Rape Threats Against Comedian Agrima Joshua Show How "Thugs" In Society Refuse To Tolerate Opinionated Women

Why is it so difficult and unacceptable to become a woman comedian in India? Why can't a woman comedian crack political jokes? A video that could've been received with a punchline by the audience, brought her threats, abuses and social media hate campaigns.

India   |   14 July 2020 3:02 PM GMT / Updated : 2020-07-15T09:23:06+05:30
Editor : Shubhendu Deshmukh | Creatives : Abhishek M
Rape Threats Against Comedian Agrima Joshua Show How Thugs In Society Refuse To Tolerate Opinionated Women

Social media has provided space to people to voice their opinions for a cause or oppose anything they dislike. However, over time, this tool has become a platform for people to abuse, shame, and bully those they disagree with or sometimes just because it hurt their ego.

Sometimes, people even go to an extent where they threaten a woman with rape, under the name of free speech.

Recently, an online bully threatened to rape a stand-up comic Agrima Joshua over a comment she made during a show more than a year ago. Joshua took a dig at some of the claims made about a proposed statue of Maratha king Chhatrapati Shivaji.

Agrima's video had nothing offensive about Shivaji. The comedian in fact made a point, when she questioned the building of a massive statue for the Maratha king using funds that can be put to judicious use somewhere else.

But her point and her punchline were lost. Why? Because she happens to be a woman, that too, in this toxic patriarchal society. In a society where females are asked to keep quiet when they question the system, social structure or even men, Agrima boldly put out her opinions in front of an audience.

Agrima Joshua is just another woman with an opinion. She is a woman who 'needs to be taught a lesson' for speaking up, questioning and mocking something.

The online mob ensured misrepresentation of the content, claiming that Joshua was ridiculing Shivaji, rather than just mocking the absurd claims made by supporters of the statue.

Brazenly putting out a video on social media, Shubham Mishra, the young boy threatened the girl on social media, in front of millions of people. In the video, after speaking cuss words for about 20 seconds, the social media influencer and YouTuber abused comedian Agrima Joshua and threatened to rape her for allegedly insulting Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj. The video has two lakh views.

Shubham was arrested by the Vadodara City Police on 12 July for uploading the abusive video which he later deleted from his social media.

But is Shubham Mishra alone who has the audacity to threaten women on a social media platform? Certainly not, Shubham is India's rape culture in a nutshell.

The online mob has often ridiculed people, however, woman comedians have more or less always remained under the scanner. It wasn't surprising to see how Agrima's comments on the Maratha king drew more outrage than the RAPE threats to her.

Why is it so difficult and unacceptable to become a woman comedian in India? Why can't a woman comedian crack political jokes? A video that could've been received with a punchline by the audience, brought her threats, abuses and social media hate campaigns.

The threats forced Joshua to issue an apology for her 'behaviour' and take down the 'offensive' video.

Let alone how free speech is specific to gender, this incident in particular proves yet again that there is no safe space for a woman in India, even virtually. Women with political, religious, social views on social media are no more strangers to rape or death threats.

Shubham Mishra, whose Instagram bio reads 'bekhauf bindaas bebaak', did not think twice before hurling the vilest of abuses at not only Agrima Joshua but also her mother and sister. His lack of fear about describing in detail how he would rape Agrima to 'teach her a lesson' is very much proportional to how Agrima's apology makes him realise how he was successful in overpowering her and also in demanding an apology.

While comedians like Kunal Kamra and actor Swara Bhasker came out strongly against Shubham Mishra's video, and the National Commission for Women wrote to the Gujarat police to take action against the man, the damage, in a way, was already done.

Shubham Mishra has already motivated men who think they can abuse women, in the name of free speech and also bully them if they go out of 'their limits'. The youth made crude remarks about a female comedian while sitting in his car and casually hurling threats, all in the name of voicing the truth.

The constant abuse, women in different fraternities encounter on a daily basis, not only breaks them mentally and emotionally but also possess the potential to instil fear in their minds. This may lead to a woman artist giving up her career fearing men who think they do not deserve to speak up.

In the apology video uploaded after much criticism and little shame, Mishra, who calls himself the "voice of the people", blamed netizens for misinterpreting his intentions. He claims that people are "on the wrong track" and says that he did not issue a rape threat to Joshua. "Take offence, abuse, repeat," something that worked definitely in favour of the 26-year-old, who, just like other men, feels he did nothing wrong.

Shubham Mishra has a plethora of fans who appreciate him for bringing out the truth. However, these people become intolerant when Joshua cracks a joke about the utilisation of funds for a better cause than on building statues. If this is not because of her gender, what else would it be?

There are thousands of men who have the audacity to do the same as Shubham, because social media has often given the space, in the name of 'voicing out opinions'.

Also Read: Gujarat: 26-Yr-Old Arrested Over Rape Threat To Comedian Agrima Joshua

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Navya Singh

Navya Singh

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