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The YouTube Vs. TikTok Feud Once Again Questions Our Regressive Beliefs Of Gender And Gender Fluidity

Posted: May 16, 2020
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The latest YouTube vs. TikTok feud is made me question opinions on gender fluidity. Are we still living in an era where being feminine is considered low?

Youth Ki Awaaz reported “YouTube Has Deleted CarryMinati’s Most Liked Indian (Homophobic) Video, Finally!” The article said that a popular Indian YouTuber, CarryMinati posted a video demeaning TikTok users which had been deleted by YouTube for violating its policy.

The video was reported by several users because it was aimed to attack other content creators using homophobic slurs such as Meetha (‘sweet’ but used as an insult, citing lack of ‘masculinity’) and Pari (meaning ‘Fairy’, used to misgender) 

“Note that in South Asia, it is a common practice to insult others by calling them gay or transgender. Further, he also says TikTok creators can be sold at a Meethai ki Dukaan (sweet shop) for ₹200, referring to the homophobic slur Meetha. Throughout the video, he resorts to the common homophobic practice of misgendering by addressing the creator as Beti (daughter),” Youth Ki Awaaz reported.

Does being feminine make you lesser citizen?

Okay, so, let’s start with the basics – CarryMinati used homophobic slurs. And what were those – beti, fairy, meetha (the contextual meaning is lacking masculinity) A man making TikTok videos is insulted and is being called Beti, Pari, and Meetha. And the platform removed the content on the basis of homophobia?

Both the giver and receiver of the insult felt one could be insulted as a gay/transgender/homosexual by calling them beti multiple times. So, being gay is a matter of how feminine you are? How immature, stereotypical, and orthodox are we in the second decade of the 21st century?

Was this homophobia? No. Because this was misogyny. A man felt that he could insult another man by questioning his masculinity by juxtaposing him against a girl. Meanwhile, the receiver of this insult also responded as predicted by taking it as an insult on his masculinity as he was called a girl.

So, basically your masculinity is a measure of “how not girly you’re?” To be a man, you’ve to be “less and less woman.” This isn’t homophobia; this is misogyny at a newer level.

Be ashamed of being called a female, why don’t you?

“Tum mard ho, aur beti bulaye jaana sharm ki baat hai” (you’re a man and it is an insult when someone calls you a girl). You know why? Because deep down, you firmly believe that women are the second sex, the second class citizens, the inferiors.

So, how can I, a man, be a woman? I, a man, can be a woman only if I’m gay because being gay and being beti mean the same things  for you – the secondary, the lesser, the lower, and the despicable. On a scale of infinity to infinity, how regressive are you?

I was talking to a very well educated, qualified, and urban male friend of mine about this, and I was shocked to hear what he’d to say on this (quoting him verbatim) – “They were trying to be something that should have been done by a girl.”

My “otherwise forward thinking” friend believed that men and women have “essential traits.” That any deviation from that deserved the contempt and condemnation that the Tiktoker got, “Beti!” Well-deserved, right? What a waste of education and opportunity are we!

There’s a problem in being a girl?

The problem isn’t and wasn’t CarryMinati rather people who think Beti, Pari are slurs and insults. Our mindset is moulded in a way such that men believe they’re transgenders/gays/homosexuals if someone thinks they’re like girls.

A significant proportion of our population, particularly males, thinks that the biggest problem in being a transgender/gay is being closer to the female attributes. Thus, the slurs – beti, pari, meetha are relatable. The problem isn’t in being a transgender/gay, the problem isn’t homophobia but it’s rather in being like a girl.

It’s a matter of pride to be a man, and even to be a tomboy but people can harass you by calling you a pari, a beti, being meetha. And you too will feel the shame, call it homophobia, and register complaints. No dear, this IS NOT homophobia. This is plain misogyny.

Because not only them, you too are pained at being called a woman. The problem isn’t misgendering; the problem is calling a man “a beti.” I want to know why were/are you insulted that he called you a girl? Why is it an insult to call you a girl? What made you think being called a girl reduced your masculinity? And what is it in being beti that can quickly transform a man? So, by that definition, anyone who’s not a girl but can be called a girl is a gay/transgender/homosexual. Are we serious?

Haven’t people’s thoughts on gender fluidity changed at all?

Four years ago, I wrote the following for The HuffPost – “In the forgotten days, society used the concept of “gender” to assign tasks to men and women and thus, some traits came to be associated with a particular gender. But we, the so-called modern people, victimise ourselves to stereotypes and at times, instigate such stereotypes when we somehow appreciate the maverick but by “qualifying” it to a particular gender label.

Why must men and women have “essential traits”? People’s gender expressions are very diverse and are much more fluid and unpredictable than society’s constructed categories.

Our identity is an amalgamation of numerous elements and not just our “gender.” This “identity”, thus, should not be fixed as per our ‘gender’ and must not determine our “individuality.” All of us have character traits that swim against the gender mainstream.

‘How we act’ and ‘how we should act’ are two totally different things in reality. Therefore we must not chain ourselves to the ‘shoulds’ of gender-based preconceptions and misconceptions and must let ourselves free to pursue our passion.”

It’s time we flagged off these thoughts from our mind!

And I’m deeply sad to see that these words still find relevance in today’s context – a world that hasn’t changed in four years. The four years in which we made a lot of progress as a society.

From decriminalising homosexuality to giving permanent commission to women in the armed forces, we embraced changes. Alas, not much has changed in essence, it seems.

With some people laughing at CarryMinati calling a man “a girl” and with others taking offence by connecting this with being homosexual/transgender, it seems like we’ve simply turned the calendar pages. It’s just a change in laws; no change of heart or mind.

We still think the way we used to. And we should rather be ashamed of this, take offence at this. We need to register complaints against this. And  most importantly, we need to flag off this deplorable train of conventional ideologies from our minds for once and for all.

Picture credits: YouTube

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Ananya is an economist-in-the-making & internet governance advocate who is extremely passionate

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