A video had been circulating on social media platforms, in which a few young girls were demanding a middle-aged woman to apologies to them for her indecent remarks. The woman, pointing at a girl’s attire, allegedly said, “She should be raped on account of her ‘indecent’ clothes as such ‘indecent’ clothing induces men to rape”. Downright disgusting, truly!
While the comments made by the woman are indeed awful, there was so much in this video that kept me agitated. Firstly, how can a woman say such horrible things to girls who looked her daughter’s age, or to women in general? Secondly, why didn’t she apologies, even when another lady tried to intervene? Thirdly, how should I react to the body-shaming of this middle-aged woman, considering that the other lady said, “The girl has a body to flaunt, you don’t have it.” Towards the end, one of the girls even said to the woman, “You are jealous”. Lastly, I saw people sharing this video in numbers, some saying “Let’s make this woman popular” by which they meant “infamous” and “Let’s give this woman unwanted internet fame” etc.
This isn’t for the first time that a person has been trolled for blatant racist, sexist and prejudiced statements; our lives are now interspersed with such viral content on a very regular basis now. I was immediately reminded of how sometime back a young lady brought forth a list of professors calling them “sexual predators” without providing any legal or proven records. Even though her list had no legal truth in it, yet somehow she was able to arouse a latent feeling of suppression, and legitimize her claim which garnered a huge reach.
We must understand that while the distrust with established laws in delivering justice is there, we must greatly be aware that populist reactions are never a guarantee to radical or even significant changes. In the case of Soma Chakraborty, the impulse of women liberation and a populist impulse in the culture of our country united together.
Even though the young girls had threatened Soma with the police (the established law), they seemed more resolute on putting her on social media (choosing a populist, cyber-shaming alternative). Now the sense is, of course, that injustice was done to these girls, for they were attacked with such abominable words, but what is it that we should call justice in this case?
Normally, justice is understood in the sense of revenge, also called “retributive justice” in which an adequate punishment is given to the offender, which in this case could have resulted in a police case under IPC Section 294– Punishment for obscene acts and words in public, or any other appropriate section, adhering to IPC.
I fail to understand how can we choose to disparage the body-shaming that Soma was subjected to, in the same video? Is body shaming in itself not a terrible counter to her sexist outlook? Is body-shaming not as big an issue as a woman’s dignity? Isn’t body-shaming Soma, a reflection of how a woman’s body is expected to be moulded as a marketable and flaunt-able commodity?
Suppose, the girls would have called the police and lodged an FIR against her or had a fine should been +-levied upon her, wouldn’t that have been a better way of shutting Soma’s sexist outlook up? Can the self-contradictory grounds, in the video help us sensitize our gender outlook?
What exactly determines our judgment of viral content? Can this incident be called a form of cyber-lynching, where solution is sought by bypassing the law and where both the parties escape the procedures of law? Will such viral videos help us become more disciplined and gender-sensitive? Who has the authority to set or prioritize the narratives? These questions give rise to too many questions in the mind. The answers to which are as usual incomplete, or ignored or left for another incident to happen!
Author Bio :Rumy Ghosh, writes stories and prose based on emotions and complexities involving them. She feels all the great decisions and great beginning are result of emotions.
NOTE: According to the writer “I wrote this article, on the context of the recent incident of a Delhi middle aged woman passing indecent comments at a girl. My counter opinion is about the body shaming the lady has to face by the girls, and was this justified !. These are just my view points.”