As a feminist who is pretty vocal about, well, being a feminist, you learn to deal with a lot of shit. Part of that is cyber harassment. So, a while back after I’d written a piece around menstruation, when I was scrolling through Twitter and got notified that someone DM-ed me, I was prepared – rather, I was expecting – the worst. When I opened the message, I wasn’t all too surprised. Yet another day, yet another internet troll.
I will add a content warning for people who may find the mention of rape triggering. Because this one troll kinda went all in. So please do proceed with caution.
So, this person with the Twitter name, “Kill all white ppl” (um, okay) sent me a series of messages.
He started off by getting right to the point.
Lesson number one: If my DMs are open so that people can reach out to me, it’s definitely me asking to be called a slut. Only sluts enable direct messaging. That celebrity you want to DM telling them you love them? Slut. Do you leave your DMs open, too? If yes, then welcome to the slut club.
I mean I did used to think it’s a nice way to communicate with people, find stories, and just generally have healthy discussions online. Little did I know, I was being a hoe.
Next, he proceeded to wish me the absolute best he had to offer
Taliban beheadings, gaalis, beizati – the works, you know? REALLY getting in there.
Lesson number two: Judging by the
egg’s dude’s kaafi achi grammar and punctuation, I realized that seemingly educated individuals aren’t above internet trolling. While most of us tend to think that people who don’t understand all the new -isms that have been popping up attack people on the internet, it was interesting to note that seemingly well-informed individuals can be internet trolls as well.
It says a lot though. It really breaks through that concept of feminism only appealing to a certain group in society. We think that because someone is educated and has the means to get the information they need regarding feminism, they’ll understand the movement.
But alas, education and common don’t necessarily go hand-in-hand.
Anyway, the troll then went on to impart some pearls of wisdom.
Lesson number three: my existence was somehow a linchpin for an entire racial war. And somehow, my emotions and my monthly cycle too, for some reason, were fucking up our chances of winning this war.
Also, no one gives a fuck about my monthly cycle. Somehow, I’m relieved. I don’t want random people poking their nose into my personal business…
Moving on, the rant was shifted out of my DMs to khulla public tweets
Who is my White master? Is he paying me? Why am I sucking his dick without even knowing that I am? What is going on?
The conversation then moved back into my DMs.
(Spoiler: He didn’t follow through and I lived.)
I’d forgotten about this until earlier this week when something similar happened. I was trying to strike up a conversation on an online discussion forum. Nothing too controversial either. Just talking to university students about grades, graduation and the like. That’s when I was showered with a bevy of affection yet again.
The name was different this time around. “Skillset.” Okay. Well, Skillset had some nice things to say, too.
So, I’m worthless, dirty, but still bangable? Okay, okay. Kinda confused, not gonna lie.
Reasons for hating me were listed (though I really don’t remember asking for them)
Sounds like an incel, tbh.
I was given a heads up, too
Okay, Ted Bundy. Calm down. But seriously, do I have a very kill-able face? What is it about me that makes people want to kill me. Matlab, no hi hello. Seedha murder.
Now, I promise this isn’t a rant. I fully understand that a huge part of being online is dealing with people who sit behind their screens that double as masks, allowing them to get away with saying things they normally would not.
However, I was made to see that though this may seem like a trivial matter to me, it may actually be what pushes someone else on the receiving end of this off the edge. I was rightfully made to see that this wasn’t about me. There was a much larger issue at hand.
In 2015, the Pakistan Federal Investigation Agency received more than 3000 reports of cyber crime in the form of cyber harassment. 3000 cases.
Let’s keep in mind the fact that countless other cases may not have been reported at all. Undoubtedly, easy access to the Internet means that more and more perverse assholes join social media platforms, preying on individuals to harass – just to get a kick out of it.
The fear of being judged, isolated and blamed in cases like these stops the victims in our society from speaking up about it as well. I, personally, was told by many that I shouldn’t have left my DMs open. Many advised me to reduce my online activities as well. However, none of these are actual solutions. So – what exactly should victims of cyber harassment do? Should they have to grin and bear this form of mental torture?
Well, there’s actually a genuinely helpful way to go about handling such a situation: contacting Digital Rights Foundation
Established primarily to combat cases of cyber harassment, Nighat Dad – activist and lawyer – and her team set up the organization. Digital Rights Foundation’s hotline is functional from 9 a.m to 5 p.m, Monday to Friday, for those in distress. Additionally, they can be contacted through their e-mail address and through Facebook as well.
The staff at Digital Rights Foundation emphasizes on how cases of cyber harassment should be taken more seriously.
The hotline was set up to be a source of aid for all those who felt they had no one to turn to. The team at Digital Rights Foundation offers psychological counseling and legal advice as well. At a time when cases of online harassment are increasing, it should not be a pipe dream to hope for some form of accountability and justice.
No one should be made to feel on edge and uncomfortable within the confines of their houses (or anywhere, for that matter.) If you happen to be a victim of cyber bullying of any kind, do not hesitate to give the helpline a call. Perhaps, in doing so, you help put away someone whose words could one day translate into actions and prove to be fatal for the victim.
Cover image via blogs.worldbank.org