Maria Thattil is a writer, speaker, creator, and Miss Universe Australia. She is a passionate and vocal proponent for the empowerment of women and girls. She's long been outspoken about double standards, sexism, misogyny, and other issues, most recently in a series of Instagram posts describing her distress at being inadvertently added to a WhatsApp group of 19-year-old males and hearing what they were saying about women.
According to Maria, the men in the group treated women "like we are pieces of meat."
Only one of them reacted when she called them out on their "sexist" and "misogynistic" remarks.
"I was appalled to be added to that group chat, disgusted to read those messages, and disappointed that nobody responded when I called them out on it. Aside from one of the participants in the discussion, "she said in an Instagram Stories video.
She previously wrote for Women's Agenda about her desire to not just open doors, but also to provide spaces for the "community of dreamers" who are questioning the world as we know it to create new things possible.
Maria got a lot of responses after sharing the pictures on Instagram, detailing similar behaviour or "degrading attitudes" shown by the same group of guys against other women, particularly women of colour.
It was also claimed that the gang had previously sent nude pictures of women in the conversation and made some type of comments on them.
Maria went on to add that she has contacted the men's institutions to learn what they are doing "to safeguard women from views like these" and "how they feel about having students who use racial slurs or speak about women in this way."
Maria also received letters of encouragement from women who complimented her for "speaking up for us."
"Why these ladies haven't been able to stand up for themselves? Because our society forbids it… We are advised to stay silent and cope with it in many aspects of our lives. But I believe we must stand up for ourselves and each other."
"You absolutely don't need to be quiet." she said.