The crueller sex?

During the last season of the Indian Premier League, Royal Challengers Bangalore fan girl Deepika Ghose became an overnight sensation. Clad in a red off-shoulder top, she was captured on camera cheering for RCB as they played the Sunrisers Hyderabad at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium. Her picture went viral. Her Instagram followers increased and she became an overnight star like the wink girl Priya Varrier.

What happened next was a chain of events, no individual would have wanted to happen. Social media went into a frenzy about the girl and her video and pictures were circulated all over the internet. Random users began stalking her, creating memes and some even came up with fake accounts in her name.

This drove her to write, “I did not want any recognition or realise the number of times that I was on camera. I am no celebrity, just an ordinary girl who was enjoying the match. I did nothing to warrant the kind of attention that ensued after the TV images appeared and I certainly did not seek it."

She continued, "Even more shocking is the hate I have received from women. How quick and cruel you have been to say mean things to and about me without even knowing me. I AM ONE OF YOU!" she added.

Deepika maintained that the world desperately needs more women supporting and uplifting each other. "I am appalled by how I have been judged and condemned instead of being given a compassionate hearing. Stop and think about how it is as a girl to have been subjected to this unwanted attention.”

Speaking about why women tend to shame other women instead of standing by them, noted actress Gireeja Oak-Godbole says, “One cannot point to a specific reason as to why women tend to do so. Each one of us wants to be a part of the ideal world wherein such events do not occur, but we are very far from reaching there.”

“The concepts of decency and indecency have been so confusing for most of us that it will take a few more years, or even an entire generation for us to make the world an ideal place to live.” Gireeja adds, “Our ancestors have come from times when one’s dressing was directly linked to one’s character.

"Even today, girls, from a young age, are taught by their mothers to ‘sit properly’ and avoid revealing much of the body. Heads turn at women and girls in short clothes. Men, boys and even women stare at girls wearing such clothes. As a people and society we are yet to mature and understand that everyone has their choice of clothing.”

In an era when we are apparently celebrating feminism more than ever, and sharing stories in solidarity of abuse and assault, why are so many still tearing women down over their sexuality? Both in person and online, slut-shaming is way too common an occurrence — and oftentimes, the perpetrator is a fellow female.

Young Ketaki Chitale, actor and influencer, has a slightly different take on it. “Everyone judges and shames each other regardless of their gender. However, the male chauvinists always tomtom it when a woman shames another woman.

This leads to more disparity among women. The day women realise that it is the men who have been driving a wedge between them, this power struggle will end and feminism will truly prevail,” she believes.

“When women slut-shame, it’s for different reasons. Where does it stem from? Probably jealousy or their own lack of self-esteem. Slut-shaming on the internet is another beast to tame,” claims dancer, actor and model Meera Joshi.

According to Joshi, this is at times a strategy to turn down a newcomer in the entertainment industry. “For someone who is well established as a public figure or a noted personality, a newcomer’s entry might be unsettling. They might have a feeling of their position being threatened.”

The unfortunate fact is that slut-shaming runs deeper that most of us are aware of. At times it is ‘our people’ who shame and create ugly situations. “Slut-shaming by friends and those whom we consider family is the last thing one would want to experience in life. I am of the opinion that people should choose to be more accepting towards others.

In order to deal with such situations, ignorance is the best policy. The moment you ignore them, their value reduces to a big zero. Reacting to them will only escalate the topic and boil our blood. That is actually what such people want. Why give them what they want so easily?” expresses student and model Deesha Katkar.

The bottomline is that shaming in general and slut-shaming in particular is vicious and takes a toll on the one who is at the receiving end. It is both harmful and damaging. Women who have been slut-shamed are left with a sense of extreme humiliation, shame, embarrassment and pain.

Some even take recourse to self-bullying and eating disorders in order to cope with the sense of worthlessness. Body image issues, depression, anxiety and suicidal thoughts are also a consequence of such shaming. Not behaviour to be proud of, women who slut-shame.