Unseen gender discrimination in a man’s world

For representational purposes (Express Illustrations/Amit Bandre)

Because of ages of almost universal conditioning and internalising, nobody even sees discriminatory responses as wrong. Therefore they get perpetuated

The debate over racial and gender abuse in the wake of the free-for-all on social media is today universal. The issue is especially relevant for the Northeast, for there is a general feeling amongst people here that they are victims of both in much of the rest of India. While there can be no argument that these abuses need to be not just condemned, but also befitting penalties reserved for offenders, the nature of social media being what it is, what is also called for is to specify and calibrate these offences. This is because, unlike physical abuses where the line demarcating aggression cannot be mistaken, what exactly can constitute similar abuses on the digital medium can be far less obvious. Can an insensitive or indecent remark amount to such an abuse per se or should these first form a persistent and insistent pattern before they can be termed thus? The key in coming to a decision on this must arguably be on the identification of aggression in them and the degree of it. However, certain inequalities are so entrenched and institutionalised that the discrimination resulting out of them may appear as nothing extraordinary and this is where things can get tricky. The Hollywood comedy-drama classic, Tootsie, articulated this like few others have.

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