I’m sure you were enjoying your day out when you saw the girls wearing short attire and going about their day at that eatery. You went right ahead and shamed them for wearing it. I do not know if you have a daughter or not, but nothing in the world can justify what you did to the girls. You have your own set of thoughts that you decided to unleash upon the girls in a demeaning, shaming and insulting manner saying “women get raped because of women like you” because the girl you spoke to wore shorts.
You even went ahead and told some men that if they see women in such short clothes they should rape them. It boiled my blood to read this in all the reports. In my heart, I cheered the girls who shot that video of you and called you out. It felt so satisfying because had I been place of those girls, I’d not have had the nerve, or even the presence of mind to take my phone out and shoot the venom you were spewing on those girls. It felt like revenge was served. And the internet agreed you deserved it.
It’s not new, what you did, really. In the old day, women were shamed for being unable to conceive, adultery and witchcraft. What you did was no different. The only thing was that your attitude came out in the open for millions to watch, and shame in return. You have become ‘the mall aunty’ with memes all across the internet, trolls having a field day with your accent, your words and your existence.
I am still outraged by your comments. And I can see that the social media has not been kind to you. Why would it be? Feminism deserves its rightful place in the society after centuries of torture inflicted upon women. The public shaming began affecting you. Some took to social media to not defend you, but to stop people from shaming you. Huh, I wonder why. You did not show any mercy to the girls, why should we? You had the gall to repeat your threats on camera, and then refuse to apologise.
We have the perfect platform to voice ourselves that gives us a lot of power. The internet shamed your clothes, your accent and your comments. You did not apologise to the girls who you harassed at the mall, and did not even concede after the woman in black kept insisting you apologise. After a barrage of online harassment with people seething and hurling mean comments, you decided to apologise. You sound scared, perhaps even insincere.
In the apology, you wrote that you were “harsh and incorrect” and that “I realize I should have been protective and progressive in my outlook and not conservative and regressive. As a wife, sister and more importantly as a woman, I value every woman’s dignity.” Darn right you should! But your apology could have been more sincere, heartfelt instead of only auto-responding to those who made your entirety of being a joke.
In times when feminism was only a dream, women were shamed, made to apologise and punished for simply being. So it only seemed right to shame the shamer because you would not calm down and have a rational conversation. And calling out has become a new norm now, a cultural thing, so why would you be spared? You deserved the mob justice – to be burned just as witches were at stake, and yours was the internet. I am aware of the ubiquitous truth that feminism still has a long way to go in India. But, you need to understand this – the girls who confronted you at the mall were not ‘asking for it’, just as you never asked for millions to troll and channel hate on you.
I absolutely abhor you and your words in that video. But what happened to you might actually not be the solution to fighting regressive thoughts. In an attempt to fight feminism with patriarchy, perhaps we simply forgot to be bigger people. It is my worst fear now – that to fight the attitude of one Soma Chakrabarthy, millions of us will become Soma Chakrabartys to defend women’s honour and rights. Your apology means nothing, when you only did it out of fear of bullies, never meant it. I know that fighting feminism with an obsolete, patriarchal stance will never help us women who work hard every single day to find our earned and well-deserved place in the world.