An internet troll tried to school a lawyer on immigration. She clapped back.
Women are tired of mansplaining bullshit.
Just ask Rabia Chaudry, a critically acclaimed immigration attorney, who was live-tweeting (and fact-checking) President Donald Trump's 2018 State of the Union address on Jan. 30.
During his televised address, Trump announced his plans to protect the American "nuclear family" by clamping down further on immigration. He went on to inaccurately claim that the current immigration system allows a single immigrant to bring in an "unlimited number of distant relatives."
That's simply not true.
Image via Rabia Chaudry.
As Chaudry pointed out, while documented immigrants can sponsor their parents, spouses, and children, "distant relatives" are not eligible for residency sponsorship. (Cousins, grandparents, aunts, and uncles are considered "distant relatives.")
But of course, an anonymous person on the internet had something to say about that.
Twitter user FullMetalBitch3 replied to Chaudry claiming, without evidence, she was wrong since "chain migration has allowed sponsorships of in-laws, cousins, etc."
In response, Chaudry did not mince her words. It only took five words for an epic clapback.
"I'm a fucking immigration lawyer," Chaudry tweeted.
In a matter of minutes, the tweet went viral with hilarious (and very real) responses flooding in her mentions. And though FullMetalBitch3's gender remains unclear, the troll's behavior has reminded many people of their own encounters with "splainers," and in particular, "mansplainers."
In an interview with Upworthy, Chaudry said that she normally avoids engaging with internet trolls on Twitter — but she was on an important mission: to spread the truth.
"In a space like Twitter, we aren't always dealing with real people, we are often battling armies of misinformation bots," Chaudry said. "And while I don't believe in arguing with bots, there are people out there who are watching quietly, not sure about the truth. It's important to keep putting the truth out there for them."
There is undeniably a phenomenon of far-right trolls and some Trump supporters of refusing to accept or consider impenetrable evidence and/or facts debunking some of the misinformation and blatant lies coming from the White House. Chaudry said part of that is the Trump administration spending a "tremendous amount" of effort to undermine all forms of institutions.
"From science to democracy to media to intel, this administration is engaged in an onslaught to confuse people, create a fog of war that destroys the confidence of citizens in anything and everything," she added. "And they have many handmaidens that are instrumental in this goal — Fox, Breitbart, even the silence of the GOP itself."
If, by now, you've realized Chaudry's name sounds familiar — it should.
Through her 14 years of experience practicing immigration law and her commitment to truth, Chaudry has become a central figure to the first season of the "Serial" podcast. Her book, "Adnan's Story: The Search for Truth and Justice After Serial" is listed as a New York Times best-seller, and her podcast "Undisclosed" has more than 200 million downloads.
But her expertise and impact extends far beyond immigration law.
The 43-year-old mother is also a well-respected and prominent voice in the national security field and is the recipient of numerous prestigious awards, such as the Truman National Security Project's 2015 Harry S. Truman Award for Communications and Media Influence. Chaudry is also widely sought after as a public speaker and writer on national security, civil rights, religion, and gender, and she often trains law enforcement officers on understanding the Islamic faith.
Despite her remarkable expertise in the intersection of immigration, law, and national security, Chaudry says she still deals with the occasional moments of splaining.
And she calls the perpetrators out, particularly when they are men.
"I've learned to take up space with my body — I'm short and I wear hijab, which renders me invisible to some — and to be strongly declarative," the lawyer said. "I don't hedge much anymore, and that seems to help shut the mansplainers down."
Chaudry, who also happens to be Muslim, said that her experience is obviously not unique.
"Fake news and bots aside, I think women in general — Muslim or not, accomplished or not, expert or not) consistently are challenged by the 'but actuallys' of confident, but uninformed, men," Chaudry said. "I've learned over the years to change the language, verbal and physical, I use to help convey my expertise. Many women do couch their statements in terms that are less assertive, use body language that is not too confrontational."
But what does Chaudry say that other women and male allies can do to fight against the microaggressions of splaining?
"By doing what they did with that very basic tweet about immigration — share the voices of others," she added. "Just share, amplify, and echo. It validates the voices, opinions, expertise of those who have to fight to prove it otherwise."