Last year in January, I presented a paper at the Indian Association of Women’s Studies National Conference in which I shared the preliminary observations and findings of my PhD research study. The topic of my PhD research is Indian Women’s Political Space And Gender Trolling. I am sharing below the power point presentation I used to present my paper.

My autoethnographic research is aimed at understanding how Indian women with political views are slowing being pushed away from the social media space due to online trolling and harassment. The research is based upon my personal experiences of using internet for the last 15 years, and how it evolved and changed and became more and more violent. The three key observations I presented in this paper are as follows:

  1. Trolling is more severe than how it is perceived by mainstream media. Everybody keep hearing about trolling, it has become normal now. But few academic or journalistic study have been done to fully understand the lived experience of the women who face trolling. On the outside we appear strong and are applauded by our followers and peers for being brave but the mental trauma we go trough is ours alone. We have to find ways to cope with it collectively.
  2. It is only the symptom but not the disease – Severe trolling culture is symptomatic of the global rise of far right political parties and in Indian context, rise of Hindu nationalism on digital sphere which Rohit Chopra has called the ‘virtual Hindu Rashtra’ (2019) and post-truth politics. There are some key features which are unique to Hindu nationalists who troll liberal secular voices which are not easily found on the other side of the political spectrum. I argue that trolling culture was not so prevalent until this group whom Sagarika Ghosh and Ram Guha has labelled “Internet Hindu” started this phenomenon. It is now being used by others too, but not as coordinated as the Hindu IT cell does.
  3. In the age of ‘big data analytics’ both platforms like Twitter and political groups profit from trolling even as women, particularly those with political opinions or ambitions, feel isolated, traumatized and struggle alone. 

Please view the slideshow for more.

If you want to participate in the research, if you want to share your experience of being trolled for your political views please fill out this survey form

If you want to know more about the research or want to be part of it, feel free to reach out.

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