Now facing online wrath by many on social media, the outrage began when an old video of a stand-up comedian, Agrima Joshua went viral. In the video, Joshua jokes about the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj’s upcoming statue in the Arabian Sea off Mumbai coast. She is seen describing the “funny things” she read on Quora about the same statue, “It will also have GPS tracker and it will shoot laser rays out of its eyes to shoot Pakistani terrorists” and “this Shivaji statue is an amazing masterstroke by Prime Minister”, were some of the things she described as what she read on the website.
A lot of people, including Sena leader Pratap Sarnaik, expressed how the Comedian’s remarks were not only insulting but also derogatory in nature. Some people also vouched for arresting her for hurting the sentiments of Marathi people. Seeing the uproar made against her on various social media platforms, Joshua made a public apology. “My heartfelt apologies to followers of the great leader, who I sincerely respect”, is what her tweet read and also deleted her video from Youtube.
What followed was a chain of threats and harassment. The venue where Joshua performed was vandalized and online campaign trollers went on to abuse and threaten Joshua with physical harm. The most significant response amongst all was that of a man called Shubham Mishra. In a video posted by the same person, which as of now has been taken down by him, the man is seen openly threatening to rape Joshua. Mishra later posted a story on his Instagram account telling him that he has deleted the same video and that his “intention” was not to threaten anybody. Later on, #ArrestBadassShubhamMishra trended on Twitter and according to a tweet by Vadodara Police, Shubham Mishra got arrested and an FIR was filed against him.
While dissent and criticism is a part of celebrating art, women often have to pay the price of using their artistic expression by getting threatened to get raped, sexually assaulted, and getting slut-shamed. Comedy is subjective, it can be offensive to some people, while others might actually find the same joke funny. What is not acceptable is threatening people to mutilate their bodies for a joke you did not find funny, threatening women to maul them in the name of hurting religious and cultural sentiments cannot be normalized. Comedians have often been under the radar of criticism for crossing the line for the sake of a joke, they have been racist, sexist, homophobic and misogynist too and in certain incidents, they have apologized for the same. The case of Agrima Joshua was no different. Yet she was found to be on the receiving front of negative comments which endanger her safety and that of her family.
We live in 2020 and even today the most appropriate form of ‘teaching women a lesson’ is to claim their bodies. We live in 2020 and yet, we find ourselves reiterating that it is not okay for you to rape or threaten to rape us. The hypocrisy of this very misogynist society can be seen when in the name of religious sentiments being hurt, a man comes forward, mentions the details of how he will rape the woman, even though no culture and no religion, the society so proudly claims to protect and serve, teach that.
Image Source – Mumbai Mirror