100 #openyourlegs tweets bhakts do not see
This thing has gone on long enough. Thanks to extremely targeted promotion of one tweet, many BJP supporters who accuse me of it get used to unintentionally participate in a sexualized trolling campaign by BJP's gutter wing. Several have apologized after coming to know the full story. So, this post is addressed to Modi fans - bhakts in common parlance who may or may not be intentionally engaging in something they would otherwise find obscene.
This post is not a defense of that tweet. I do not feel sorry for it and I stand by it and it has not been answered to date. It is merely the larger picture around the tweet that allows you to make an informed choice on how low you are willing to fall in order to attack people.
Since I have finally been able to download my tweet archive, here is the series of tweets relevant in that scenario. Some are from me, some are from others. Some supporting me, some attacking me, some by me attacking the trolls as well as BJP's signature sexualized trolling. To be noted here is that since this happened, I have also seen supporters of AAP doing this on occasion, but the overwhelming "market leader" continues to be BJP.
There is good reason to believe that this behavior is part of BJP's media strategy given the revelations in Operation Blue Virus stings, the fact that the Gujarat government under Modi explicitly created social media budgets (at Gujarat state expense) and that some of the most abusive profiles are followed by our Prime Minister's Twitter account - independently verifiable.
It was election time and anonymous handles supporting BJP were out in full force. These handles execute organized trolling attacks on critics of BJP using a combination of statements taken out of context and interpreted to create offense, false accusations and sexual insults - particularly against women critical of BJP. These tweets are also used to incite regular followers of BJP against critics and create an overall sense of BJP being wrongfully under attack.
This is not a new thing. However, it seems to be escalating and I chose to not accept the defiling and deliberate hostile environment that is aimed at silencing criticism of BJP. Over the week leading to this, I as well as several other women had been the targets of extremely obscene attacks by the "bhakts" as they are called for their unreasoning worship of Modi and relentless attacks on his critics.
The nature of these organized attacks is to intimidate or shame women into silence. Some of the tweets spoke of me having 10 fathers. Earlier I had been asked about the "rate" I charge for my son - implying I prostitute him to pedophiles. I have been accused of being a "lesbian" (it is apparently an insult in bhakt lingo). The broom shoved between my legs has featured in many sneering insults (implying sexual favors to the Aam Aadmi Party). And more.
These are 100 tweets from that day, removing irrelevant replies or comments.
This is where shit hit fan.
BJP supporters started targeting me with insults. I replied to some, ignored others, etc.
It was one of these tweets that got a reply telling me that I "open my legs for Kejriwal". When I was told that I "open my legs" for Kejriwal (the week before that it was promoting me as the date for AAP politician Ashutosh for the kissing festival) and more, I asked back if it was normal for women in BJP to "open your legs" for Modi. Was that why BJP supporters kept assuming sexual favors to politicians in the actions of women who didn't support Modi?
A second tag floated by @AListRap started trending as people got angry with the content on #OpenYourLegs
And then I did what I often do to tags that bully people. How could I do any less than that for myself?
I participated the tag, disrupted it and turned its tone.
Many people were also furious. Angad Singh blogged about what had happend on The Young Indian blog.
Even BJP supporters were apalled in their own ways.
And there were a few who got uncomfortable, but couldn't bring themselves to quite say that sexualized trolling is wrong, but still thought it should not be done because it gives "publicity" to me. Yeah. Strategy backfiring is a problem. Abusing women should be fine.
Rattled trolls made me a target of a solid 3 day campaign of sleaze. The quote "open your legs" which was quoted originally from an accusation leveled at me (by a female profile) became a meme. Tweets ranged from the mundane "hey bitch #openyourlegs" to elaborate poems, jokes and more.
The tag continues to get criticism
But it isn't only me. Every woman with a real profile who criticises BJP meets this treatment sooner or later and at the same time from a horde of handles. Yesterday it was Sonakshi Sinha (who happens to be the daughter of Shatrugan Sinha - a BJP leader currently not kowtowing to high command) and Sonam Kapoor. But it is pretty normal for those who dislike BJP to face such attacks.
This is what you end up participating in, when you believe you are oh so defending. Because you're the cannon fodder to be fed information selectively so you will participate in a hostile mob. Whether you want to be used or not is your headache.
The abusive tweets are always made from anonymous profiles, they always defend BJP and they are never asked to exercise caution by any real BJP profile. The strategy of deniable bullying reaping profits for the party continues and it will continue till the masses decide that this is not acceptable for us.
It is not acceptable for me. I will not be intimidated into silence.
In any case, you, your shift and your overtime cannot shut me up.