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I just unfriended (I continue to wince when I use that word, but I guess there really is no other word, given that is exactly what I did) a guy on Facebook yesterday.
He wasn’t exactly a bosom buddy. More the kind that you exchange the odd ‘Hello’ and ‘What a hot/rainy/cold day’ with sort of person. He worked on one of the editorial desks of the TV channel I used to work for. Long after I quit as a TV reporter, the age of Facebook dawned and he squirmed into my peripheral mind space by sending me a ‘friend’ request.
While I accepted the invite to be one of the faces in his friends list, I never really paid a lot of attention to his occasional updates that ranged from status updates flicked from Paulo Coelho’s books to his photographs with him and sometimes his friends standing in front of cars, random monuments or even just blank walls.
And then yesterday as I idly scrawled down my news feed littered with people sharing this, that and the other, I happened to read his status.
‘How do you confuse a woman? You don’t. They are born that way.’
Now I’ve seen worse status messages before – downright degrading and insulting ones. I could have chosen to ignore this one, maybe even hidden it from my news feed and gone on with my day. But I don’t know what it was that possessed me, that I clicked on and unfriended him.
I did feel better after that. But then would that simple act even make a difference? I mean, it wasn’t like he was going to get a notification stating that he was no longer on my list of friends. And we were never close enough to have commented on or even ‘liked’ each others posts, so it wasn’t like he would miss seeing me on his wall.
Now in the clear light of day, I wonder whether I should have sent him a message first. Or maybe commented on the post, pointing out why he was being a sexist (insert expletive here). Would it have made a difference? Or would he have just told me to take a ‘chill pill’ and gone on and posted his next sexist status?
I’ve written before about sweating the small stuff and about how we shouldn’t let even the slightest sexist remark slide. So was unfriending him taking the easy way out?
Yes, I wouldn’t have to suffer through his random flow of posts anymore, but had I just missed out on an opportunity to stand up and say ‘STOP’?
The internal debate continues.
So do you think that I should go ahead and send him a mail or just move on and wait for that next sexist post by someone else? For surely, there will be a next one.
What would you do?
Shweta Ganesh Kumar is a Writer and Travel columnist.
Her fourth book and first collection
I’ve seen quite some sexist posts on FB and even read comments from females, objecting to those posts. In almost all cases, the poster is backed by other guys saying how true the post is, and the female is left looking like an angry bird with zero tolerance to humor.
I personally bumped into a couple of mails between my male colleagues, making sexist remarks about the female employees at office. When I mailed them saying that I had read their conversations and found it insulting, they responded with utter silence. This was a year ago and there has been no conversation of any sort from their side, let alone an apology. Yes! I was collectively boycotted for pointing out a wrong.
Sexist remarks have become so common that while its not okay to silently tolerate them, clearly objecting them doesn’t bring much improvement, rather it leaves you angrier.
So I guess, the right thing to do would be to object only when you’re ready to bear the stupidity that follows from their side.
And the anticipation of the stupidity to come does deter one from objecting. But I wonder whether that is the same as turning a blind eye to say, mild eve-teasing. When we don’t protest and just ignore, are we just promoting status quo?
I’m still wondering what the right response is.
Hm, you got me thinking. Objecting to eve-teasing is different because the culprits are physically present. Sadly, the internet provides a sort of physical barrier to us while objecting. I am sure if instead of a mail, I had talked to those guys on their faces, I’d have got a better response (aka, their shame and apologies). Not that I’m vengeful. It’s just that mostly such guys are spineless and frustrated around real women and vent it out in the form of sexist comments.
Maybe you could try direct confrontation, may not be aggressive though.
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