Send the right message by calling out creeps on Instagram
A new page on Instagram encourages people to call out creeps on the Internet
Women are no strangers to their inboxes on messaging platforms resembling a trash can. So, we filter through unsolicited 'frandship' requests, sexual advances and downright cyberstalking, and carry on with our daily lives as if nothing happened. "People treat getting creepy messages as a side effect of having an online presence. 'Oh, you post selfies online; of course, you're going to get hit on by random men. If you don't want attention, get off dating apps.' It is almost the online version of 'You wear something revealing; of course, you're going to get catcalled and groped.' This constitutes victim bashing. And I'm not okay with that," Jui Walimbe, a Pune-based advertising professional, asserts.
Last week, the 25-year-old received a vulgar, unwelcome message in response to a picture she posted by a man she knew. Walimbe recalls, "When I got that message, I realised that it's not just strangers who act inappropriately, that this is not something that surprises people anymore, and that it's time to do something."
So, she created a page on Instagram called Ain't Your Object (AYO), where screenshots manifesting such behaviour can be submitted via direct messages. She explains, "People, men, have to be held responsible for their online behaviour as well. This is an attempt to challenge the entitlement, a@#*olery and harassment that is blasted at us under the guise of attention, compliments, or jokes. Women are people, not objects, meant for your fantasies or entertainment. And we will speak up and call you out if you treat us that way."
While popular social media sites continue to dismiss reports of harassment and trolling, a crowd-sourced alternative like AYO emerges as a platform to facilitate collective action. "I'd like people to know, this isn't just a page for women — both genders face harassment, and neither should be objectified or made to feel uncomfortable," Walimbe maintains, adding that companies could look into making inboxes cleaner and safer, either by putting a limit on messages that can be sent to people not in the sender's friend/followers list, or by having only automated messages that can be sent to these people.
"Posting screenshots online might be a small step, but it's a big one for women who've lived their lives thinking it's their stock in life to deal with this crap."
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