So, the scene is this:
You are walking down an aisle half packed with people and looking around at them, suddenly you feel the ground swept from below your feet and thump! You fall face first on the ground. The moment you discover the culprit, a banana peel, you burst into laughter and so does everyone else.
And another one:
You are walking down an aisle half packed with people and looking around at them, you suddenly feel foreign arms from behind and you are tasting air and being spinned. You’re scared and screaming and you can hear laughter from behind. People gawked. They did not laugh.
Would you laugh if the same happened to you? If a complete stranger picks you up & indecently touches and makes comments on your body?
The same incident had been circulated virtually in the form of a video snippet when Youth Against Rape posted a
brief yet provocative tweet on the several ways in which videos like these promote sexual harassment and gender-biased societal norms in the name of pranks. Rekha Sharma, Chairperson to National Commission for Women responded, “Will take it up with YouTube” and brought the content to an even brighter spotlight.
The month of April receives an increased amount of such prank videos. Even after YouTube’s stringent policies such as removal of content violating community guidelines, portraying sexual or physical attacks, harassment, etc., there is an incessant access, availability and mob viewership of such disturbing content under the pretext of amusement, protected by a disclaimer.
Inappropriate touching portrayed as a prank for the purpose of comedy and a quick buck does not exchange it for sexual harassment. Comedy is something which amuses us and makes us laugh but pranks are only funny as long as the person who is pranked also laughs. With digitization, platforms for inappropriate content have grown and now, with modernization of thought, we need to demolish our discriminatory comedy and redefine it with concern, sensitivity and, most importantly, inclusion.
Some of these videos remain staged and yet, the content driven out through them is not to be considered entertainment. And for the videos which aren’t staged & are posted with consent of the parties involved, the disclaimer becomes the safety net for the creators.
Internet is eternal. When we post something on the internet and it goes viral, the content in true virus-like fashion is impossible to eradicate. We don’t know who is watching it, it can be a child too. Is vulgarity of thought and behaviour the value we want to promote? Just for a few likes & views?
We, as youth, need to act now and take the pledge of neither creating nor promoting such content. We need to raise our voice or else, our silence will be taken as our consent.
~Ms. Poonam Jangir and Ms. Rashi Jain are Change Makers under the It’s Possible Campaign for Gender Equality of PHIA Foundation. Through this campaign, PHIA encourages all its Change Makers across multiple states to creatively express their views on Gender Equality and initiate discussions and engagements with people around them on gender issues. PHIA recognizes and respects the ownership of the views expressed by the author in this article.