Hafta Letters: On social media and gender-neutral washrooms

NL subscribers get back with bouquets and brickbats!

ByNL Team
Hafta Letters: On social media and gender-neutral washrooms
  • whatsapp
  • copy

Hi Newslaundry team,

Always appreciate the time and effort into getting us diverse viewpoints on Hafta and outside. A couple of things.

The narrative in India makes me feel hopeless about the future. Are there other countries that “felt” they faced an intruder problem but had more empathetic ways of resolving it?

Also, I’m paraphrasing, but Abhinandan mentioned an incident during the last Hafta that bathrooms had to be redone because someone did not identify with a gender. The money could have been spent better but political correctness reigned. I’d like to offer a different perspective.

There was a time not too long ago when only men went to universities and even schools. During my undergrad, women in a department only had one bathroom on the 3rd floor of another building, I remember them timing when they could run to it between classes. I believe I heard a similar story on a Hafta long back of no bathrooms for women in newsrooms. Sheryl Sandburg also mentions going to a meeting and being told by her hosts that they had no idea if they had a women’s restroom.

I think you would agree that building a restroom for women would have a cost, but one you would be willing to pay. This exclusion was a wrong done to women that most people would like to correct. Society has inequalities and we barely understand or acknowledge gender fluidity, or the issues people who don’t identify with a binary face. But it’s not just political correctness when we want people to feel included.

I’m personally fine with making restrooms gender-neutral, probably because I am now living in a country where I feel safe as a woman. Or perhaps make it okay for anyone to use any restroom based on their choice, and ensure they are respected throughout. I don’t have the answers, but that doesn’t mean the question doesn’t deserve any.




Dear NL team,

I am a long-time subscriber and have never missed a single episode of Hafta. However, I do not write often. But this time I wanted to bring this issue so badly.

I follow social media and I have observed SM influencers’ online behavior in the last couple of years. Earlier I think that it is based on their core belief in a particular cause but slowly I realised that ideology has very little to do with what stand they take on various current issues. The biggest factor is the conformance to the larger group of people that you identify with. I am not sure if it is the nature of the SM platforms or just calculated positions but most of the influencers take simplistic and selective positions on very complex issues.

For example the current situation regarding Citizenship Amendment Act aka #CAA, Many SM influencers have taken selective positions and tweeted, retweeted, liked posts on a particular aspect of the situation. Abhinandan has grave dislike for the police so his focus on social media is on police brutality, Jaggi and other prominent right-wingers will only focus on vandalism by Muslims in West Bengal. Manisha will most probably focus on issues related to students. And many more. Then common social media users will go and search for what their favourite influencer’s position is and it will become their position.

These are very generic and simplistic examples.

But the point I am trying to make is few subtle considerations happen while influencers take their position:

  1. Does it go well to the gallery I play to?
  2. Is it in contrast with the people I am generally seen against with and not contradicting my own imaginary tribe?
  3. Is it witty enough to draw attention (no matter how serious the issue is)?
  4. It is like a war of words without any fruitful results. Like every other war social media war also ends in the depression, misery and chaos.
  5. In the last few years I have seen prominent people developing this syndrome of picking up the single aspect of the issue and play along. Few names here who used to be quite fair, balanced and logical who have become a participant of the SM war.

R Jaganathan

A Rangnathan

Aarti Tikoo

Abhinandan Sekhri (Oh god! Have I poked the bear now…please don’t swear at me).

Manisha (please come a step back).

Please don’t be a participant, be an observer. NL stand has been so far very fair and balanced. I sincerely hope that we do not become another Wire or Swarajya.

Mehraj is a long due diversity addition to the team. Warm welcome to him. I appreciate the way A Vardhan dissects issues. I can see Manisha going long way ahead.

Keep doing good work. I and many others are with you.

Bhavesh Bhatt

newslaundry logo

Pay to keep news free

Complaining about the media is easy and often justified. But hey, it’s the model that’s flawed.

You may also like