Why Don’t Women Have The Freedom Of Political Speech & Trolled Brutally For Speaking Up?

Women, please have an opinion on politics and express it, even if everybody else disagrees with you. Because the political is very closely tied up with the personal.

Women, please have an opinion on politics and express it, even if everybody else disagrees with you. Because the political is very closely tied up with the personal.

Okay, this opinion piece was long overdue. Way long overdue. Then, came the catalyst. Rihanna’s tweet.

Yes, you know what I’m talking about. You’ve all seen it on the news. Rihanna tweeted a CNN article about Delhi’s internet blackout, and the Indian Media went bat-shit crazy, as usual.

Now, before you ask me or point fingers, let me begin my piece by saying that I have hardly listened to Rohanna’s songs, and I am non-partisan whilst covering news. I leave my political opinion at the door whilst working. Neither am I a fan of the lady in question, nor am I going to expound on my opinion on farmer’s protests. What I am going to talk about is women’s right to political speech.

Why has political speech become a taboo amongst women and why don’t women vociferously discuss politics like men? How many of us can name ten female politicians in India? How many of them are currently serving in the current administration? How many women are there in both houses of parliament? Are we even close to half the number?

Nope, not even close.  There are 78 women in the Lok Sabha out of a total of 545, and 27 in the Rajya Sabha out of a total of 250.

These are some realities of being a woman expressing her political opinion, and it outlines why women should express their opinion on politics.

Women must be aware about politics

Okay, politics is often boring. Or used to be, until the media made it into a reality show. But whether you like it or not, you have to be aware of the political developments in your district, state and country. The government is responsible for the smooth functioning of our lives. We cannot avoid talking or keeping tabs on it.

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You don’t want to watch news anchors yell at their guests all night? Then watch DD News, BBC or Al Jazeera. Or read articles from news agencies like AP, AFP or Reuters. They aren’t coated with propaganda, and they aim to produce facts.

If you have time to watch a daily soap, you have time to consume the news. Countries around the world are banning abortion rights, making healthcare more expensive and decreasing prison sentences for sex offenders. That can happen in India soon. You may never know. Anything can happen in politics.

What? You’re sceptical? Okay, there are Southern States in the U.S.A, the leader of the free world, that had banned abortion until Biden became President. The United States Supreme Court is restricting the availability of abortion pills. Poland has banned abortion, a country where 98% of abortions would happen because of foetal abnormalities, Canada despite having tough laws for sexual assault and rape has lot of victims bemoaning the fact their abuser/rapist is walking free due to a technicality in the law.

If none of this matters, then the price of your vegetables, the change in your children’s curriculum and your tax code being changed are all matters of your concern. So please start pay attention.

Expressing your political opinion is and will be a challenge

There are multiple news shows that have female hosts and guests, so why do women get so much hate online or in-person for expressing their political opinion?

A woman’s political speech or opinion is another excuse to harass her. Former Presidential Candidate Secretary Clinton and Former Vice-Presidential Candidate Governor Sarah Palin, women on both sides of the political spectrum have reported to have been called every name in the book, and received the same sexist, dismissive treatment and cajoled for stating their opinions. If it can happen to them, it can happen to you.

Alright, I agree that the wedge between the left and right is so wide that it has erased the centre, if we ever had a centrist population. We can always agree to disagree. President Obama was called an Arab and a terrorist and his challenger John McCain defended him during the 2008 campaign. When will Indian women politicians do that? Not anytime soon. They’ll join the bandwagon and even become the loudest voice of criticism.

Actress and YouTuber Payal Rohatgi, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitaraman and Kangana Ranaut have a lot in common. All three of them identify and agree with right-wing politics to varying degrees. You may completely disagree with them or not. But why on earth do you think that calling them  psychotic is feasible? All of them have had the courage to express their opinion and dared to do so, even if based on false or inaccurate information, why are they trolled online so often?

Death threats, rape threats and accusing them of being imbeciles is not the right way to handle a disagreement. We have to put an end to this nonsense. We all get our information from the biased news media. And conspiracy theories are floating around everywhere. They aren’t journalists to know fact from fiction, and will repeat only what is told or do their own research. But its their opinion. Not yours. Just correct them when they say inaccurate things. Call out derogatory statements and threatening behaviour. We all have a place in the political spectrum. Make sure to get your facts straight from reliable sources, and respect and encourage political discourse and do not support or indulge in trolling of other women.

Good politicians prevent the election of bad ones

Yes, you are making an informed choice when you vote. Representative from Georgia, Marjorie Taylor Green is a QAnon conspiracy theorist.

QAnon is a political conspiracy theory cult, which believes that CNN news anchors drink the blood of babies, Biden stole the election from Trump, and Hillary Clinton started a child trafficking racket. Representative Green has stated that a plane did not crash the Pentagon on 9/11 and harassed a survivor of a shooting massacre which took place in Florida. Need I go on?

The counter argument you’re giving me right now is, all Indian politicians are corrupt criminals who are asinine and don’t work. Fair point. What if you had to choose between someone like Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton? Both of them are corrupt and power hungry. But the difference is evident. We’ve all witnessed what a Trump Presidency looks like. Wouldn’t a Clinton Presidency be a little lesser crazier?

We all saw the tragedy unfold on Capitol Hill last month. The rioters wanted to assassinate their own VP, and he was Trump’s biggest supporter.

Tomorrow, when we have another election, we’ll at least know where the candidate stands on several issues, and when someone like Arvind Kejriwal who actually tries to help women gets elected, we’d be doing ourselves a favour. When we know that someone will take away our rights, we will most definitely avoid electing them.

In conclusion, whether you are a Hindu Nationalist or a tree-hugging liberal, please state your opinion. Please form an opinion, have an opinion and express your opinion, even if everybody else disagrees with you. The more you explicate and aver your opinion, the lesser the occurrence of such incidents with Rihanna, Kangana and Greta. We can take baby steps at fighting sexism in politics and who knows, someday, we may elect our second female Prime Minister! Nobody may care about your opinion, but expressing it can go a long way. You may actually gain more knowledge, or even change your position on the political spectrum! We need everyday women who fight for women’s right in the highest echelons of government, and being vocal will only make the process quicker.

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