Social Media Is Catalyzing Change for Women in India

Is social media catalyzing change for women in India? Let’s review the various aspects of how women use social media, and how it affects them.

Social media has made it easier for women to express themselves. Many feminists, writers and other professional, working women who are independent, intelligent and individualistic are carving out a niche for themselves through social media. They are expressing their opinions on everything ranging from movies to literature to politics, promoting their books and their business and also their artworks and their achievements. Women are using social media to celebrate their bodies, their knowledge and their freedom. Feminists are using Facebook, Twitter, blogs and Whatsapp to spread awareness on women’s issues and reach out to other women and even men.

Women are using social media even to build networks and find jobs matching their profession, through sites like LinkedIn. They are building blogs and pages to promote their books, artwork and designs and businesses. They are blogging about food, fashion, books, movies and current trends. They are promoting various causes they believe in, and social movements and initiatives, especially those started by the Indian youth.

Especially feminism has benefited plenty from the scope for publicity and interaction with plenty of people around the world.

Women who were wrongly detained by the police and hurt by teargas, during the massive protests after the Delhi gang-rape in 2012, tweeted and Facebooked their ordeal to the world.

But let us also look at the other side of this trend. Social media is also being used to target women who speak out.

Twitter and Facebook are being used by misogynists and antisocial miscreants to intimidate women who speak out. Let’s take recent examples. Bestselling novelist JK Rowling has been trolled on Twitter for her political views. She was called a ‘slut’ and rape threats were made against her.

She’s not the only one to face these threats. Feminist Kavita Krishnan and actor Shruti Seth were trolled on Twitter after they tweeted about the ‘Beti Bachao Beti Padao’ campaign. They were threatened with rape too.

Feminist writer and columnist Sreemoyee Piu Kundu was threatened with sexual assault on Facebook by male fans of a popular Bollywood actor. So was Sahitya Akademi winning writer Rupa Bajwa.

Feminists are generally threatened with acid attacks and sex crimes on social media. Women, in general, are targeted generally by perverts. They are stalked, bullied and harassed on Facebook and Twitter, by flashers and misogynists. There is no provision to block or report these men on Twitter, and even if you can block them on Facebook, there is no official will to punish cyber criminals in India, even though there are cyber crime laws. Anyone can morph pictures of women and post them on Facebook and porn sites, to defame them.

Cyber stalking and bullying has added another dimension to gender violence. As if eve-teasing, groping, lewd stares and gestures, physical stalking, lewd phone calls molestation and rape, female feticide and infanticide weren’t enough, now cyber-bullying is a way perverted men have found to torture women who don’t walk the patriarchal line like they are supposed to. Social media is also becoming a medium for such criminals to spread subversive images, videos and literature which degrade and devalue women. And the law in India is impotent to contain such people and redress women’s grievances.

But there is another dimension to this subversion- one which women are kind of responsible for themselves.

Ever since the selfie craze caught on, girls and women have been posting pictures of themselves on Snapchat, Instagram and Facebook. Such pictures do make them vulnerable to further sexual harassment. Excessive selfies have been said to be an indication of narcissistic personality disorders. Plus, women, like others, post exact locations of where they are, which may compromise their security.

So, to sum up, social media has done wonders for women and their freedom and liberty, and their causes. But there must be tougher implementation of cyber laws to protect women from cyber bullies and perverts. Women must also learn to use social media more productively, to engage in more relevant issues of the day, rather than self-aggrandizement.

Article by -Prachi Sharma /