From Priyanka Chopra to Dhinchak Pooja: How these women hit back at trolls

Jun 17, 2017, 16:00 IST | Heli Shukla

Indian women are no strangers to misogyny; they continue to grapple with its hateful offshoots in real life and aren't spared on the world wide web either


Indian women are no strangers to misogyny; they continue to grapple with its hateful offshoots in real life and aren't spared on the world wide web either, where having an opinion as a female invites ceaseless, often sexual trolling - mostly from men. Two recent targets have been actors Priyanka Chopra and Fatima Sana Shaikh. While Chopra was informed she mustn't put her legs on display while meeting the PM, Shaikh was trolled for posing in a monokini during the holy month of Ramzan. Such instances aren't isolated. mid-day deconstructs the web of online misogyny.

Fatima Sana Shaikh
Trolled for: Posting a photo where she's wearing a bathing suit on Instagram
Trollspeak: 'I myself loved fatima in dangal but this kind of post in Ramadan was not expected from actress like her'
'Fatima shame on u at least u could have think of Ramadan' (sic)
Her response
Fatima uploaded several other pictures on Instagram later, but none in response to the comments she'd received. She did not respond to mid-day's requests for a comment.

Gurmehar Kaur
Trolled for: The daughter of a Kargil hero was turned into a meme for advocating against war with Pakistan. She was also trolled for supporting a campaign against ABVP's alleged violence in DU.
Trollspeak: Memes were made out of her campaign for peace with celebrities like cricketer Virender Sehwag and actor Randeep Hooda joining the brigade.
Her response
Kaur told mid-day, "When the trolling was at its peak, I stopped looking at things on the Internet. I think once you understand that it's not personal hatred, but propaganda, you don't really look at it the same way. There is definitely need for better cyber laws, especially when it comes to trolling. Hate comments need to be looked into with urgency."

Priyanka Chopra
Trolled for: Wearing a dress while meeting Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Germany.
Trollspeak: "Good you met PM in Berlin, but could have worn a respectable costume. Hope he was not interested in your dirty legs?
"Wear proper dress. Mean full body covered. When you are meeting PM of India." (sic)
Her response
A photo on Insta with mother Madhu Chopra, both of them baring their pins.

Rana Ayyub
Trolled for: For her investigative journalism, which includes a book on the 2002 Gujarat riots, and for calling out Randeep Hooda and Virender Sehwag for trolling Gurmehar Kaur.
Trollspeak: "ISIS wud want her... for PR... (sex slaves, they have Indian-Pak moslem boys as)"
"Hi b*tch. Spread ur legs.
Filthy s**t." (sic)
Her response
Ayyub told mid-day, "The government should treat it as a criminal case. If our laws for molestation are so strong, why isn't a person who is baring his identity and issuing rape threats not taken seriously? Twitter and Facebook also have to do a very stringent check on what passes off as critique and what passes off as molestation."

Dhinchak Pooja
Trolled for: Her cringe pop songs 'Selfie maine le li aaj', 'Daaru Daaru' and 'Swag Wali Topi'
Trollspeak: "Tujhe Delhi mein nanga karke selfie lunga...gana bandh kar" (sic)
Her response
Pooja told mid-day, "I don't read the negative comments, because I don't want them to affect me."

When online misogyny gets Dangerous
Gamergate: This 'movement' was started in 2014 by gamers to bring 'ethics' into games journalism. It all began with video game developer Zoe Quinn's (in pic) game Depression Quest, which divided the community; a lot of gaming critics liked it, but several male gamers didn't get on board. After her game became popular, Quinn's ex-boyfriend claimed she was cheating on him with five other men, one of whom is a journalist with a gaming site, to progress in her career. Quinn was then made a concentrated target of an online hate campaign, with rape and death threats being thrown at her, so much so that she was forced to leave her home and crash on friends' couches. Later, Gamergate targeted feminist critic and writer Anita Sarkeesian, who was also forced to leave her home on account of threats. The next target was gaming developer Brianna Wu, who was harassed because she tweeted against Gamergate, and was driven out of her home, too.

What is misogyny?
Oxford Dictionary defines misogyny as 'Dislike of, contempt for, or ingrained prejudice against women.' It originated in the mid 17th century: from Greek misos 'hatred' + gun 'woman'.

How are governments tackling online abuse?
>> In India, anti-cyber harassment laws are broadly covered under the Information Technology Act, 2000 and the Indian Penal Code. 

>> The US has federal cyber-stalking laws since 2011, through which people using online tools for harassment can be prosecuted.

>> In July 2016, UK MP Maria Miller called for a levy on social media companies to pay for policing online abuse if they don't do enough to tackle the crimes.

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