Actress Vishakha Singh gets a lot of less-than-savoury comments on Facebook, but she resiliently takes on several of her harassers. Here are two instances of her kicking ass, courtesy Buzzfeed.
When she posted this picture of herself in a fun t-shirt,
Vishakha received tons of obnoxious comments, including this one:
But she was not going to stand for poor boob-jokes, ignorance, or women being derided.
Vishakha has also been taking on other Facebook ‘fans’ who seem to think her breasts are up for public discussion.
Vishakha’s sharp responses counter ignorance and harassment with intelligence and facts. And by the look of things, neither man tried to push it any further. You go, V!
Vishakha is not alone in putting her faith in taking on abusers.
And to this [whole] "you can't do shit about it" concept - hell yes you can. You have to just make sure that people know you're there and you're NOT scared. And men will back off, 'cause nothing, as we know, is more powerful than a woman who stops giving a shit.
– Aditi Mittal, in conversation with the Internet Democracy Project
Abusers might back down when they – and everyone else - realise you aren’t simply going to let this sort of behaviour and comments slide.
In volatile political climates, droves of abusers often go after people who criticise a certain party, policy or ideology.
When actor and TV presenter Shruthi Seth did the unthinkable, a.k.a. irritably tweeted about Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s #selfiewithdaughter campaign, Twitter’s numerous BJP-supporters were not happy.
A selfie is not a device to bring about change Mr PM. Try reform. #SelfieobsessedPM
‘Not happy’ is putting it mildly, of course.
Viciously attacked over the next 48 hours by countless Twitter handles calling her everything from a ‘bitch’ to a ‘prostitute’, Shruthi vigilantly took on several of them.
She writes, in an open letter on Twitlonger (for when Twitter was still limited to 140 characters and that just wasn't cutting it):
The tweets were targeted at me, my family, my “Muslim” husband, my 11-month old daughter and, of course, my non-existent, dwindling, no-good career as an actor [… ]. Men who were busy hash-tagging their selfies with their daughters one minute called me slanderous names the next.
By the way, Twitter’s settings mean that if you share someone’s tweet with your own comment added to it (a.k.a, quote tweet), the person gets a notification – just like they would if you replied to them. Two birds, one stone. #justsaying.
Shruthi concludes in her note to India:
As for my initial reservation about the initiative being nothing more than eyewash, I am deeply saddened to see that, in the end, I was proved right.
In a not-entirely-dissimilar incident, when actress Sonam Kapoor voiced her disapproval of a four-day meat ban in Mumbai, all hell quickly broke loose.
But Sonam took them on.
also sent out some well-worded angry tweets about what was going on:
finally ended with this wry comment, but not before her valiant fight
showed that she was simply not going to ignore such behaviour.
And the good news is that there were plenty of people supporting her along the way.
When you’re taking on the trolls, knowing that your own online community has your back can make all the difference.
When abusers come with a political agenda, they tend to arrive in large numbers. But this doesn’t have to prevent you from defending yourself and taking them on, especially not if you have an online community of your own.
Responses don’t always need to be wordy. Here are some more Twitter ladies giving it back as good as they get. Or really, much better than they get - cleverly confronting abuse in a single comment.
When all journalist Sagarika Ghose could do was LOL.
In which writer and historian Nadika shut down this transphobic tweet with a well-placed Kaala reference.
[Translation: 'Kumaar, who is this fool?']
Rituparna Chatterjee spotted the sexism in an insult.
Taking on abusers isn’t just about coming up with smart, one-line responses (though that undoubtedly feels great). It can also entail engaging them in conversation, replying to their replies, and refusing to stop until they do.
Voracious Twitter user and activist @Vidyut is a seasoned master of this strategy.
So when this guy she’d never interacted with decided to announce to both her and the Twitterverse that he had had ‘enough’ of her, she was suitably distressed. NOT.
But she didn’t let it pass.
He didn’t take it too well.
Then they had this little interaction.
He was getting ragey, but she didn’t seem fazed at all
It wasn’t long before the gender-specific insults started flowing.
But she didn’t bat an eyelash.
And here are some concluding gems, in which she has the last word.
Note: these are only selections of a much longer conversation that is a testament to Vidyut's patience and high emotional bandwidth. But taking on abuse is often an emotionally draining, traumatising process. If it ever gets too much, remember that it’s perfectly okay to step away: after all, the onus to stop abuse doesn’t lie with you.
Not feeling deterred? Here’s an idea on how to increase your bandwidth to engage with abusers. Since Vidyut gets so many ‘enthusiastic’ men in her Twitter DMs and mentions, she’s very kindly laid out some rules of engagement:
Because after all, if you’re engaging with the trolls, who says it has to be on their terms?
So if you have the energy for it, go forth and feed the trolls. Feed them with your anger, your logic, your voice. Feed them until they’re full and then feed them some more.
Take up all the space you want.
Refusing to back down while remaining visibly unaffected and reframing the discussion in a way that works for you are powerful ways to take control of a conversation and of your online space.