Since January 8, two Indians, one who goes by online pseudonym Bruce Vain, and his partner-in-crime Sonam Mittal have been attempting to break gender stereotypes in India with an interesting campaign on social media. The dynamic duo have started a series called “Spoilt Modern Indian Women”, a crowdsourced compilation of memes that “aim to start disruptive conversations, and challenge patriachy-driven social and cultural narratives,” says Vain.
Here’s how it works: women readers were asked to submit their photos, which were converted into memes with text that started off by encouraging an existing gender stereotype, only to then smash it with an innovative plot-twist. “All text was cleared by the women who submitted their photos,” says Vain also adding that this campaigns challenge was break the infinite stereotypes that exist online, in households, at workplaces and in everyday life in general.
Soon enough, Mittal and Vain were flooded with requests from across the country — and the trend continues. “On the first day we had five entries, and we thought that was great, but now we’re getting an entry almost every hour! Women have been inspiration with their enthusiasm to participate and become agents of change,” says Mittal, who is based out of Bengaluru; Vain operates out of Delhi.
The duo admitted that, initially, they received a lot of hatred for trying to call out offensive statements and jokes. “People who made these offensive posts reported us for bullying and harassment… there was this college professor who was extremely abusive towards women on our page, and we have to contact his principal to bring it to her attention. He got together with a renowned sexist personality and started a campaign to get our page mass-reported because we were ‘trying to ruin his career’”, reveals Vain. “More recently we made a post debunking a sexist joke, only to have misogynists from as far as the UK and US call us a ‘nagging killjoy’. We learnt two things: a) sexism has no race and nationality, and b) haters are going to hate."
Vain and Mittal then resorted to fight fire with fire, or in this case, empowering inclusive humour against regressive, sexist humour. Check out their posts below and here.
The first session of ‘Spoilt Modern Indian Women’ series ended on Friday, but they'll be back for two more weeks next month. Vain and Mittal also conduct a weekly series, in collaboration with bicyclewithoutafish called 'Conditioning is for Hair, not Minds', which calls out sexism and stereotyping in advertising and other mainstream media outlets, and are scheming up more campaigns already.
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