#MisogynyAlert: Principles for engagement

by Guest Author


This blog post by Anand Philip was originally posted on his blog. It suggests questions that need to be addressed to move forward constructively with regard to the use of the hash tag #MisogynyAlert, which emerged as a possible strategy to deal with online abuse at a National Consultation on Women and Gendered Online Abuse held by the Internet Democracy Project and Point of View in New Delhi. We have reproduced Anand's post here with permission.

Not because #MisogynyAlert is a bad idea. But because it is the brand of feminism that applies on oppressors the same tactics they’ve been applying on women all these years. I’m not sorry to say, that’s not my feminism’. — #MisogynyAlert by Tharkuri

Ranjani, who blogs at https://​fem​i​nist​words​.word​press​.com, critiques the #MisogynyAlert hashtag and it’s execution on twitter. Reading her article (linked above) will help make what I’ve written below make sense.

Kiran Manral’s Why we need #misogynyalert’ on Tehelka blogs is a great introduction to the idea.

Personally, I think it is too early to write off the project. I think it is a great idea, but needs definition, and some sketching of what it wishes to accomplish, and how.

One of the most painful things to watch is people getting bombarded by misogynists, who tend to stick together very well, and not get any support from the larger community. I think a hash-tag is a brilliant idea for getting people to rally together. It has the potential to get people to become more vocal against misogyny, as well as ward off targeting of activists and others by misogynists.

Here are a few things to consider.

  1. What is our approach? Do we want to scare them” off or just let them know that misogyny is not ok, or is it something else? Is ridicule of their belief ok? What about swearing at them? Where do we draw the line?

  2. Who are they”? Does everyone with regressive beliefs about women need flagging, or is it just those who constantly badger others with their beliefs? Should bigger fish with less obvious misogynist beliefs be tackled or is this essentially an anti-harassment hashtag? 

  3. Is there a component of bringing change in the other” in this? Agreed that some misogynists are not going to change their views, ever, but does group-flagging them discourage them from examining their views? I say this because I have in the past, and am sure even now, held misogynist beliefs, and the way I changed was being challenged, but in a way that lead me to think, without being ridiculed or making me defensive. The few years i have spent in healthcare challenging people’s beliefs about health, have convinced me that everybody can change their views, if approached correctly. – How does this affect the misogynist? What effect do we want?

I am looking forward to hearing from the people behind the idea, and I hope the thoughts above will be taken at face value, because this definitely isn’t a critique of people and their actions.

Note: The reason I am using the possessive pronoun we” in-spite of having had nothing to do with the seeding of the idea or execution, is that unless users take ownership, social projects never really become social. I am a feminist, and I believe in supporting those who are targeted/​bullied, ergo, we.