#AuntyjiApologise: Combating misogyny with misogyny is not feminism

The recent viral video and the ensuing response is a great allegory for the various levels at which patriarchy plagues Indian society.

WrittenBy:Ruchika Sharma
Article image

From rape jokes to constant victim blaming, rape culture is endemic to India. Recently, the deleterious effects of such a culture were brought to light in a viral video where a middle-aged woman, now identified as Soma Chakrabarty, can be seen clearly enunciating the idea that the victim’s clothes invite rape. The girl who shared this video wrote in her post that Chakrabarty “addressed seven men at the restaurant to rape us because she felt we deserved it for wearing short clothes…” Not only does the video expose India’s rampant misogyny, it also sets a bold precedent for women to speak up against victim blaming and defend their choices.

Several women in the video can be seen making cogent arguments to counter Chakrabarty. This is a welcome act and hopefully, more women would feel emboldened to stand up against harassment. Yet, there is a case to be made on the highly patriarchal and irresponsible manner in which the takedown of Chakrabarty’s views was conducted which, in many instances, was based on misogynistic tropes and furthered rape. Moreover, encouraged by the anonymity offered by social media, Chakrabarty and her family were hounded and abused for several hours before she allegedly apologised, asking everyone to “stop this”.

Starting out as a refreshing resistance against the normalisation of harassment and rape, the video takes an ironic turn when some women start to body-shame Chakrabarty by arguing that she should “concentrate on her own body no (sic)”. Another says, “let her flaunt, she has the body to flaunt, you don’t have a body to flaunt”, which is met by a resounding “yeah!” by another woman. As the video progresses, in a shockingly self-defeating and juvenile manner, another woman shouts, “Inko bahar le kar jao, kapdo mai rape karo inka [take her out and rape her]”. The woman also threatened violence against Chakrabarty by saying “main hoti toh haath se baat karti [Had I been in place of the girls I would have let my hand do the talking]!”.

Combating misogyny with more misogyny is not the idea of feminism. Resisting patriarchy by employing and encouraging patriarchal tropes is counterproductive, to say the least. Apart from exposing Chakrabarty’s blatant misogyny, the video is equally telling of the internalised patriarchy of those women asking for Chakrabarty’s rape and body-shaming her. These unwitting comments were further encouraged on social media where several men and women took to commenting on and ridiculing Chakrabarty’s body and looks, while some even threatened to rape her.

As the social media riot progressed, the hashtag #AuntyjiApologise started trending. Needless to say, the word “aunty” has a pejorative connotation and is often used to refer to middle-aged women with orthodox views. In the dictionary of patriarchal categories, it is on par with “slut”, both premised on the stereotypical idea that women can be classified into narrow tropes based on the male perspective.

After the video went viral, the mob also took to condemning the woman using patriarchal tropes similar to the ones employed by some woman in the viral video. They stalked Chakrabarty and her social media profile and hurled sexist abuses at her. A political party worker also found details about her husband in order to make a point against another political party, taking no cognizance of the issue at hand. This is not the first time that social media mobs have become uncontrollable and have done more harm than benefit.

The viral video is a great allegory for the various levels at which patriarchy plagues Indian society: One is typified by Chakrabarty explicitly indulging in victim blaming and normalising rape; the other is exemplified specifically by some women in the video and the social media mobs in general, where deeply internalised patriarchy has made body-shaming and rape threats ironically justifiable in the wake of misogyny.

Without diluting the need to denounce Chakrabarty’s views, it is seminal to problematise the manner in which she was critiqued. If feminism is to be furthered, it must steer clear of playing by the rules of patriarchy and should make nuanced arguments that are not premised on everyday sexism and normalisation of rape, regardless of how egregious the provocation is.

Note: An earlier version of the story incorrectly cited a comment as “Inko bahar le kar jao, pakad ke rape karo inka”, it has been updated to “Inko bahar le kar jao, kapdo mai rape karo inka”. The error is regretted. 


We take comments from subscribers only!  Subscribe now to post comments! 
Already a subscriber?  Login

You may also like