Ahimsā (अहिंसा) is a Sanskrit term meaning not to injure or do no harm, a missing trait amongs many Indian men who are well-known for their patriarchy, sexism, misogyny, sexual violence, physical assault, stalking, harassment and the generally abusive way they treat Indian women. Sadly, the FOSS world is no exception and some men from the local Indian Foss communities have sent me abusive private messages, death threats, unsolicited messages asking personal questions, and a lot more. When I started volunteering in Foss in January 2005, I noticed a pattern over the years - this unique brand of sexist misogyny is reserved for the Indian woman living in India. Within the FOSS communities that I am familiar with, I have not seen an Indian man harass a white woman (including those who pass off as one) within the Foss communities, nor do they harass Indian women (or WOC) living outside India. Hence, for those Indian men who feel the urge to harass in private, here is a compilation on avoidable online behaviours and a general guide to avoid being a jerk online and/or in real life!

Privacy & Public Shaming

My first-hand experience with the negative behaviour within the Indian Foss community has made me rethink the privacy policy that these jerks exploit, namely, abuse in private, then loudly invoke their privilege to claim that their "Right to privacy!" was destroyed by the woman who dared to speak up and go public with their abusive behaviour. Psychological manipulation is a very common and old tactic used to silence the victim (usually a women) from speaking up against abusive behaviour. Well, your right to privacy is not absolute, rather, it is a privilege inherent with responsibility - a right you enjoy as long as its not abused, mis-interpreted or twisted to enable you to harass in private and stalk women online and into silence. Women speaking up against your abuse, even if done in private, is NOT public shaming! AFAIK, there is no law that prohibits women from speaking up against abuse, private or otherwise. Off-list private messages that are abusive and trollish will be publicly published or redirected to the respective public mailing lists.

Indic Vs. English

In the past, some Indian men have sent me emails in various Indic scripts, then got abusive when I didnt reply in their favorite Indian script. Given that India has 800+ languages, I know a very limited number of Indic scripts, so DONT write private emails asking personal questions in multiple Indic scripts - it unwecome behaviour whether you use the Queen's English or an Indic script. Besides, Foss != dating site, so if you are looking for love, casual friendly chats, or something else, you are at the wrong place. My preferred online communication language is English!

Agree To Disagree

Women exist everywhere and FOSS communities have women participating in various roles, so your paths will cross online, within various Libre spaces. This is not a license or an invitation to vehemently insist on winning every argument because she dared to disagree with your opinion or point-of-view (POV) online.

  • DONT be the ubiquitous sexist-jerk who sends death threats and spams via off-list emails (including IRC PM's).
  • DONT stalk women who disagreed with you inorder to intimidate them into silence, take revenge or try to teach her a lesson and induce fear tactics to subjugate her into silence.
  • DONT indulge in the character assassination of any Indian women, or claim she has ulterior motives in defaming the Indian man when she speaks up about the patriarchy, sexism, misogyny, sexual violence, physical assault, stalking, harassment and the generally abusive way Indian society treats half its population - Women!
  • DONT spread rumors about the Indian woman's motives, indulge in name calling or cyber-stalk her. These will hardly convince her of your POV and the name calling and cyber-stalking is the fastest way to convince her what she already knows - that, you are indeed a first-class jerk!

Its only in Indian movies that stereotypes exist and the actor gets away with being a creep - in real life women will block and avoid the creep alltogether. Most importantly, dont feign surprise when your average fellow Indian male friend indulges in this crappy behaviour. Instead of being a silent spectator, or worse, telling women to shut up, tell HIM to STOP being THAT GUY!

The GOI has statutes for Cyber-Crime and it has amended the Indian Penal Code (IPC) Criminal Law vide an Ordinance in 2013.[1]

Diversity : WIT & FOSS

I abhor flame-wars disguised as "Why Diversity?" and the needless baiting that occurs in "Women-In-Tech" discussions, a guise used to harass women (sometimes in private discussions). This is an unproductive time-sink in Foss communities where the ratio of women core-devs is dismal - when women rarely participate in Foss projects their chances of becoming a core-dev is almost nil, helping the status-quo continue. The same goes for flame wars on editors, programming languages or its syntax, frameworks, OS wars, etc.. on mailing lists. You are entitled to your opinion, so feel free to keep the discussion in the public space and do not send me private messages to argue your point vehemently and endlessly. That said, read this blog post on getting started with contributions to Libre-FOSS projects if you want to volunteer, then direct your question(s) to the respective mailing list, IRC channel or any other public forum. Community responses increase collaboration and indirectly benefit other people with similar objectives. Besides, a larger number of people from around the world are online 365x24x7 and they will be able to help you faster than I can in private.

Spam

  • Social Network :: I have never had a Facebook account (and dont intend getting one), so dont send me any FB invites or random social network invites. My lack of interest in joining every social networking site out there does not give you the right to spread rumors about me and/or make assumptions about my social life.
  • Jobs :: I am currently not looking for a new job so unless I know you personally, please dont spam me with resume or chat requests (this request is especially for those mass-mails from recruiters) as they will be ignored. If we have never met, yet have common aquaintances, copy them on the email you sent to me. This tells me that you are not harvesting emails and randomly spamming folks online.

Resources

Other people have contributed their time an effort in to making some excellent and very useful fundamental guides to social behaviours, so do take some time to read through these links:

Thanks for reading!


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All contents here are liable to change with the right to add, delete, modify data being reserved by the Author.

Notes

[1] The Ammendment is available as a Gazette notification dated 03-Feb-2013 , which made stalking (including cyber-stalking) a criminal offence as per clause 6 section on "Stalking" 354D, that clearly states "whoever monitors the use by a person of the internet, email or any other form of electronic communication, or watches or spies on a person in a manner that results in a fear of violence or serious alarm or distress in the mind of such person, or interferes with the mental peace of such person, commits the offence of stalking." Here is a Press Information Bureau release of the gazette notification.