The internet can be a mean place to be, especially if you refuse to conform to society’s standards and expectations. While we all love our content creators, they receive their due share of not-so-constructive criticism on social media. It would be great if the hate stops there, but it does not. It spills into their personal lives, and goes beyond just their social media identities. They are ruthlessly called out, trolled, made memes of, and let’s not forget the ugly DMs.
In a recent incident, Instagram content creator Gaurav Sitoula (@gauravsitoula_) was at the receiving end of all of this. Why? He made videos of himself dancing.
After all, Instagram is just a place to express yourself, showcase your talents to the world. But when Gaurav started to “act like a girl”, he received flak for dancing his heart out. When we saw his videos, we saw one thing– he's an amazing dancer! But, several sexist meme pages saw something else; they called him feminine, a woman, a girl, questioned his masculinity, and even went on to attack his sexuality. By the end of the day, the verdict was in: he’s acting like a woman, so he’s not masculine, and definitely gay.
Shady as it might be, some controversies can have a silver lining. And it was another content creator who lovingly creates funny content on Instagram, Shivam Arora (@sarorahere), who called these pages out. He not only made a case for the young content creator, he also pointed out how such meme pages become breeding grounds for toxic masculinity and homophobia. The world is getting uncomfortable with men who don’t “act like a man”. To that, Shivam says, “Make them more uncomfortable”.
Since Shivam took a leap and decided to quash the internet’s claims on how men who are not “masculine enough” are not necessarily men, and by extension homosexual, he received flak in his comments. When one user pointed out that Guarav is probably using all these memes to hone his popularity, Shivam was all for it and said it’s great if the former is making the best of the situation.
While this is just another day in the era of the internet, it is incidents like this where creators support each other that really warms our hearts. But more than that, it makes us question– why are we so obsessed with our ideas of masculinity? Anyone who tries to break this construct comes under direct fire from the world.
For a minute, if we were to believe that maybe some men are just not “masculine enough”, and that by default makes them “feminine”, what is so wrong with that? Does a man become less of a man if he’s not masculine enough? And if he does, why is it so problematic to be feminine? Maybe because femininity is the inferior one of the two?
Also, how does one’s gender identity (if we may call it so at this point), equate to one’s sexual preference? How does Gaurav’s choice of not acting a certain way implicate that he’s a homosexual? And even if he is, why is it a point of humour?
Why are we so centered on using terms like “feminine” and “homosexual” in negative contexts? Is it not time we grew up and let people decide who they really are? Is it not time we just let the world be and walk out of our snares of toxic masculinity that suppresses both men and women?
Right now, we have just two things to say: Dear Gaurav, may you never stop dancing and winning our hearts over.
Dear Shivam, thank you!