By Maya Palit
Scaachi Koul, a culture writer at Buzzfeed, has written a book of essays in which she talks about everything from taking on vicious trolls to her parents being madly over-protective, and her mixed feelings over her cousin’s arranged marriage.
While large sections of One Day We’ll All Be Dead and None of this Will Matter begin to ramble, particularly the parts in which Koul tries to disprove exoticising myths about India, she has a frank and to-the-point section on online harassment and date rape.
There is a bit where she talks about her experiences as a teenager in the murky world of Nexopia, which she describes as a ‘Canadian knock-off of MySpace’. She remembers the harassment (she only called it that later) she faced from unknown men who took it upon themselves to be cleavage police. But even more bizarre is the effect of Nexopia on her school friends:
Schoolyard squabbles became hyperaggressive feats of manipulation on Nexopia. Girls would catfish each other, pretending to be a cute boy from a nearby school. (No need to use your real name on Nexopia.) Boys would receive a PG-13 text from a girl and share it with each other, creating little vortexes of mini-scandals. Worse, perhaps, was Nexopia’s rating system, in which your profile pictures were automatically fed into a slideshow where anyone on the site could rate your hotness on a scale of 1 to 10. Just a few thousand thirteen- to eighteen-year-olds leaving each other messages about how fat and/or fuckable you were.
Koul also talks about the first time she was roofied, when she was just about 18, and uses it to begin a candid conversation about date rape culture and the misconceptions surrounding it. Often, she says, it’ll be an innocuous enough beginning, just a few drinks, and it won’t be from men who drive around with chloroform and duct tape. She recalls almost passing out in the loo, and how a woman, also a stranger, rescued her that evening:
Outside the door, a woman heard me fall, and she came in and picked me up. She asked me what my name was and where I lived and I don’t remember telling her anything. She carried me out front, through a snowbank, and into a cab. The guy who had spent the night with me, who was running around the bar trying to find me, rushed up before she could close the door. “Wait,” he said, “she’s with me. I’ll take her home.”
The woman turned to him, blocking me from his view. “Okay,” she said. “What’s her name?”
My name is difficult enough for the sober, for people I have known for years, never mind a stranger at a bar, someone who I do not think ever asked me what my name was. He backed off immediately, and the woman handed my cab driver some money and put my seatbelt on for me. “Take her straight home and make sure she gets inside,”she said. “And if you don’t, I will find out, because I’m a lawyer.” I woke up the next morning on my kitchen floor in my penguin pyjama bottoms.