about both marriage and a career. If you are a guy, you can. Because MEN are entitled to have ambitions, have a career and also have a wife and throw in a child or two there for the woman to take care of.

A woman must always choose.

 I’ve heard mothers of prospective groom (yes, I am in that pool) say, “my son is very educated, your daughter doesn’t have to work at all “!! But how is that related?

“My son loves Kerala cuisine, can your daughter cook that, even otherwise no problem, I will teach her”. I am happy to learn new things, but that is definitely not a conversation starter. I went to this stand-up comedy, where the guy talks about how in the matrimony his mother seeks for a modern as well as traditional girl. Oxymoron much? Well it is not definitely comedy for those of us who are actually doing that; mine literally reads “orthodox family, traditional girl with a modern outlook” what the hell does that mean? Don’t ask!! Maybe my cynicism has gone up a notch, but, nevertheless the kind of power men wield is real. The fact that we succumb to it till date makes it much worse. We, both men and women are highly influenced by the patriarchy around us, so much so, that we feel maybe that is the rule, that is how it should be.

I had a professor in college who always took the example of Marissa Mayer, the CEO of Yahoo, who returned to work two weeks after her son was born. He said, “What is she trying to show off? Why should she come to work? What is she trying to prove? The baby needs the mother” True, the baby needs the mother. But if she thinks her health is good enough it is her own effing choice to pursue her career. How many men take paternity leave, stay at home and ‘take care of the baby’ after its born. Isn’t child birth equal responsibility?

There was so much rage about Deepika Padukone starrin in a video talking about my choice, one line destroyed the entire crux of the video; and it was all about women making their own choices not someone else making it for them. And by choices, I don’t talk about the women who play the victim card, the pampered, unreasonable women who manipulate the men and wrap themselves in a fake veil of radicalism. I am talking about those women who are denied their rights just because they are women. Those women who lose their life goals and ambitions because they have a family now. Because they are the sacrificial goat. She cannot have a mind of her own, for her husband’s choice are her choice. If she is working, of course she must be capable of taking care of the family and go to work. But she cannot really have a career, because why must a woman need a career, “life” is more important.

I am not going all rogue and saying all men are misogynist. I have seen wonderful men who knew how and when to take a step back, how to be there for their women, give them their space and these men are also feminists.

But, for the most part, the womenfolk follow. Patriarchy is not just the men, its a system and we, both men and women are a part of. And I am also a victim to that system. Maybe because I have grown up and seen a patriarchal society all around me. There were many times I have almost told my nephew, “boys don’t cry”;where did such a thought come from? And I’ve always always corrected myself.

Women need men and vice versa. There are things that only men are capable of doing and there are many things women are equally capable if not more. It is about time WE get acknowledged, we are respected and treated with more equality . It is sometimes OK for men to lose a little control, to be less sexist and to not have staunch gender roles. It is about time men accept their vulnerability and can accept help as much as they love to give. And it is our responsibility to make sure that at no point of time in the future, the little girls must not wish she were a BOY.