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The News Minute | September 23, 2014 | 9.57 pm IST If there is anything that the social media have shown us, it is that the battle for justice and for rights is visible, almost tangible. At least a part of it is. The bullying and intimidation that resulted as a response to actor Emma Watson’s speech at the United Nations, was hardly surprising. Just the virtual version of what goes on in the physical world.  Dare to be a working woman? We’ll whistle at you in the street.Dare to be assertive at work? We’ll make it impossible for you to work here.Dare to speak your mind? We’ll threaten you with insults, call you by names that refer to your genitals. You get the drift. Soon after Watson made a speech about being feminist, about feminism not being about man-hating, about men and women together building a society that treats all people fairly, a bunch of virtual hooligans threatened to leak her nude photographs online. The message was clear. Challenge the stereotype you were assigned and you will learn exactly how ugly we can make things for you. Until the speech, Watson was just another pretty face with a sexy body and these virtual goons were happy with that. But the minute she spoke her mind, they turned against her, and they too received quite a bit of support. Why is it that the threats against women so often become sexual in nature? Either verbally or physically, there is often a sexual component. Why did the bullying aimed at Watson take on a sexual colour?  These are questions that people are asking, not just in the case of Emma Watson, but for anyone else like her who spoke their minds.  It would be a good time to mention an Indian actor who faced a somewhat similar situation. Deepika Padukone drew a lot of flak for her remarks on Facebook criticising The Times of India’s justification for a story it ran on her. Whether or not Padukone is a champion of the feminist cause, she does not deserve to be treated as someone “who asked for it”. Neither does Watson, or anyone else for that matter. Read: Times of India takes the fight with Deepika Padukone to a new level, accuses actress of hypocrisy in its reply As the insults, threats, intimidation and calls to go home and cook flood the social media space of a person who has dared to defy the socially assigned stereotype, there appears to be an equal number of people on the side of the person under attack.  There is a battle on for justice, and it seems everybody has a side picked out.

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