Thursday, April 18

What Online Trolls Targetting Natasa Stankovic Tell Us About Our Treatment of Women

The online harassment faced by cricketer's wives like Anushka Sharma and Natasha Stankovic. exposes a deep-rooted issue of sexism.

The recent online abuse directed at Natasa Stankovic, wife of cricketer Hardik Pandya, following Mumbai Indians’ poor performance in the IPL, is a deplorable but unsurprising incident. It exposes a deep-seated issue within Indian society – our casual acceptance of misogyny disguised as cricketing passion.

When Performance Becomes Personal

Anushka Sharma, wife of Indian cricket captain Virat Kohli, has been a target for years. Her every social media post is dissected during Kohli’s batting slumps. The narrative often revolves around her being a “distraction” or a symbol of “bad luck.” This is not only disrespectful to Sharma but also reinforces the archaic notion that women are somehow responsible for men’s failures.

This isn’t an isolated incident. Sagarika Ghatge, wife of former cricketer Zaheer Khan, and Sanjana Ganesan, wife of cricketer Jasprit Bumrah, have also faced similar harassment online. The message is clear: a husband’s on-field performance is a reflection on his wife’s character or even her ability to “manage” her man.

Beyond the Cricketing Fanatic

These attacks expose a societal problem, not just a flaw within cricket fandom. They expose the ease with which we resort to sexism when emotions run high. It demonstrates that for many men, women – particularly those associated with successful men – are easy targets for online vitriol.

This type of trolling isn’t limited to cricketers’ wives. It’s a problem faced by women in all walks of life – actresses, journalists, politicians. It’s a way to silence dissenting voices and control the narrative.

Time to Rethink the Rules of the Game

The BCCI, the governing body of cricket in India, needs to take a stronger stance against online abuse. Social media platforms must be held accountable for creating a safe space for users and for effectively managing online harassment.

But more importantly, we, the fans, need to change the game. We need to call out sexism when we see it. We need to understand that a cricketer’s wife is just that – his wife. Her life and social media presence are independent of his professional performance.

Anushka Sharma, Natasa Stankovic, and countless other women deserve better. Let’s hold our cricketers accountable for their game, but let’s also hold ourselves accountable for the kind of online environment we create. The spirit of the game deserves better than this.

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