Ever since screenshots of online chats between a group of South Delhi teenage boys sharing photos, and objectifying underage girls by throwing lewd and lecherous remarks at them, the society has once again be smacked in the gut with questions about upbringing and the sense of entitlement in our boys.
It all starts with these ‘casual’ locker room talks, it slowly morphs into misogyny and before we blink, rape culture stares us in the face. Is it making you uneasy? Well, it should and it was meant to make you uncomfortable, so stop looking away and pretending you are not part of this rut and accept that you too are part of the problem. So address it, confront it and change it!
We go back to the locker room talks – when the chats are exposed, the members of the group have the gall to issue threats about leaking nude photographs of the women who ‘dared’ to speak out against them. Aren’t we scared, are we this immune? What is this generation of men which we are fostering? They joke, pretend that everything is tongue-in-cheek and yet, without any face, in the dark alleys of social media where even their names are not seen, they promote this violent, extremely offensive behaviour – all under the garb of being macho men girls should drool upon.
When I spoke with my younger cousin, who is roughly around the same age, she tried to fritter away the conversation, she kept asking me 500 different things, from the COVID-19 vaccine, to when she can go back to college. Heck, she even asked me about when I’m going to get married. But, I kept pestering her and she confessed that such talks were always around. Boys around her keep passing statements and they do not even care. She confessed she was disturbed by what was happening in the last couple of days, but soon said, she had a craving for Chinese food.
In my own family, my younger sister does not feel safe. She has an audience, she has people to talk to and yet, she cannot open up. This is what we have done, this is what our sense of entitlement and ‘boys will be boys’ and all that trash has done. My sister wants to speak out, she can only blink, mutter a few sentences and then starts pretending everything is hunky-dory!
We are making monsters and they are all surrounding us and yet, we wake up, open our laptops, drink that coffee, eat that food, binge watch something and go back to sleep. Where is the discussion, why is this not in our educational system, why don’t parents, elder siblings talk to the girls and even boys who do not want to be a part of this toxic ecosystem?
And yes, girls are part of the problem too. We go back to the Bois Locker room, there were girl enablers too in the group who tried to protect their ‘coterie’ and even slut-shamed those who wanted to pull the plug on this rot. In India, where this is a massive gulf in income levels, we often tend to pigeon hole people from the lower rungs as an uncouth, uncivilised lot. Pause here and focus on the problem – the boys who were part of this group were all from South Delhi, were all from the upper echelons of society, they had money, they had clout in society and this gives a sense of entitlement, a sense of being invincible.
In India, for all the talk of equality, the man is by default considered the breadwinner of the family, the person who is kept on a pedestal and all this is just a knock-on effect. A woman is still the subordinate, the concept of consent is flimsy, marital rape is not even a concept in India, even the courts do not recognise it. Notice the chronology – a man believes he can get away with things if not noticed, he believes, he can get away with anything as long as he wields the power.
Women cease to be people – they are mere objects who also happen to have a pretty face, breasts and vagina, of course.
Alarm bells have been ringing, they are blaring now. Parents are asking their kids to stay off social media, girls are being asked to be vigilant about whom they speak to, what they post, the pictures they upload. It has slowly shifted – from offline to online and yet, we are only digressing from the issue.
What needs to be done is to incorporate sex education in our curriculum, it needs to be made a part of the daily discourse, young, impressionable minds and help them understand the black and white shades.