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This is a personal account of a woman, who was bullied online, only because she was assumed to be a guy. Before someone is quick to judge me that I am belittling the experiences of cyber-bullying that women face, I wish to clarify, in no way I am doing so because I have faced it myself. All I am trying to convey here is a point that is not very often talked about; the stigmas attached to masculinity. All the experiences shared below are personal and true to me. There is no intention to harm the feelings of either gender.
As a woman, I have faced a lot of online harassment over public platforms (like Telegram) where it is easy to conceal your identity. Unsolicited pictures, flirtatious texts, and simps, (on my DMs) were the highlights.
I could not stop using the platform altogether since I needed it for educational purposes, so one fine day, to avoid all of this, I changed my username from my personal to a gender-neutral one. I had no specific name, just a phrase where no one could judge my gender (at least that’s what I thought).
To my dismay, what I discovered was something I truly was not expecting. It was quite strange for me that despite having a gender-neutral name, everyone, I repeat every person, assumed me as a guy, without even delving into the possibility of otherwise. What struck me the most was the fact that people’s way of speaking to you is determined by your gender and not by the fact that everyone is a human who deserves some basic decency in communication.
In public groups, when we see a woman getting bullied or harassed, both men and women come up and take a stand, which certainly is a good thing. Women support each other because, yes, sisterhood, and some men also take the initiatives to protect a woman. Now, the reason could be either because they are a gentleman or sadly another coveted simp but yeah, some kind of support comes to the rescue, not always but generally.
Now, what if a man is getting bullied out there for no reason? He is minding his own business, not simping over a woman, not even bullying someone else, then why does he have to go through that harassment?
Let us deep dive one by one.
For starters, why every time people assume it is a man out there whenever someone (with a neutral name) says something either good or bad? Addressing as ‘bhai,’ ‘bro’, and ‘sir’, are all male connotations. Are all the good things done by men or are all the bad deeds also done by men? Or do people still assume that women could not be a part of an active discussion?
For the sake of this issue, let’s even assume that there’s a man out there and someone decides to bully him and unnecessarily accuse him of simping over a woman. Now you might expect a woman to step up and tell others it is not the case, but 9 out of 10 times it won’t happen because women have trust issues with men, they wouldn’t take anyone’s side either or if the guy is unlucky, they might even partner with the bully and misuse their rights as a woman to plot against him, followed by insults, false accusations and hitting below the belt, leaving little to no room for that guy to protect himself. It’s because of incidents like these when men who didn’t start by hating women, also become misogynists or even bully some innocent woman in the future to let their frustrations out.
As an active user of the internet, I cannot recall the number of times, I have heard of brotherhood. In my own experience, when I (assumed to be a man), was accused of being a simp, desperate, and even rude when I took a stand for myself, no man, came forward to take a stand for me. It was so evident from the entire conversation that two certain people (a guy and a girl, who knew each other personally) were persecuting me for good reason, passing personal comments on me, my professional life, and my character, yet no one thought of speaking up for it, only because they assumed me to be a guy. Some even laughed at it. Where does the brotherhood go now? When it is a guy vs. a girl, no one wants to be a part of the matter, because “Why should I care?” Sad, but true. That is the reality of a lot of men out there. The thing which most people need to understand is the fact that rarely you will see people supporting a man on a public platform, neither men nor women, simply because men are ‘expected’ to deal with it and stand strong.
And even once in a blue moon, someone does go out there to stand up for a guy being bullied, the same bullies will call you out as weak, or even a leftist! I remembered once I mentioned it to a few guys to just mind their business because they were making fun of someone who was overweight and fat-shaming him publicly; forget appreciating the gesture, the guy who himself was being bullied started making fun of me for being a wimp. Seriously!?
I am pretty sure, no one enjoys being bullied but just to fit in the societal stigmas of masculinity, this guy decided to ‘man up’ and act like he is okay with being tyrannized because he did not want to be called a coward. And even if he would have spoken up for himself, I am pretty sure those bullies would have said that he is probably ‘acting like a woman’ and isn’t a ‘man enough’ to take a joke as a joke. And the real predicament is that to avoid getting bullied, a lot of men will even choose to become the bully because, in a world like this, you’re either the bully or the victim.
It is wrong on so many levels to do this to someone who is an absolute stranger to you, scarring them for life. A lot of people indeed face issues like this almost every day and a lot of them choose to get up and still keep going, but is this how it was supposed to be? You have no idea what this person has gone through or is struggling with, yet, just because you’re either bored or so frustrated in your own life you decide to let out your frustration on someone just so you can feel ‘in control’. That is the exact kind of psychology that goes behind ragging, bullying, or sometimes even in crimes where one person is so upset in their own life that they do wrong to someone else because watching someone else suffer feeds their sadistic pleasures. Are we so bad as a society that we have lost the essence of kindness? Only a sociologist can tell.
My reasons for writing this article are to bring to light how important Gender-inclusivity is and how even in the 21st Century we are still failing to create an environment where everyone feels safe. A lot of good men and women will not speak up or take a stand for themselves or someone else because they are afraid of getting harassed. Men, women, trans, gender-binary, gender-fluid, and a lot more face discrimination and trolling every day either online or offline. When did we become so devoid of kindness and understanding, I do not know, but for anyone who has faced any sort of harassment, I know it is easier said than done, but please do not let it take away your shine. Speak up for yourself, take a stand for strangers if you see them getting bullied, talk to someone about it if you feel alone, and seek comfort and support in your closed community but DO NOT LET IT TAKE AWAY FROM YOU!
A writer, who writes for a cause.
Deeply committed to raising awareness and advocating for critical social issues, aiming to inspire action and positive change through my work.
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