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The ‘Bois Locker Room’ Chat Exposes A Deeper Rot That Comes From Gender Stereotyping And Years Of Social Conditioning

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Sexual crimes against women aren’t new to us; we are very well aware of their existence. Not just that, most women have experienced some sort of assault at least once – from being groped at a concert or in public transport to being sent unsolicited dick pics. Apart from rape, there are several ways a woman is treated as nothing but a sex object but all of it comes from penis-proud men who like to feel a sense of power by violating the consent of a woman. Consent is the word here that turns things around, and also the exact word that men refuse to grasp. They deem themselves of superior intellect, even go on to mansplain you, try to hog all the credit at the workplace. But what happens when it comes down to understanding consent?

We are more familiar with this than with our own bodies. Ever since we learn to speak coherent words, our parents have been warning us of the vultures that inhabit the world outside. Sometimes, those vultures have been lurking in the dark corners of our own homes but we are often not told that. And some of us find that out the hard way and in a manner that scars us for life, to say the least. So we as women grow up guarding our breasts with our bags and our overall modesty by avoiding any eye contact. We stop ourselves from living our life because that would mean being exposed to the virus that’s called sexual assault. This virus can be found anywhere in dark alleys, clubs, workplaces, your own home, and now as we found out – in boys’ locker rooms.

Young teens around 14-17-year-olds have been sharing nudes of girls, making derogatory comments on them and blatantly expressing their desire to violate them on this Instagram group called Bois Locker Room. That’s their idea of pleasure, which sounds like they are one opportunity away from becoming rapists. They also went ahead and morphed pictures of young girls thus creating nudes that didn’t even exist. Isn’t this violation of consent and digital rape? They stripped several girls of their dignity, some of those who sent their nudes to some of these boys, naively assuming they could trust them. And there, with not a shred of moral fibre in their bones, these guys have been hacking accounts of women who have spoken up against this monstrosity.

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SWIPE LEFT TO READ MORE • Boys' locker room talk is nothing new. It’s something that men are weirdly proud of. A group where they make sexist jokes, share ‘steamy’ pictures of women, do their ‘manly’ sports talk and celebrate toxic masculinity. There’s nothing wrong with having a group with all your male friends but it’s utterly horrifying that boys as young as 16 are finding it completely okay to use this space to objectify bodies of women (some underage), make inappropriate remarks, and pass rape threats like it’s nothing. Now, before you come at me shouting #NOTALLMEN, have some empathy and shame. Because every single woman I know has gone through this. Sit back and reflect. HOW TO TALK ABOUT WOMEN IN YOUR ‘ALL BOYS’ GROUP – Sanjana Singh (@_sanjanasays) (since a lot of men find it difficult to exist in these groups without passing disgusting comments on women’s bodies, this might help) DO NOT share private photos that someone might have shared with you in confidence. DO NOT pass around the phone numbers of your female friends without asking them first. Try and compliment women without making disgusting remarks about their breasts. It must be hard given some of you are grossly obsessed about a body part. DO NOT share pictures of underage women. DO NOT (I cannot believe I have to write this down) express your wish to rape anyone. Get yourself checked. DO NOT share sexist memes/jokes. Really, if your whole sense of humour depends on degrading jokes, you got to get a life. CALL PEOPLE OUT when they share something inappropriate. You are complicit even if you’re not actively participating. APOLOGIZE and ACKNOWLEDGE when you’re called out instead of finding ways to get back at those who called you out. #boyslockerroom #women #groupchat #live #stepstodo

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Violation of consent, fraud, objectification of women, derogatory language, and suppression of women with a voice and opinions – checks all boxes of misogynists, ready to be unleashed into a world already filled with their kind. But what truly scares us and leaves us disoriented is their tender age. It is shocking that this behaviour is coming from boys, most of whom are not even legally adults. Where are they coming from? Unfortunately, they are born from us, our society, and the social script we’ve been sticking to for centuries.

Most of these sexual perpetrators don’t feel singled out. Instead, they feel part of group norms, of a culture, like in this case, of our society in large and their group chat, microscopically. Since forever, men are believed to have the role of pursuers of sex and women, the gatekeepers. In Victorian times, it was believed that men have biologically no control over their sexual urges. And while that was probably made to go viral by a group of men who didn’t want to keep it in their pants, it is possibly where the cringey ‘men will be men’ phrase comes from justifying all of their fuckery. Combine that with gender inequality and a superiority complex in men, they are all excited to exert their power on women by pursuing sexual pleasure forcefully. Because we all know, sex is rarely about sex; it is about power.

All of it comes down to gender stereotypes – which unfortunately begins as soon as the child is born. Girls are given everything pink and everything with glitter on it. They are already told what they are supposed to be: caregivers, domesticated, and attractive. Boys, on the other hand, are told by their parents to toughen up. They are told that boys don’t cry. They too are assigned characteristics: aggressive, dominating, and unemotional. These guys are taught that being emotional and sensitive shows weakness and at the same time, these qualities are assigned to women, implying that women are inferior and weaker than men. On the other hand, guys have been denied the opportunity to develop their conscientiousness and if you ask any guy, he will probably deem this thought itself as lame.

These little kids then grow up confused and trying to make whatever meaning out of these gender stereotypes handed over to them when they are too little to even hold their own spoon. Research indicates that these kids, who are apparently too fixated on gender stereotypes perform poorly in their studies as adolescents. Research also says that such boys are more likely to become sexual assaulters and indulge in groping and sexual objectification of women, the way these young boys have been treating girls like a set of tits.

Strong adherence to these heteronormative behaviours makes these guys believe that they are supposed to be rash, insensitive, and entitled to sex because you know ‘boys will be boys’. These are the same guys who also believe that women owe it to them. They feel like women exist in flesh and blood so they can ogle at our bodies, to say the least, and if an opportunity is given, exploit us to fulfil their thirst for power.  They have grown up in a society, constantly watching women being played down by men, even in their own homes. They have grown up seeing sexism as acceptable and normalised by their own parents. These guys have grown up to see women stepping down and taking inferior roles.

In fact, some women even wrote to me saying how it is also wrong to defame these young boys on social media. They justified that they are too young and now no educational institutions would like to admit them. They said this ruins their future and maybe, there could have been corrective measures that don’t involve publicly shaming them. So, should we wait until they go rape someone? We as a society have been dismissing sexual misconduct as “not that big a deal”. But speak to the girls whose pictures were leaked. Speak to the girls who made their accounts private. For them, it is quite a big deal and it should be for each one of us. We should cause an uproar because they deserve every bit of difficulty they are going to face in their life now.

Of course, gender bias too begins at home. On the most basic level, we as a society have been so busy telling our daughters to be out of harm’s way, we forgot to tell our sons to not be the harm in the first place. This social script is so deeply embedded in our system that anyone who does anything that doesn’t comply with the script is seen as the offender. Women are supposed to be there to serve men, our social script suggests. When that doesn’t happen, these gender-stereotypes abiding guys see these women as offenders and seek revenge – which is when acid is thrown, nudes are leaked online, revenge rapes happen. It is also why these locker room boys hacked the accounts of women who spoke up against them.

ALSO READ: Screenshots Of This Group Chat On Instagram Expose Young Boys From Delhi Discussing Girls, Their Bodies And Rape Threats. This Is So Worrying

With so many years of social conditioning, these guys grow up with the silver spoon of penis pride and a lack of respect for women. I am not justifying their behaviour. What I am trying to say here is that they may be charged for their crimes but will that prevent other crimes from happening? Will it help the crimes that go unreported, undiscovered? Will that help establish equality and reverse the damage caused by these norms? Not unless we get rid of gender stereotypes that do nothing but restrict men from evolving into not-so-crappy human beings and women from being able to reach their full potential.

ALSO READ: Tanushree Dutta Voices Her Protest For Ganesh Acharya’s Behaviour And Urges The Industry To Boycott Him. We Hope Some Real Change Takes Place This Time

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