Saturday, August 17, 2013

Sexist Venom On The Web

Picture Courtesy Youtube.

Spare a moment for the insight of writer, Bertolt Brecht. “The human race tends to remember the abuses to which it has been subjected rather than the endearments. What's left of kisses? Wounds, however, leave scars,” he wrote.

The latest arena for abusive punches and sexist remarks is the cyber space. The web becomes even more precarious, when it provides a platform to shout the loudest without any accountability. Unfortunately, this abusive crowd comprises of so called educated and privileged netizens.

The trigger for this article is the recent YouTube Video of NDTV anchor, Nidhi Razdan interviewing British MP Barry Gardiner that went viral. It was shared among friends on Facebook. 

Nidhi Razdan asked Mr. Gardiner to elucidate reasons for his invitation to a ‘controversial figure’ like Mr. Narendra Modi for addressing the British Parliament. The continuous harping on the word ‘controversial’ by the anchor appeared biased to many viewers. In his defense, Mr. Gardiner stressed on the need to respect the Indian Supreme Court verdict.

Needless to say, I did not agree with both – neither the biased views of the anchor, nor the didactic narrative of the British MP. As a result, I proceeded to express my views on the link. I was aghast to read the comments there. Netizens took this opportunity to hurl sexist comments and choicest abuses at the anchor.

Why can’t we agree to disagree without demeaning women?

One commentator said that ‘the bi*ch should eat her own sh*t’. Someone said ‘she should die of AIDS’. Another questioned how a pathetic wh**e became a journalist. The rest of the comments were so derogatory and filthy that they cannot be a part of any civilized discussion.

As it happens, we often disagree with the views expressed by anchors and journalists. Arnab Goswami and Rajdeep Sardesai, elicit strong responses from viewers on websites, but the response is devoid of sexist connotations. All the sexual contempt against Nidhi has never been matched by words on male news anchors.

I am not sure if Nidhi Razdan is cognizant of the sexist comments made on the web, but as a woman, I am perturbed by abusive voices. No matter what I express about politics, the ‘reservation policy’ in education, or on religion, a section of readers is bound to feel offended. Dissent is acceptable but abuse is not. No woman deserves to be called a wh**e on the basis of her opinion or political views.

Unfortunately, this cacophony of freedom of expression is pandemic. It is a worldwide phenomenon. Who can forget John Inverdale’s insensitive comment on French woman Marion Bartoli who won the 2013 women’s Wimbledon title? “Do you think,” said the Radio 5 Live Presenter, “Bartoli’s dad told her when she was little, ‘you are never going to be a looker, you’ll never be a Sharapova, so you have to be scrappy and fight?”

According to this leading commentator, Bartoli was not pretty enough for her dad and the entire world. While the BBC apologized later owing to huge Twitter outrage, the twitter troll on the Marion Bartoli’s win was far worse than Inverdale’s sexist comment. A blogger said, ‘Marion Bartoli was too ugly to rape. The fat slob didn’t deserve to win because she is ugly’. Another said ‘the ugly bitch needs a b**b job’. I am not quoting other comments which were far worse, derogatory, sexist and unwarranted. Again, all the contempt against Bartoli was isolated and not matched by comments on Andy Murray’s physical attributes.

Abusive slanging matches on twitter, blogs, and chat rooms are signs of an ailing society. The acerbic voices on social media are becoming the judge, jury and the executioner and are experiencing moments of collective catharsis on the web. Sadly, sexist remarks are becoming a part of communication used by the educated class who don’t even realize how offensive this venom is. Which is a pity, because abuse is not the weapon of the civilized.



Read the entire article originally on The Hoot



43 comments:

  1. Yes.. Abusive slanging language is a sign of an ailing society.. And no one has the right to speak this language to a woman just based on her political opinion.. I was shocked to see so many comments on fb on her.. Wish if they put that much time and energy to do a noble cause, The world would have been a different place to live all together.. Nice post.. Keep writing..!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Priya, thank you for understanding what I was trying to say. Sadly the original article has comments from readers who think I am supporting the anchor's biased views, even though I have clearly mentioned that I did not agree with the way she was conducting the interview. However that does not give me a right to say that she is a wh@re.

      Delete
  2. Alka Ma'am, I have always believed that abusive language can never be a weapon for anything. A person who resorts to abusive language confirms the fact that he or she has nothing to back his or her views.

    As for the example you mentioned above, it shows how we as a society behave towards females in general. And obviously, those who abuse on various articles online cannot be illiterate people. But they surely cannot be called educated or even civilized too. I guess these are the people who fake their character in public life but show their true colors once they are hidden by a relatively anonymous existence online.

    On a different note, one shudders to imagine the sort of politicians we have if people with a mindset like this are the ones backing them.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Shobhit. What irks me is that people are commenting on the original article without reading my entire piece. It is scary. Some readers are not willing to read the entire article but they are too eager to comment.
      Nowhere in the article have I endorsed the anchors comment.When we do not agree with Arnab or Rajdeep do we comment on their sexuality? Do we say they should die of AIDS? No. Disagree but don't abuse.
      Educated people resorting to sexist attacks is sad.

      Delete
  3. The ethics of language are sure in free fall with the cuss words coming out like poetry from all and sundry. But it isn't just Nidhi or her female contemporaries who have to face such grinders (albeit they might not be aware of that, but if they are not, they aren't journalists, right? Without reprimanding them with highly cuss decorated language.). Arnab Goswami or Rajdeep, or Barkha Dutt, or anyone who decides to take a side is bound to receive recoil from the father end and even males are not spared those words, though we seem to omit those comments from our judgement because that is how males are. Everyone has a right to air their opinion, though some overuse this freedom to over-express their point (which is often myopic) by extravagant demonstration of their fetishes and it is incorrigibly wrong.
    This brings me to another point, people seem to attack the person, but they aren't actually attacking the person, but the position; partly because those people are not capable enough to reach such stature and partly because they believe that shouting out loud can silence valid points. So, it is up to these journalists to take these remarks personally and feel offended, or leave such remarks inside the office corridors.


    Regards,
    Blasphemous Aesthete

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Welcome back after a long hiatus. I was missing your intellectual presence.

      Expressing dissent and disagreement is a sign of a vibrant healthy democracy. I logged on the site only to express my disgust against the biased opinions of the anchor but the comments there made me very uncomfortable. Yes, journos need to have a thick skin. Whatever I say about religion, reservation policy, or certain politicians, some people are bound to get offended. But that does not give anyone the right to abuse me. When we disagree with Arnab or Rajdeep do we comment on their sexuality? Do we say they should die of AIDS or grow boobs? No. Disagree but don't abuse.

      Delete
  4. Very well put Alka Ma'am...."Abuse is not the weapon of the civilized."

    The plight is that language with the so called abusive elements is now a fashion. Educated civilized are more affecting in totality...This further gets completely ruined moving towards politics and politicians...

    ReplyDelete
  5. I wouldn't take the comments so seriously! It's just a ploy for attention and what better weapon than hate?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hate is fine Purba but why say 'Nidhi should die of AIDS, or that she a keep of so and so?' The sexual contempt against women is not matched by words against men.
      It bothers me as a writer.

      Delete
  6. Misogyny is a disease that seems to have no cure. It is so deeply ingrained within the psyche of our society that it's impossible to drive it away so soon.
    I am no fan of the NDTV anchors but the kind of hate and abuse they receive on twitter on a daily basis is unnerving. I wonder how they deal with it at times.
    Insightful post as ever, Alka.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for appreciating my concerns Samadrita.

      Delete
  7. sexist remarks are becoming a part of communication used by the educated class who don’t even realize how offensive this venom is

    I guess therein lies the problem. Many social do gooders like to blame people like Sonia Gandhi, Mayawati, Mamta for the some of the nations problems. At such time, they don't realize the derogatory language sometimes they use just to put across their points. Sometimes, some new words or punch lines may even be coined thinking its humourous. It may not always be sexist like name callings is done for most political figures. Even that is not a good practice. I think, as a nation, we still are far behind where online forums maturity is concerned.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Glad you appreciate and echo my concerns Ramakant.

      Delete
  8. I think the commenters have nothing of consequence to say and are looking for attention. Most times, it is unfortunate, but the female has been the target of abuse. Even when a person has a problem with another man, it is the poor man's brother or sister who are the targets of abuse.

    ReplyDelete
  9. This kind of sexist remarks are never justified. Period.
    Actually, I was also perturbed at folks who seemed downright angry at the journalist's prickly line of questioning. Should the complete volte-face by a government on its policy of not inviting Narendra Modi to their country not invite such needling questioning? Has this British MP never been interviewed by British TV's Hard Talk or Panorama??
    Remember, Nidhi Razdan is one of the sanest panel moderators on TV! There is no hysterical shouting on her TV show...at least the ones I have seen.
    How thinskinned are we getting in this country?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think she overstepped a bit that day, but even if she is wrong, why label her as a who*e?

      Delete
  10. Freedom of speech and anonymity is a two way street.
    Abusing a woman for her opinion shows how oppressive Indian male society still is. Everyone has their own political views and judging them by their gender is the new low.

    ReplyDelete
  11. While I had been enraged by the comments on Bartoli, I honestly had Not been aware of this incident and its reaction online. I honestly want to ask you - do you not feel we have regressed a lot over the last decade? Were we not more open-minded? Here, everyone just jumps up at the chance to pick up a fight. More tragically, slowly and steadily, the ministers and el-Khap Panchayat level imbeciles are slowly once more doing their subtle ( and not so subtle ) best to 'show women their aukad'. And noone is standing up for it!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Roshan, whats worrying is that the educated class is indulging in abuse. While I understand the anger against the sorry state of affairs, venom against successful women is disgusting. Is this how we want our kids to talk to anyone, be it a man or a woman? Since people are accepting it, it is getting worse by the day.

      Delete
  12. Bad language is unacceptable on any forum, Alka. It's even worse when men think that they can use it against women.
    Isn't it true that when a women does well politically or professionally, it's often attributed to her links, romantic or otherwise, with powerful men? In other words, we're not supposed to succeed or have an opinion according to many men in India.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Be it Shobha De, Nidhi or Bartoli, there is deep seated bias against successful women. It seems as if people are waiting to pounce armed with choicest abuses.

      Delete
  13. I agree with your point that resorting to abusive sexist remarks is strictly unacceptable. It indicates poverty of thought and pathological state of mind.

    But i happen to disagree with the notion that there's a bias against women. Cultivating such notion's would do us no good. Just like we hate polarisation based on religion, we should avoid polarisation based on sex. There should be no place for chauvinism or feminism. Only then we will truly rise.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This is not about feminism. In fact, abuse against men or women based on their sexuality or personal lives is equally deplorable. Disagree but don't abuse.

      I agree that we should not indulge in polarizing society based on gender,but how else do we explain what Marion Bartoli had to face after winning Wimbledon.

      Here is a link:
      http://www.thefword.org.uk/blog/2013/07/marion_bartoli_

      Delete
    2. Dr. Pushkar, Thank so much for spending time and expressing your valuable views. Means a lot.

      Delete
    3. I did not intend to say that your views are feminist, my only point was that we should promote and focus more on gender neutrality.

      I appreciate that we are on the same page. Thank you.

      Delete
  14. It is not just this one incident Alka but if you see other political articles as well, the comments generally turn into ugly Hindu Muslim fights. It is painful to read all that. And how can we forget all those nasty comments on reports of rape. I don't understand such acrimony. Is it anonimity that brings out the beast in us?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sadly some readers think this is a feminist rant while others think this is about Nidhi vs Modi.

      I am simply raising my voice against personal abuse which plumbs new depths where women are concerned.
      Thank you for echoing my thoughts.

      Delete
  15. Very pertinent post ! Even I have witnessed deeply derogatory comments wherever the target is a woman. It is no way about disagreeing in a civil manner instead the amount of hatred and sexist comments spewed out makes me cringe. It somehow smacks of echoing the same sentiments of a rape..only that its a verbal rape. Whenever people don't have any strong arguments to make while disagreeing, their voices are the shrillest and vilest.When its against a woman, it almost always becomes sexual.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you for reading and appreciating.

      Delete
  16. Words are extremely powerful capable of inflicting unfixable injuries...I feel we live in a world where abusing is considered fashionable and the world we live in is just never safe for women - physically, there is rape but even verbally, we are never spared...

    ReplyDelete
  17. Everyone has an opinion and everyone has the right to express them. But why use abusive language? I really don't get it many times. I think because people have this urge to cuss and they will be slapped with a chappal if they cuss just any other person. So, in order to control the itch of their tongue, they got viral on the net. I have noticed even for many devotional songs uploaded in you tube or any pleasant melody, people go into a cuss fight...sucks big time..

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I didn't find any feminist views in this post..I wonder, would they react the same way for a male anchor too?I am surprised :)

      Delete
    2. I was on my phone and deleted my comment by mistake. Some readers fail to read the entire post, but jump in to comment. I guess, the article is pretty explicit in what I am trying to say. Disagree, protest, be angry but don't abuse is what I am saying.
      Thanks for understanding.

      Delete
  18. When people are foul mouthed it is because they don't know how to agree to disagree nor to tell us why they do. Agreeing to disagree requires civility, logic and reasoning.

    And Alka, congratulations on your win :-).

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks KayEm.If you are on Facebook please add me.

      Delete
  19. I wouldn't take the comments so seriously! It's just a ploy for attention and what better weapon than hate?

    ReplyDelete
  20. It shows how sick we have become and condemn the vulgar language used against Nidhi who was doing her job.Ok, fine, disagree with her but why abuse. Even social media guru Mahesh Murthy resorted to abuse when he said Delhi rape of Nidhi Razdan. This is simply unacceptable. Is it because she is a woman? Netizens should be ashamed of using such words. I wrote about it on my blog vishalbheeroo.wordpress.com

    ReplyDelete
  21. I think those who abuse women on the net have sick minds,they have been frustrated & failed to earn love or respect from any woman;hence the venom.

    ReplyDelete