“Don’t wear tight clothes, it’s not safe”; “Girls shouldn’t drink alcohol, it’s not right”; “Stop going out late at night, you’ll invite trouble for yourself”. All of us have heard these statements at least once in our lives. Because leave aside morals or ethics, they tell this to us out of ‘concern’. They say this because they can’t control their boys. They tell this because they’ve been conditioned to say so. While we are fighting against the gravest crime women fall prey to, a woman from Delhi has allowed the men around her to rape girls with short clothes because she finds them revealing and inviting.
She has been the center of social media since she did this. Walking past a café, commenting on somebody’s ‘exposing’ outfits and not realizing what effect she has invited for herself. But this is what misogyny has stowed with it since its origin. She alone is not to be blamed; she represented the society that day.
What is more disappointing to notice, is the round the video is doing and the comments this woman is receiving. Harassment is not the answer for harassers. The woman is receiving several obscene comments on the video, about her body, her accent, and her remarks. Feminists or activists can never fulfill their motives by punishing patriarchy. It has to be eradicated, not exploited.
What Lead to The Outrage?
On April 30, a video came out on Instagram by a lady who was asking for this woman’s apology because she had made a statement which said that she should get raped for wearing such short clothes. In the video, a group of friends was seen, and another woman who was at the same shop, supporting this group asked her to apologize to the woman for making these remarks. Towards the end, she again commented with the same ideology and the group was seen making fun of her.
In an interview with The Quint, the women have narrated the story wherein they were in a restaurant and this woman asked these girls rudely to sit next to her. To which one of them thought it is useless to enter into a conversation with her but then the woman asked her if she was comfortable showing off her legs to the men outside.
They laughed to this an ignored her, to which they think she got offended and started saying things like “It’s because of you girls that women get raped”. She turned around and asked the men in the area, “You should rape all three of them.” And “I wish you three get raped right now.”
This is when they felt outraged and decided to confront the woman and ‘give her the test of the medicine.’ They went to her in the store she was present that time and asked her to apologize. They said, “The least you can do is apologize, for what vulgar statements you’ve made.” They recorded an approximate 9 minutes video of the same and uploaded it on Instagram. While they talked to her, a mother of two daughters who was passing by, stood in their favor and bashed the woman for making comments which at least a woman shouldn’t have made.
The group was seen forcing the woman to agree that she did a mistake or they would call the police. In the process, they said things like, “Aunty aapka kurta boht tight hai yaar, mujhe dar lag rha hai koi aapka rape naa karde.”(Aunty, you’re wearing a tight-fitting kurta, I’m afraid you could get raped)
What went wrong?
After everyone saw the video and got ignited with her comments and thoughts, people started commenting on how she should get punished for saying what she said. Someone came to know her name and shared it everywhere, stalked her Facebook profile and took out pictures wherein she was wearing a knee-length dress. People now started questioning her hypocrisy and sent her threatening messages. Thousands of people can be seen commenting about her everywhere, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter about how she looked, body shamed her and bullied her. Meme pages got their content for another year. Yes, she has now been converted into memes. The video started with a cause to fight for but ended up being a cause itself.
Even in the video, there are instances where the woman in support of the friends said, “She has a body to flaunt, she will. You clearly don’t have it so you won’t.” and “Inko bahar lekar chalo, inka kapdo me rape hona chahye.” (Let’s take her outside, she should get raped in clothes).
This is simply putting through a wrong message across the consumers of social media. Whenever there are comments about morals from such people, the idea is to understand where they are coming from and to actively question that thought process while dealing with them. The aggression of the women made her fall into a position where she decided harder not to listen to what they were trying to say. This isn’t to say that the women who spoke against her did something they shouldn’t have. Their immediate outrage was lucid, but how the people on social media took it, was problematic.
Rega Jha, (former head of Buzzfeed India) posted on her Instagram saying she is strongly opposed to public shaming and that she won’t share her video or any screenshots related to this incident. She writes,
“None of us are perfect feminists. And we cannot create a world in which we grow towards shared feminism if the very fact of being behind in learning means you have invited wrath, rather than kind re-education, by those further along.”
SOCIAL MEDIA APOLOGY
A Facebook post in her name contains an apology for her words to the women. In the post, she said she has realized she wasn’t right while commenting on what she did.
We’re glad that the women shared the video so that everyone now understands they are not allowed to make remarks for anyone and everyone they feel they should. It feels empowering to see how other women are standing up in such situations where India was once a place of onlookers and passersby, where nobody was interested in crimes happening in front of them.
Saloni Chopra, a feminist posted on her Instagram about how brave our women are while they are confronting people with a patriarchal mindset. She wrote, “To all those who are saying, ‘kuch nahi badlega’, badal toh raha hai, Ladkiyan badal rhi hain.” (To all those who said nothing will change, things are changing, our women are changing.)
However, the video should have started a much-needed conversation, a conversation about how much conditioned these people are to say things like she said. It became a trend that everyone felt compelled to share without grasping the entirety of it and having another look at how bullied she was while it got recorded. I think we can be angry about her being a bully, without bullying her. We shouldn’t forget that just like we are taught to believe what we believe, she was taught too, just something else.