I can’t fathom my happiness to you when the number of likes on my Facebook profile picture rise from 50 to 100 and sometimes go up to 200! There are 100s of comments from boys, from friends, telling me how pretty, how appealing, how fantastic I look. I feel like a celebrity. Even if that celebrity status is restricted to the internet and my friend list. I think every woman feels the same when attending to such recognition. Facebook is this one place where you really can be the person you want to be. So does this mean that Facebook in a way is empowering women? Does it mean that Facebook is intrinsically feminist?
While on one hand it might seem to be an interesting media to give individual women the kind of recognition they desire, there might be another perspective to look at it. Can we not say that it is just another way to make it easier for stalkers to do what they otherwise do outside the social media? Do they really need any such sort of recognition if they are getting something better than that? Men through Facebook have found an easier access to woo women they could not have possibly done in real. Can we not say that the objectification of women we stand so against for is being only reinforced here? When will it be that women themselves will stop thinking that they need to be an-object-of-desire for somebody? This is exactly the point I am trying to make. The idea of being perceived as beautiful is where the problem lies. The point that a woman needs assurance from the outside world to tell her that she is worth something is problematic. Social media like Facebook has worked less to empower women and more to deepen the stubborn roots of this stinking patriarchy. It is another source of severe social insult which is inflicted on the women.
Our society has since time immemorial nurtured this idea of desirability. In our society women are brought up to believe that they have to be perceived as beautiful and that will also increase her acceptability in the society. At the same time, she is also taught the ideas of virtues and honors related to her and how the society also needs to think that she is chaste and virtuous. She is made to think that the burden of family honor rests on her shoulders and she has to be careful about her actions. Such is the duality of our society, which leaves the women struggling between the aspects of being beautiful and being virtuous. Facebook or any other social media for that matter has played the role of another method that the society has carved out to mock at the misery of women. In one hand girls are praised and pampered for the photos that they upload on their profiles while on the other they are chided by their name being decorated with words like ‘whore’ and ‘character-less’. In fact, in a lot of criminal cases we have seen that how morphed pictures of women are posted and circulated online to defame and insult them and their families. Such is the power of social media that holds the ability to reduce women to a mere puppet played in the hands of the society. Now tell me, what do women really become, a celebrity or a victim?
By this I do not mean that Facebook is absolutely useless. While there are always two sides of a coin, of course I have to admit that Facebook has given a platform for propagation of ideas. Precisely what I am going to do after this article gets published, I am going to share it on Facebook! While propagation of good ideas takes place, we realize that we are impotent to stop the propagation of bad ideas too. Facebook today has become the easiest medium to give hate messages. Be it politics, entertainment or sports, an individual can easily be defamed within a small span of time. News on the social media travel faster than the speed of light. In fact, it has also become a source to send out false news. And it happens because, it is easy. People easily get away by doing such things. Facebook is also being used to replant the patriarchal mindset. Ideas on patriarchy (which is already so deeply imbedded in the mindset of people) are being talked about in the social media in the name of tradition and culture. While discourse always remains important, and we should not stop the propagation of any sort of ideas, dignity of individuals needs to be protected too. But then obviously we can find solutions to such problems. A proper regulation system needs to be found. We can deal with people who post wrong things on Facebook with strictness and ensure that nobody’s personal dignity is attacked on the social media. However, it will still take some time till we develop the technology to see such problems. So give it a second thought before next time you go on to say that Facebook is a place for women. This is because the men out there are getting equally benefited (perhaps more)!