Hello and welcome to the AIB Podcast. This is a Podcast which is slightly special. Because it is happening in collaboration with YouTube for their global project, ‘Creators For Change’. Over the next thirty, forty five minutes we are gonna be talking about. What it means to create safe online spaces for women. So with us, just to introduce the panel and that is going to be my only role as token male toxic masculine representative. Manaswi, who is a writer at AIB she is one of our amazing writers. Please give your introduction. I am an introvert, I am gonna try talking. So through, the role of this conversation is to engage Manasvi. We have Karuna Nundy who is a Supreme Court lawyer, also represents us in lot of cases because you know. Y’all need it. You guys need it. We have one and only Raveena Tandon, who just got into a spat yesterday on twitter. All the time, all the time. We have India’s favorite anti-national Gurmehar Kaur. Who is now scared of A4 sheets, I imagine so just be careful. And I am Rohan Joshi. Well its a good look that’s a new look. Well you know I am a drag queen so. You’re taking this workout very seriously. I am yes! My my My other name is Radhika Vaz, I am a comedian. So Raveena ma’am I am going to start with you. Yesterday you wrote on your blog you were talking about you know the differences between when you use to when you use to in the nineties not have social media. That the kind of harassment that you used to face on a day to day level was very different Ya! So it was in the nineties, we didn’t have any way to put forth our side of the story. So whatever the magazine controversial headlines were screaming all across the country that was what was believed and even if the magazine or the tabloid wanted to issue you an apology there be one thin fine line right at the end of the page you will get tired searching where they have apologized So it was I mean there were unbelievable stories, like you know one story actually from a tabloid magazine said that I had a fight with one of the heroes and I stood below on the ground floor and he lived on the sixth floor building on the sixth floor flat and from down I have thrown stones on his sixth floor windows and broken every window of his house. Is it because you were paid less? I was so good man I mean I was Disparity remained? No dude I was hanging my cape somewhere See my aim man. See my aim. And you still managed to shoot like six movies in between all of this conundrum that was happening so it’s a little… What did I had to do in the nineties? Play the rich spoiled brat, same dialog, same thing, only costume change. What do you do? I reached a point when I started doing different stuff now I enjoy the kind of cinema I am doing even today. But you bring about a interesting point and Radhika I wanted to actually come to you with that. Now given that you do stand-up and you’re on stage constantly. How do you see the difference in terms of how do you feel the audiences perceive you different in terms of whether its a male stand-up? If a male comic says short of the same thing its a bit more and also entertaining and I think the men in the audience and even some of the women taken more comfortably? More comfortable I say sort of the same thing and its a there is a discomfort? Discomfort. All the men will shift. Ya! But as a writer-performer that’s also my job its to keep on saying shit. Can I say that? Ya! Of course Ya! There is Bakchod on the carpet underneath. Oh shit I told him the same thing and I said. This is AIB! Sorry I am very used to being on TV I thought no but like I just think that back in the day when media was very limited to just offline it was celebrities being targeted. Today with the social media if you think about it you don’t even have to be a celebrity. So the scope has become of harassing women has actually increased because of this. But someone like Gurmehar you worked in that space but now suddenly you know you were ushered into in a very negative way. All of a sudden the reason that we started the Campaign. Movement.. Ya! The campaign was we were talking about student violence, we were talking about safe campuses, we were talking about you know that is what we were condemning and all of a sudden it just became about everything is my past and I think that is very problematic. We know that student politics is where violence exist so why aren’t we having that conversation especially in a university like Delhi university. Are you telling me that I would rather have a conversation discussing this twenty year old girl. Whether she is a nationalist or not or I would have a prime time channel debate about violence in a university like ‘DU’. What I do think and because I remember supporting her in one of my tweets and I said what is wrong with what she said I do not support war as well and that was the message she was trying to give about. Now her very very important message came out at the time when the surgical strikes and that Pakistan, Anti-Pakistan feeling was all around so that’s why everyone jumped on that bandwagon. Isn’t that then the right time? From there she I don’t think we can pandered to sentiments when people are A, War is not sacred. People loose families in war. And these are political decisions made by people that all of us have elected, right? So the thing is that I think when somebody like Gurmehar makes a very very important point Right? A series of important points. In a context, where the large squad of people disagree with her and there is a larger squad of people who agree with her. Right? All of us supported you. What happens sometime is there is very sort of masculinist. Who are you girl? Just shut up. Ya! And also like this can be talked about here, this can’t be talked about there like we are not suppose to know, you know Ya! We’re not suppose to know when to say what and also she is a citizen. Exactly! Right? And so when there is a war and if she disagrees with the war You know, not that the war sort of skirmishes at the time. I see no reason why at that time that she should not make the point that she is making. And I think that’s an important point I actually want to bring Manaswi into this debate. Cause a very famous comedian, who’s who did a joke about how every YouTube comment eventually devolves into you are Pakistani and you drink cow piss, even if its a cat video. So how do you as a user react to seeing say fake news or seeing something like you know the dramatic sort of trolling the happened of Gurmehar If you are a part of the YouTube video you always have a comment like would love to fuck the girl at 0:00…, whatever seconds you know so you constantly sexualized in that, that is the only way you are allowed to exist on the internet. The minute you want to have an opinion is when everybody has a problem. I mean I think its irrelevant whether you agree with a particular debate or not okay? Everybody has a right to voice it it just needs to exist and its people who are not willing for you to exist on the internet at all because if you’re constantly going to be trolled and you’re constantly going to be sexualized than it’s an unsafe space and you don’t wanna exist on that platform anymore. Ya! Talking about fake videos like fake news, there was a video of a girl dancing and drinking in a car and they are like truth of Gurmehar exposed she is drinking and dances in the car. One that girl’s is not me okay? Second when a woman puts their opinion forward the best way to shut her up is defamation, it’s character assassination. My mother brought the video to me this is not me. She is like I know. The whole point is whether it was me or whether it was not whats the problem? Pretty much all I write and tweet about is patriarchal issues, you know gender roles, how they should be changing so they come at you, it doesn’t really matter like do you find a difference between how, when men say something and women say something, there’s online difference of how they are approached. Ya! And in fact I feel that women don’t need to say anything you wear something and there are comments on that if a male celebrity says something or a female celebrity says something its so much easier to call a women dumb. Its one, one level is sexualizing I think we were talking about earlier I’d like you to speak to that which is personal attacks? Which is undermining. Ya! Right? So there’s one, on one level it’s sexualizing, on another level it’s your crap at what you do and you’re stupid Ya! Which is very easy to say to women because you know.. And Gurmehar faced that when you are young, and also you’re a girl, and you have an opinion all of a sudden people are like Where is the male influence? Okay someone’s polluting her? Is someone polluting her mind? Nobody is polluting my mind these are my opinions just by the way and then second I this other day I received a tweet saying she probably has a boyfriend in Pakistan and I am like no I don’t I really like Zayn Malik. Just by the way. Ya! I don’t think women should always be held to a higher standard for everything you know so one of the things I like to say and ladies, please take notes. Is the moment a man says anything at you just say something about his mother. There is no aren’t you hitting out at another women? Doesn’t matter, doesn’t matter. Doesn’t matter. Aren’t you hitting out at another women? No its not personal isn’t that patriarchal? What have you done now? You asked her to share success stories. Hear my lessons now here they are. Hear me out No no the reason why I feel Tomorrow if my son has a fight someone will start hating me He will, they will. No no they wont. You’re mother’s fat and ugly. Why? No one is going to say that about no one is going to say that to your son Okay! I was gonna try to be semi like Yes! Ask you if you wanted to re-frame the No! I don’t. Rephrase yourself darling! Rephrase. I don’t. I don’t. I don’t. I don’t. I’d tell you why I don’t. I’d tell you why I don’t the nuance is not I am not saying anything about a woman I am saying something about that guys Mom, its against him. She… it’s different man! But the end product is the mother. Didn’t you attack another women then? Radhika, I love you but I can’t even defend that No! You shouldn’t. Okay should I start. You know actually I’d like to Say I am very lucky and thankful to my parents that I’ve been brought up in a house where we had equal opportunities but my thing on social media I fight I have the confidence and I have the knowledge to fight back there is so many people who have you know send messages to me Oh! Don’t stoop to their level and don’t I am like no, I am not going to back off these people want to intimidate you into silence. Do not keep quite. Just bloody give it back. Karuna I want to ask you because there will be a lot of people who would be watching this on YouTube who are very young who will not be in a position of power slash privilege that you have because you are older you have X amount of because now you go on the age factor I don’t have that kind of like because she doesn’t have that I think to re-enforce what you’re saying right? I think a lot of people say don’t wrestle with pigs. Right? And look my policy is a little bit different cause I think there are some people who that you can can not reason with and some people who will just sort of Crazy! Or you know so misogynist that so those I block. And that something for me that really makes it a much more calm space because honestly I have a hell lot of work to do right? So I find but I think engaging online is important and so I block a lot of people so that’s one thing but second thing is I think that the point Raveena is making which is that do not fall silent. It’s not that you have to shout, yeah exactly not that you have to get shrill you don’t have to say anything about their moms but and I did not abuse back Don’t have to say anything about their mothers. Ya! The point I was trying to make was everybody what because there are younger kids who are watching this who will invariably fall silent because they don’t have the kind of support system. How much do you think is the role of say for example parents now Facebook has for example a fairly big problem in terms of revenge porn and lot of you know young women who obviously get shut down because they can not tell their parents this has happened. If you’re sixteen and you are being bullied online and if there is some you know video about you if there is you know there are kids in the old days there was one kid who committed suicide because of this. Right? Ya! Ya! So even now that’s happening. Ya! even now its a very very important thing not to just sort of go into you’re shell and think you have to deal with it in your on. First thing to remember is it is not your fault its not your fault and its not just your responsibility to deal with it. It is the platforms responsibility whether it’s Facebook whether its Instagram whether whatever platform it is whether it’s a service company, service delivery company and look at their terms of service and see well I suppose that’s very easy for me but you know I actually ask your parents to Google terms of service you know and see what the contract is between you and them and the terms on which you have signed up secondly activate that get help if you’re sixteen, you know get help from your parents if you’re twenty five may be you can get help from your friend but get a support system in place legally what is the support? Legally there’s a lot there are Cyber Cells if you’re in Bombay or from Delhi like also in the other cities Hyderabad, Bangalore in the main cities there are now cyber cells where you can go, you can complain there’s various different laws. Right? Like one is ‘354 A’ Which is sexually colored words against a women there’s ‘509’ which is words and gestures that outrage the modesty of a women. There’s Section ‘503’ and Section ‘506’ Which are about threats to your person or threats to property or threats to your reputation if somebody says that you do this thing and I will destroy your reputation and look a lot of this is problematic in terms of free speech I just want to say that. Right? You know sometimes these but go and file that FIR make that complain and then send it to the forum and get that support and do the you know, challenge it, do the work and take it down. There was a case recently where there was this person opening profiles after profiles after profiles, making fake profiles basically and really like defaming this one particular person in fact this happened to someone I know also something very similar and A- she is scared because she doesn’t know how to control it once you report it but then there was this other case which was where this person was trying to track down and the cyber cell was not able to do that so in such cases when it’s not so much about like you know like a war of words or arguing with someone, but somebody’s harassing you and you have no control over it women live in rape anxiety. Right? All of us when we walk on a dark alley we keep looking over our shoulder. So when you get threats like that there are they are not just something that exist online it’s something that’s very real and you you can’t help but feel intimidated by that, that’s why women do get shut down Yes! Because then your safety comes paramount or when you know somebody posts my number or my address online that’s when I want to quit a platform. So there are two things. Right? Like when you have a physical threat when you have a credible physical threat I don’t think you have any other option but to go and file a FIR. I think it’s really really important. Now in that situation So you’re saying that if say for example I got a barrage of tweets from One particular harasser not one of but like you know I am going to do this to you I am going to do that to you. I save those tweets and then take those and file my FIR? You save those tweets and also ideally if you don’t, like, if you can do it as fast as possible so that the IP address can be traced. Right? And once the FIR is filed the police can make an inquiry of the platform, and the platform then has to disclose you do have the right to an anonymity and I think it’s valuable but once you commit the criminal offense that right goes. Right? And so the platform is to disclose the details they have to disclose the details that’s one thing the second thing I think in terms of safety is that police state government haven’t sorted out the witness protection program yet and that’s a huge problem and so therefore sometimes it’s about private security and private security the best private security is about is really expensive. Right? So one thing is you just have to insist that the police and you have to just get everything disposal and the police gives you some kind protection. Right? The third thing is that look for a non bailable offense. so for example stalking and we are trying to see what you can do about this but stalking at the moment is at the first instant bailable. How crazy is that? Ya! Right? Because somebody is following you repeatedly and is threatening you and saying even that they will rape you this that. Right? and You file an FIR and there is nothing that the magistrate can do about it because it is a bailable offense. It’s crazy however in some situations there are provisions of the IT Act, the Information Technology Act that apply. Right? So for example there’s ‘Section 67 A’. Which is sexually explicit and obscene pictures that are sent. So or messages so there are messages like that, that I mean you know in the wisdom of the legislature, that on the other hand is non bailable. So so in that situation. you then see what is the non bailable offense you see if that has happened in your interaction and then you deal with it in that manner. The third thing is that in Delhi personal threats are have become Bailable. But there are other states where personal threats are non bailable. Non bailable. So just remember that because I think in Delhi everybody thinks you know who I am? everywhere daily day to day thing if it gets non bailable the half of the state will be in jail. beyond a point. But you know coming back I think to the crux of the matter is that somewhere the infrastructure as far as safety and protection towards woman has to solidify. There’s so many times that I have reported being threatened against rape, murder, whatever and actually reported it to the social media platform and I got a reply saying sorry we don’t find anything that offensive on this and I have actually taken snapshot. So give an example? Like what they found not offensive? Okay there was this guy who was treating me all the time and said that we will dash you so many times that you won’t have the strength to walk. And open your mouth. And what did you ask for? What did you ask the platform to do? That block this user, he’s sending me these kind of messages. And they didn’t? They didn’t. Wow! Wow! They didn’t. Which year was it? this was during the tolerance debate. Now see. Now see. I think the platform’s mom need to be taken. You know So you know interesting thing happened is that Twitter was going to be sold and then they weren’t bought and there were a lot of the accounts, the media accounts of why they weren’t bought out was because of the hate problem because they were failing to deal with it. Right? And a lot on these platforms have a bit of a nationality problem. Right? Which is that you know when you have Robin William’s daughter being trolled immediately they will come up with various safety new policies, you know? Because she is American. Ya! Because she is an American. Here you have various woman being told you know you will be raped, killed, etc. And the reaction wasn’t as much this is something that is changing. I don’t I mean we will have to see how fast its changing but it’s something that’s changing. Gurmehar when you were going through you’re experience did you feel like okay I need to sort of quit all platforms or what kept you going? I feel like like whatever happens online is a reflection of the society. I luckily come from a privileged place because I have been brought up with just women around me I have seen my mother work you know at par with men. Second I am from a institution where we take pride in being woman. You know I come from a college that is straight up they claim that we are all feminist. People who do have this privilege they need to go up and they need to take responsibility to break those structures of patriarchy that are out there. So I think this is what kept me going. I felt like you know I have a social responsibility I can not. I can not keep quite the only reason I did not go for the march that happened was, because all of a sudden the whole conversation was not about the campaign that I had started which was against non violence, and I realized if I this is what I thought if I do not go to that march. If I withdraw myself from the campaign maybe then you will talk about nonviolence. So that was my thought process it wasn’t that somebody shut me down I mean that’s not going to happen. I am still here. I also want to now open to questions in case anybody has any I know this was a heavy discussion but there’s a lot of question, lets start with you we have spoken about misogyny in this case but don’t you think there’s also an underline issue of anti intellectualism that you know in a debate I have to be right if I am right you’re wrong. That sort of thing is there and I think that also channels because like when a women opposes you it’s not that someone’s opposing you know a woman is opposing you. No you know when I think that when it’s a public platform there is a way in which you are not just having a discussion with the person but you’re demonstrating that you’re having a discussion with the person. Yes! Yes! Right? You’re performing an argument. See see Raveena Tandon has Blocked me. I mean you know blocked you so then what? Right? Ya! its people wear it as a source of pride, which is very strange. Ya! Ya! And then there is also this culture of screen shot. Now the point is that I may have said something in two thousand and twelve. Why must I think the same thing. Right? Like surely people, surely an intelligent person keeps growing, keeps thinking about things thinks of things also in different contexts and keeps changing their minds. And so how do we deal with this? I mean I am not sure we have an answer. Do we have an answer? How do we deal with this? I think like I think the only thing that I think is that. I am like I think I am always willing to admit that I am wrong like It’s okay to be wrong like that’s true.. Nobody says that that I am wrong. Okay so you’re good at this how do you how do you do it? At being wrong? Yes! You are wrong all the time. You are wrong all the time. How do you say that? You’re wrong. Or you have changed you’re mind while saving face. I think it’s a process of growing like I think like we’ve all like said stuff in twenty eleven which we’re not proud of because we’ve grown as people. So I don’t think if with, just coming to her point. If we’re wrong and if we’ve changed our mind about something. Yeah. Then we just admit that we have and that doesn’t mean that four year later I might not go back to that position I do believe today that social media is actually has been politically hijacked. There has been insistence where now I will say on record where actually a spokesperson of a political party picked up a fight with me. and another MP of that party who’s a very dear friend. He said the directives that have been given to a lot of political spokespeople who are on social media is pick up a fight with a celebrity. To get more eye balls. I just wanted to ask this question that there is always a fine line between being assertive, and then being a bitch being perceived as one Indian men particularly where they are not use to of seeing mostly if I had to generalize strong opinionated women at home so that they can come out and hear strong intelligent women they are like what did just hit us. I actually wanna answer that like this is my experience is that I funnily enough, I’ve had this experience with my group of my friends where, a very close friend of mine said the same thing that yes she is she’s good man, she’s very confident, she’s assertive but a little more. And I am like what the fuck does that mean. I genuinely felt the way I grew up because since we were born the way we’ve been treated. We don’t even realize that we are being patriarchal till somebody calls it out Ya! Till we reach that age. Women play a very important part in the upbringing of their sons and their daughters, for example there was this this you know. doctor with me on a panel recently. She said you know in the house they’ve heard the mother. You know tell the daughter why are you going outside wearing short skirt, shorts. Come on either wear jeans or churidar. You know. Whereas the son is listening to this so for him the upbringing is that the girl who’s wearing shorts is easy. While the girl who is in salwar kameez or is wearing full jeans on a full t-shirt is the decent chick. But guys who are rapist, wife beaters, abusers whether they are online or they are offline or in reality, or have attitude towards women. have also been brought up by a woman. We also need to influence you know our sons or our children and they have been brought up by parents. And the attitude are not just at home. I went to a school which was completely patriarchal, there was constant bulling from the boys I think that’s probably where I learnt you know what to say back. What do you think of like schools and colleges like do you feel that they’re not changing the game there either. So what I felt was everything cool was constantly male. So if as a child I may have played with ‘G.I. Joe’, Barbie, but I would always disown the barbie experience Ya! Because I don’t wanna be frivolous to everybody. I have dissociated myself with makeup. I’ve dissociated with myself all things female or I have suppressed that cooler to have guy friends. Ya! Its cooler to have guys friends. Like my girlfriends are fucking cool you know Ya! Like I have amazing smart women friends which I have now but earlier Ya! I use to disown them and this is something I internalized for really long time. I saw other women who were feminine as lesser which is as problematic. You know? Ya! I was just buying into the same thing that I was trying to get away from. Totally! Alright. Okay so we really have to wrap now. Thank you very much everyone who came over. Appreciate a big round of applauds for the guest thank you all the panelist Thank you very much appreciate it. Thank you.