The internet is full of “trigger” memes that mock the progressing sensitisation of the masses as a fad for “overly touchy liberal hipsters”. The problem is, that it’s all fun and games until you stare into the abyss long enough for it to stare back at you. Then, there’s no going back. You end up choking a little when your friends are laughing at some offensive joke and you just can’t help feeling helpless.
So much of our daily interactions are a reflection of the popular culture we consume through the internet, TV and cinema. So much of this media is also responsible for the way we think, the way we live and the way we treat each other. Little do we acknowledge how the most minuscule choices that we make in our day to day lives are manufactured by the media. The internet has been one of the biggest drivers for movements like the feminist movement and the lGBTQ movement because of the ease with which voices could be collected over the internet. It helps reaching to out those seeking similar minded people all over the world, which not just encourages activism, but also provides a platform for these voices to be heard. However, it’s never as rosy a path as it seems. Once a movement catches on, the internet is filled up with multiple narratives and counter narratives, which is a great healthy way for discourse, but also for the asymmetry of information that creeps in. The consumer of information, be it a news reader with a particular political inclination or a “meninist” meme enthusiast, would mostly be exposed to media (News pieces from preferred online magazines or memes from liked facebook pages) that conform to his/her biases. So it restricts the discourse for the consumer where they only reflect upon half-baked and opinionated information that in turn leads him to form a biased opinion themself.
Those who firmly express their contempt for feminism often are confused or misinformed about the cause itself. It’s often hard to explain to such a person the vision of the movement because of the plethora of interpretations floating that often lead to dilution of concrete definitions. This discrepancy creates a vacuum which is filled in by mockery propagated through comfortably consumable media in form of jokes and memes. This leads individuals internalising this mockery to an extent that we almost end up ignoring them in real life. For example, we all condemn sexism and racism but do end up laughing at sexist/racist jokes ( guilty as charged). But what do you do when you start becoming actively aware of ways in which misogyny is perpetrated?
I just took one course of ‘Gender & Women In Bollywood Cinema’ this semester and it’s almost inevitable to ignore how the shackles of patriarchy still clutch on to us, including the most modern, liberal thinkers of our society (or so they say). How do you start asserting your cause onto those you consider the closest to you all of a sudden, just because you had a series of revelations? How do you make them understand that you standing up against their misogynist comments does not make you “a crazy bitch” who is “probably on her period”? It just makes you assertive. I’ve always been a submissive person who doesn’t really know how to assert herself. But I realize how I have a responsibility to stand up for my ideals and my identity because I’m a part of a bigger battle. I realize that it’s my responsibility to do so because I have the privilege and the agency unlike the millions of oppressed women of my country who aren’t even aware of their basic rights. I realize that I must do it for my sisters who can only wish for a better change and I must do it for my brothers who battle the gender norms that society imposes on them everyday. I must do it for all of us.