Girl stand-up takes on sexism, gets trolled

Girl stand-up takes on sexism, gets trolled

A male comedian is blocked after she complains

 Pooja Vijay performed at an Amnesty International event earlier this week. DH photo by Ajmal.

Looks like online trolls are here to stay and women are, surprisingly, at the receiving end most of the time. The most recent case in Bengaluru is that of Pooja Vijay, a stand-up comedian, who was trolled online for questioning sexism in her profession. 

She was trolled, abused, and even threatened legal action. After slipping into depression in the beginning, Pooja successfully managed to overcome the depression and emerged strong. She tells Metrolife how she managed to so.   

What was the beginning like?

The continuous abuses started two months ago and went on for a while. I happened to see a comedian using bad language against women online. So, I just posted a question: How can the comedy industry which claims to be a safe space for women work for this person? Soon after one space banned him. And that’s when the abuses started. People started saying I make false accusations and I always spread false news. After one week of spreading rumours, abuses and threatening of filing defamation cases against me, they accused me of making false accusations against several others.

What was your response to them?

For a week, I was crying all the time and wasn’t able to sleep or eat. I stopped going out of my house for two weeks. When I noticed a post about my earlier job, I mailed my ex-employers to make them aware of these accusations that were doing the rounds. People called my show venues, telling them not to work with me, so I had to explain my side of the story.

How did you overcome all the abuse?

I am still upset about it. I contacted all the other people who underwent similar experiences before me. They all suggested that I leave it and engaging with these abusers was a wasting of time, unless I planned to take legal action. My family and I were scared for two weeks, but now I have managed to overcome that fear. Now, there are comedians who hesitate to work with me.

Have you seen any pattern in online trolls?

Apart from threatening to file a defamation case against me and using abusive language, some people alleged that I was fired from my previous job. They also spread rumours, saying that I am known for these things. All these comments came out of the blue. Unlike the others who were trolled online, I made no controversial comment on any government or any other person. I am amused to see the flush of the abuses at one go.

What is your advice to people who get trolled?

My advice is that you need to let go. You cannot directly sit and fight with them. Either you go to court or make Facebook community standards very strict. According to Facebook, most of the abusive words are not violating by their community standard. A legal or official channel should take care of these abusers on social media.

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