Screenshots of an Instagram group titled “Bois Locker Room” were brought to light online by a girl earlier this week. The screenshots show members of the group – comprising adolescent and young-adult boys – sharing pictures of largely underage girls with lewd and vulgar comments, editing the images, body-shaming the girls, and objectifying their private parts.c
The post was received with widespread outrage and shock, and defensive indignation from the group’s members and their friends. Numerous other derogatory “locker room” chats from all over the country have been exposed and called out, following the “bois locker room” incident.
Since a large percentage of the girls whose pictures were shared and sexualised on the group were underage, the group isn’t only morally disrespectful but also illegal. The Delhi Police has got involved in investigating the case, and the admin of the group chat has been arrested.
The Debate Isn’t About Which Gender Is To Blame
A recent update brought to light evidence that a Snapchat thread being circulated – independent of the ‘bois locker room’ case – of a boy suggesting raping a girl, was in fact the girl in question herself posing as a boy. Under the pseudonym “Siddharth” she suggested her own rape to a male friend, to gauge his response.
This revelation has managed to put an end to any constructive conversation that had been initiated around the social issues that the ‘bois locker room’ incident had exposed.
The conversation is not about which gender is committing worse atrocities. It’s not about one gender having to come out of this debate as superior to the other. We need a healthy conversation around the ‘bois locker room’ case, not to identify which gender is better or worse than the other, but to identify the customs, linguistics, educational systems, and social norms that have allowed for the creation of these harmful behaviours.
Catfishing to “gauge” someone’s “character” is wrong, but that cannot take away from the fact that so is sexually inappropriate and harassing behaviour – all things that the ‘bois locker room’ shows clear signs of.
The conversation cannot end at #NotAllMen or dismissed with a “Both genders are doing it, so why blame only boys?”. This is not a blame game. It isn’t us vs them.
It is a problem we need to tackle on a larger societal scale. It begs for a reflection and reconsideration of existing educational and cultural systems, that affect individuals regardless of gender.
Language is an integral part of culture – it reflects cultural values and attitudes, and with regular use, in turn impacts and reinforces them.
Linguistics directly and unconsciously impact perspectives and behaviours. They are a primary means of passing on cultural beliefs and behavioural archetypes.
The “conversations” in the chat are terrifying not just for the derogatory and sexually aggressive content, but for the larger cultural narratives they reflect and strengthen.
Contemplating rape, making sexist jokes, objectifying and disrespecting women, reflects more than just the boys’ perspectives. It brings to light a cultural disrespect that exists towards women and entitlement that exists for boys – most likely something the young adolescents picked up through language used by adults and peers during their formative ages themselves.
“Outing” the “bois locker room” then is more than just about one offensive chat room thread. It is about the larger patriarchal mindsets and norms it mirrors, and the ones it encourages going ahead.
A Result Of Years Of Educational Failure
The boys’ exceedingly perverse comments and casual approach to sexual exploitation comes from a continued lack of sensitisation about sex, consent, and gender equality.
The casual degrading of women for “fun” in the “locker room” is a culmination of layers of inequality and discriminatory behaviour laid down through the generations. The “locker room” talk is just another layer being added on the path to possibly even worse behaviour.
There is a need to educate children about sex, respectful behaviour and people’s autonomy over their bodies in a holistic manner that translates from theory to practice. “Boys will be boys” and expecting girls to submit to and tolerate deeply ingrained patriarchal injustices, cannot continue.
Children need safe spaces, where talking about sex and other “uncomfortable” topics in a manner that does not disrespect others, is encouraged and not shamed.
Wondering what you can do? Here are some suggestions :
- Educate children about healthy expressions of sexuality and desire, respecting boundaries and consent, and parity between genders. Do this without instilling fear or shame.
- Consciously stop using language in conversations that makes one gender appear superior to the other. Discriminatory or hurtful language, especially when passed off as a joke, normalises offensive and inappropriate behaviour.
- Call out any display of regressive attitudes, patriarchal values, and disrespect for others, in both boys and girls from a young age. Make them aware that this will not be tolerated so they don’t feel the need to tolerate the same as they grow older. Call out discriminatory and harmful behaviour so they don’t hesitate calling out the same if they experience it around themselves.
The change must take place at homes and schools itself. For now, however, to undo the years of passivity in homes and schools to herald change, social media is a good place to pick up the slack.
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