Are we perpetuating patriarchal stereotypes into the online space?
In India, as elsewhere all over the world, the online harassment of women and marginalized genders and sexualities is rampant, in contrast to the Internet’s initial premise of equal opportunity and neutrality. What we have today is a flawed internet that reflects the offline world we live in, where women and marginalized communities are abused, harassed, threatened, stalked and violated on a daily basis.
Social media is a double-edged sword. If it gives you a space to express yourself, it also creates space for people to respond violently to your thoughts. If it gives you anonymity, it also gives abusers anonymity. Women in India have seen both edges of this sword. Online harassment against women has become as common as street harassment in the offline world. Online harassment also includes cyberstalking that undermines women’s online and offline security. Misogynists and Right-wing nationalists often respond to online content from women with contemptuous threats and sexist verbal abuse. In response, dismissive authorities feign concern by advising women to refrain from using their real names or posting pictures of themselves. Thus, the task of internet safety often wrongfully falls on victims rather than abusers, policy makers, governments and corporations.