When it comes to bringing a cultural, societal change, social media plays a major role. After all, India continues to be a democracy and freedom of speech is alive, at least on paper - literally and metaphorically. The past week saw women on social media speak up about the multitude of problems India is facing today, and their take on misogynistic and divisive tendencies.
On Saturday, Mukhesh Khanna - who played the character of Shaktimaan in the children’s television serial of the same name in the late 1990s - was trending on Twitter, for a horrible comment he made on women’s safety and position in the society. Activist Rita Banerji was among the many who retorted without mincing words:
There has been little or no #MeToo in Bollywood or the TV industry, so what's getting this actor so agitated? And given that men who rape, beat, and kill women outside, start w/women at home first, I hope Indian women will start a #MeTooAtHome movement. Can you imagine that?
— Rita Banerji (@Rita_Banerji) October 31, 2020
Stressing the need for all of us to be more empathetic to our fellow human beings in these difficult times, journalist Rana Ayyub had tweeted:
Somebody I knew died by suicide last evening. The world is not an easy place, it was never meant to be. So many of us fighting battles that we conceal from the world. The least we can do is to be kind to others, empathy goes a long way, humanity goes a long way. Please !
— Rana Ayyub (@RanaAyyub) October 28, 2020
Incidentally, empathy for sex workers was one issue that made anti-trafficking activist Sunita Krishnan make this statement:
I was speaking to a journalist abt harm & risks of prostitution &she asks me 'what about a soldier's life? I wanted to tell her,go to border stand there for a day defending ur country &then go voluntarily to brothel & sell ur sexual services to 10 strange men &know the difference
— sunitha krishnan (@sunita_krishnan) October 26, 2020
Over the past few weeks, conversations on Dalit rights have been gaining momentum in the online and offline world. Lawyer Nikita Sonavane’s tweet was a reminder of the Dalit realities which mainstream society often turns a blind eye to:
As a Dalit student, a major challenge while applying for internships was talking oneself into applying because one never felt "meritorious" enough.
As we open internship applications for @CPAProjectIndia, I hope DBAV students find it in themselves to submit that application..
— Nikita Sonavane (@glorious_gluten) October 26, 2020
Interestingly, author and activist Meena Kandasamy also called out the casteist and misogynistic elements in the Hindu scripture of Manusmriti - after Tamil Nadu politician Thirumavalavan created controversy by making anti-women statements based on the scripture:
Many who are not Tamil but here are on my TL are wondering what the whole brouhaha about the Manusmriti is, so I decided to share the joy and read out sections that are offensive to women. Viewer discretion is strongly advised. 🤣Enjoy https://t.co/jbSfkfrmCg
— meena kandasamy || இளவேனில் (@meenakandasamy) October 29, 2020
The violence by Islamic extremists in France last week had created a storm across the world, which unfortunately led to Islamophobic comments on social media as well. Journalist Saba Naqvi had a no-nonsense stand on the issue:
No point in going round in circles. What happened in France is gruesome and against any law of humanity and religion. That it’s done in the name of faith puts Muslims across the world in a sad place today.
— Saba Naqvi (@_sabanaqvi) October 30, 2020
Challenging gender stereotypes during the ongoing lockdown due to the Coronavirus pandemic, Nishtha Satyam, Deputy Country Representative at UN Women, made a significant observation:
Housework is still considered women’s work, especially for women living with men.
On average, women spend 2.3 hours a day on house tasks, & men spend 1.4 hours.
This needs to change.#DefyingGenderStereotypes @UN_Women pic.twitter.com/9XUEruYbVY
— Nishtha Satyam (@SatyamNishtha) October 28, 2020
The other topic of discussion related to Coronavirus in India over the past few days was on the Aarogya Setu app by the union government. Comedian Aditi Mittal, in her signature style, made a sarcastic, thought-provoking comment on the same:
I downloaded Aarogya Setu app and now I'm immune to Covid.
— out of context aditi mittal (@awryaditi) October 28, 2020
On a more serious note, Kamala Harris, the Indian-origin Vice Presidential candidate in the US, reminded netizens of the significance of government transparency to fight this deadly virus:
When @JoeBiden and I are in the White House, we’ll listen to the experts when it comes to public health, create a pandemic board that oversees testing, and make COVID-19 testing, treatment, and vaccines free for all Americans.
— Kamala Harris (@KamalaHarris) October 31, 2020
In the next few days, the US election results will be announced, and surely, social media is bound to be flooded with its impact as American elections have an undeniable impact on the rest of the world too. MAKERS India will bring you the best and worst of social media next weekend too. Till then, take care.