You don’t have to be an avid news follower to know that something outrageous has happened in the past couple of days. No, let me correct that: something outrageous has been happening in the country (and the world) for years now, a subset of which has been outed in the past couple of days. It all started on May 3 when an Instagram group chat, called Bois Locker Room, was made public.
Now, as the name might have already rung a bell, the chat was full of crude remarks and distasteful boasting on pictures of girls (some of them underage) that were being circulated and also, morphed without their knowledge. It's appalling to see and read the lewd comments, deranged fantasies about gang-raping these girls, and misogyny so deep that it would twist your guts in instant revulsion. Here are screenshots from the chat:
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Trigger warning: Vulgarity, degradation, objectification of women. . Do NOT try to tell me this is normal. You're EQUALLY responsible if you're normalizing it. . #boislockerroom #rapeculture #rapeawareness #objectification #report #boysgc #rapistmindset #antirapeculturec #vulgarity #objectification #degradation #sexualremarks #underagegirls #childsexualabuse #sexualabuse #harrasment @kuna_kamra @kushakapila @iawaken.in @takedownthepatriarchy @theanti_rapeculture @lilly @yahyabootwala @fifisdiary @heli_ved @angrybrowngal
Soon after the outing of these chats, Delhi Women's Commission (DCW) asked for an immediate probe into the matter. According to recent media reports, a 15-year-old Delhi boy has already been taken into police custody for further investigation in the case.
One of the boys who was involved in the case issued a public apology and wrote “I am sorry. I have a whole life ahead of me. I don’t want some stupid testosterone-fuelled decisions to spoil it.” And while the expression "testosterone-fuelled decisions" sounds like a sufficiently obsolete excuse, there are also those who tried to get away by a nonchalant, "But we weren't active in the group." To add to it, members from the same group also allegedly threatened girls that they'll be raped and shamed in public if they dare to out these chats.
But there's more to it. What about those who are still defending these boys despite the shouting evidence. There are those who think it's wrong to penalise school boys for something which is a common part of "locker room" talk worldwide? Remember when Trump was called out for his misogyny, comments on grabbing women by force, and then he tried to bail himself out by labeling all of that as "locker room talk?" Yeah, the situation at hand is the exact same and the "boys will be boys" narrative would just not help anymore. And no, "But they didn't actually do anything, right?" shouldn't be an excuse at all.
But wait, look at these excuses yourself:
#boyslockeroom #boyslockeroom #Metooindia— Nikita K (@AK52979491) May 4, 2020
Why is such a drama over this. They are children... law will take action but feminists are so agitated. I have never see protesting against rising fake rape cases and flood of fake domestic violence cases which destroy millions of men. pic.twitter.com/YXXmAMIrJx
Very rightly said madam.. everyone pretending as if they are being held innocent !! Law will do it's work.. not sure why this HYPER FEMINISM pops up as if they just keep waiting for such opportunities throughout the year and sleeps on issues from other side of the coin !— Ajay Daksh Prajapati (@AjayDakshPraja1) May 5, 2020
I'd write more but since all of us like it better when it's served on social media these days, here's a video by Moose Jattana where she explains everything that is fundamentally wrong with each and every argument that has been put forward to defend the lewd chats:
But again do we really need to access “locker room” chats to unmask the disgusting vein of misogyny and violence that runs deep within the country. Honestly, go check out the comments of any vocal women, feminists, or activists on Twitter. Or make it easier and go check out the kind of lewd comments that are made on someone like Saloni Chopra’s Instagram pictures while she calls out the exact same behaviour in her caption. Also, you do remember what happened with journalist and writer Rana Ayyub, actor Swara Bhaskar, and singer Sona Mohapatra, right?
Trust me, it is not about just this particular “locker room.” Among a slew of such unfathomable groups and chats, this just happens to be the one that got outed. And while most of the participants here happen to be teenage schoolboys from good Delhi families, imagine how bad it must get with those who don't come from similar privileged backgrounds and are never educated or sensitised about respecting women.
It just takes me back to a time in high school (more than a decade ago) when defending my best friend against one of her chauvinistic boyfriends led to a deranged Facebook poll. "Who's the biggest slut in the school," appeared the text on the Facebook group with my name written among three others in a convenient KBC style format. I remember breaking into a sweat the instant I saw it and how both my friends and I frantically kept texting the senior who had made the group to take it down so that the poll gets deleted. It did get deleted a couple of hours later but the horrors remained and so did the harassment. The same guy went on spreading all kinds of baseless rumors about me for years to come. But, something similar must have happened to someone else, before and after that as well and just didn't get outed in the public.
Accept it or not but every time you laughed (even with a strain of conceit) on one of those "send nudes" or "di** pick jokes," you effectively became a part of this internet misogyny, the brunt of which was faced by the women objectified on these chats.
Then again, there was another chat that got outed earlier today that went by the name of "Girls Locker Room," containing similar kind of content. And while it might have provided the "Bois Locker Room" defenders with an easy excuse and a great counter-argument, this does not absolve anyone of anything.
To start with, this is not about the gender of the perpetrator. This is about decades of misogyny that is just beginning to find a convenient release through social media. Just like men, patriarchy has its impact on women as well and this is a classic example of the same. Needless to say, we keep forgetting that two wrongs don't make a right and thus cannot be excused under any garbs of gender, social status, or anything else whatsoever.
Here are a few tweets to help you with some perspective:
#boyslockerroom a telling tale of how toxic masculinity starts young! Underage boys gleefully planning how to rape & gangrape minor girls. Parents & teachers must address this with those Kids.. Not enough to ‘hang rapists’ .. we must attack the mentality that creates rapists! https://t.co/Jw4cFQ9gXM— Swara Bhasker (@ReallySwara) May 5, 2020
This a multi-faceted problem. Because everyone is still squeamish about sex education in our populous/moralistic country, teenagers are confusing porn for sex education! And now data is free. How dangerous! This will explode in our faces in the next five years sadly,I reckon. https://t.co/mPVaXPOe6d— TheRichaChadha (@RichaChadha) May 5, 2020
Making strict laws is important but changing people's psychology is just as important.— Harsh Tripathi (@tripathiharsh02) May 4, 2020
Objectification of women must stop and it can only be done by educating youth.#boyslockeroom pic.twitter.com/7ciKHR6V5o
While the furore around #boyslockeroom is legit needed, we need a rethink in gender discourse. Rural girls &women need freedom to explore their educational &professional horizons &urban girls &women should wrap their heads around the fact that with freedom comes responsibility.— Shubhrastha (@Shubhrastha) May 4, 2020
This one is for all those who have their tongues ready to twitch, each time a 'modern' Indian woman is raped or molested in the country. It is not her clothes where the rape culture begins! It is not her lifestyle choices where the rape culture begins! It is with such deranged conversations that are often excused with age and the good, old "boys will be boys" banter that this culture begins.
The need of the hour? To nip it in the bud, hold the accused responsible, and examine the ideological fault lines associated with this mindset instead of developing counter-arguments for the same. For all those who defend it simply become a part of it, nothing more nothing less!
Featured Image: Instagram