Why blame the boys? Locker rooms are everywhere

Krittika Biswas is a software engineer and is passionate about writing. She enjoys reading, watching Netflix, travelling, playing the ukulele and getting into heated debates. She really believes that the world would be a much better place if everyone just was a bit more compassionate and understanding.

Krittika Biswas: The recent incident of the infamous “Bois Locker Room,” where supposedly a group of teenage boys had made lewd sexual remarks about their fellow classmates, to the extent of gangrape, has recently taken social media by storm. Narratives were written, every news channel covered it, and everyone condemned the incident in every way possible. Phrases like “rape culture,” “patriarchy,” “toxic masculinity” were thrown around freely. They were, in turn, countered with “not all men,” “don’t generalize,” and as a final blow screenshots from a group chat called “Girls Locker room,” where allegedly a group of young women spoke of their male counterparts in a similar way. But what are we dealing with exactly? Why must we turn this into the age old, albeit more grave, fight between the two sexes? What does rape culture even mean? And most importantly, why don’t we, as citizens of the world, put in a bit more thought and research before pointing fingers at each other?

For the sake of some context, let us rewind a bit. The incident supposedly involved a message chain between a group of boys between the ages 15yrs to 17yrs who morphed photos of their female classmates, passed sexually explicit remarks, and even spoke of gang raping someone. In short, the ingredients to a sensational story highlighting how deep rooted patriarchy is that even such young children are affected by it. However the more we dig, the more we realize the different layers to this story. In quite a shocking and unprecedented turn of events, Delhi Police’s Cyber Crime Unit has revealed that the conversation was in fact between a minor girl and a minor boy. The girl created a fake account, used “Siddharth” as a fictitious name and started the conversation with the boy. In the chat, she went on to suggest a plan to sexually assault herself, to which the boy declined, as is evident by the screenshots. The apparent purpose was to “test the values and character” of the boy in question. The receiver then took a screenshot of the conversation and circulated amongst his friends, one of whom uploaded it on Instagram, from where it spread like wildfire. So in essence there was no horrific “bois locker room” conversation after all.
This was closely followed by another unrelated yet horrific incident, in which a 17 year old boy took his life after he was accused of sexually assault by his classmate on social media.

The boy was allegedly harassed and threatened relentlessly by others, and no one seemingly wanted to listen to his side of the story. Seeing no other way out, and completely at his wits end, he decided to end his life. Let that sink in. A seventeen year old, driven to killing himself because he was accused and hunted for something that was not proven yet. Seems to defeat the whole purpose of “Innocent until proven guilty” doesn’t it? All of this, is by no means, in support of sexual or gender violence. There is no doubt, that even in the 21st century we face a gross difference in every way between the two sexes. It has been proven time and again, that women make less money, face a higher percentage of gender specific crime, whether sexual, physical, domestic or otherwise, and are still considered the weaker or “fairer” sex. Everyday we hear gruesome news of female infanticide, minor rape, and other such horrific crime. However, there is really no point in mindless ineffective blame games. It only takes focus away from the real problem, and in some, more grave incidents, it might cost someone their life.

We, absolutely must fix this at a grass root level. We are surrounded by media, movies, comedians, singers, and other public figures that normalize objectification of women. Society has conditioned us to think that men must be more powerful, they cannot cry, they need to be crude; while women on the other hand are more docile, gentle, and well mannered. It is hypocritical for us to cry and throw a fit over the behavior of these children, when to be fair, they just mimic what they see in the adults that surround them. Even in “normal” households, girls are told to dress modestly, come back home on time, be gentler, learn to cook, be “lady like;” while the boys are given a free pass to do as they wish. Chores and manners should not be gender specific! Ever! I mean, cooking is a life skill for gods sake! This is the root cause for “Rape Culture,” these small differences snowball out of control. It is not just education, or social status. To bring true change, we must uphold the true essence of feminism, which is equality. Notions like these don’t just lower the status of women in society, it also rears its ugly head in the form of male depression and other mental health problems.

Expressing emotions is healthy not “girly!” Rape has become so prevalent in our country that we have been desensitized to a chilling extent. We read the newspapers, nod our heads in mild disappointment and move on with our lives. When, in fact, we should be rattled to our bones over crimes so ghastly. We share these stories on social media, and denounce them, and are met with a strange mixture of support and an equal number of “not all men,” “men are also victims,” rendering the whole thing pointless. The flip side to these vast number of sexual crimes is also the somewhat easy targets that men have become to false accusations. Everyone deserves to have their story heard, it should never be gender specific. It is high time, we get our act together. The human race has dominated the world through its intelligence. So being the intellectually superior ones, isn’t it about time we let go of old notions and embrace new ones? Why can’t we come together, enforce stricter laws, raise children with better ethics, and become a society of equals? As John Lennon said “You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one. I hope someday you’ll join us, and the World will live as one”

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