The “Boys Locker Room” incident has created a furore on social media. What started as influencers calling out a group chat where boys passed derogatory comments on women and share pictures of underage girls without consent has now turned into a full-blown discussion on male privilege, rape culture and the evils of social media in our society.
What Is The “Boys Locker Room”?
It refers to a group consisting of teenage boys of 16-18 years of age allegedly hailing from the posh districts in the Delhi NCR region. These boys are from well to do, educated families being part of the so-called upper echelons of the society.
The group chat contained conversations which objectified women and portrayed them in a derogatory manner. Additionally, the group chat also involved the sharing of pictures, sometimes even morphed ones of underage girls without their consent.
Once the group was called out for their acts, screenshots of the group chat have gone viral wherein they are threatening to release nude images of women who exposed them, as well as threatening them with violence and rape.
After the incident went viral, several users have come forward to identify the members of the group and the same has been viral on social media. The Delhi Police Cyber Cell has also apprehended a 15-year-old boy and is probing the matter.
Why The Boys Locker Room Incident Is Condemnable and What Should Guys Do About it?
The incident is wrong on so many levels that it is unfathomable. From men refusing to acknowledge their male privilege to showing their inherent patriarchy by trying to silence the women when they speak out, it shows the worst of our society.
The threats of violence and rape show us that even amongst the most educated and affluent, there’s a lot that needs to be done to ensure gender equality.
Seeing how the issue has developed over social media, I realised how many people are failing to hold the men accountable for it. From claims such as “They are just kids” or “They were sharing pictures that were already public,” it is alarming to see how we as men fail to hold responsibility for the culture we foster, via our silence and inaction.
We have all been part of groups or conversations where casual sexism or misogyny has been passed under the pretext of casual banter. Comments about women’s bodies and their choices of clothing, careers etc have been common parlance, not making us realise that such conversations are what show us the inherent male privilege we all are born with.
Irrespective of the fact whether you’ve spoken up against the issue or have stayed silent, this is a time for us to introspect our actions and thoughts as men. There are a lot of things that need to change to ensure the “Boys Locker Room” is a thing of the past and doesn’t become something our society is plagued with in the future.
Ask for a Women's Opinion
The most important, and maybe the most difficult thing to do is let the women take charge. We as men are so conditioned to mansplain and are used to our deep-rooted misogyny that we do everything, even if it is subconsciously to drown out the voices of women.
It is important to understand that this is a women issue. It is them that are unsafe at night, it is them whose character is judged by the length of their skirt, and it is they whose pictures are paraded around from one group to other.
So if it is them who’s affected by them, for once can we let them speak their hearts out? Foster an environment where a comprehensive, free and constructive discussion can take place on the issue. Let women speak, on their perspective, what is wrong, why it is wrong and what needs to be done. Respect the feedback they give and try to ensure that women around you feel safe and comfortable enough to speak about all this with you.
For once, let them speak, and you just listen.
PS – In an ideal world I would have liked a woman to be writing this piece, but that’s a fight for another day.
Introspect Your Own Boys Locker Room Groups To Identify The Problem
It’s time to put to rest and bury the “Boys Will Be Boys” saying. Throughout this issue, the argument has been rife that it is just “locker room talk” or a “playful banter” between a group of young boys.
It is time we understand that it is not.
Our WhatsApp group have grown to be places where any sort of opinion can be shared. This is exactly the problem. When we allow something to foster surreptitiously we normalize the practice. We condition ourselves into believing that such conversations, comments and sharing of information are normal as long as it is taking place amongst a select group.
If you introspect you’ll see for yourself how many times you and I have contributed to the thoughts and opinions that are centered on the degradation of women. For those of you thinking you haven’t, I’d just like to say your silence when you’re part of these conversations is equally problematic. The fact that your regressive thoughts aren’t rebutted with a counter-argument fosters the inherent thinking that it is okay to do such things, as long as they stay within people of your gender.
The first step towards a solution is acceptance of the problem. It is high time you and I accept that this is an issue which exists everywhere. From our families to our schools to our workplaces to our friends, it cuts across verticals much more than we care to admit. It’s time to accept the problem, apologize for our and repent our wrongdoings.
Take A Stand And Call Out Inappropriate Behaviour On Groups
What is wrong is wrong, irrespective of the audience, medium or intent with it is shared. That is why it is even more important to call the guilty parties out in this case.
So call out your friends when that sexist meme is forwarded on your WhatsApp group. Single out that guy and make him understand how messed up his thinking is when he shares that picture of a girl without her consent. It is important to take a stand on virtual platforms and speak your mind to ensure that group conversations don’t get toxic and regressive. Call out the patriarchy in your homes, the misogyny in the society and the casual sexism in your conversations with your friends.
More importantly, if you or anyone you know is part of groups like the “Boys Locker Room” it is important to call them out for misogyny and make them realize the male privilege and sexism they so casually fail to see.
Take Rape Threats More Seriously
Another alarming thing to see post the whole debacle was how easily rape threats and intimidations to physically abuse were passed by these boys.
The fact that the young boys found it so easy to just pass out a rape threat as soon as their actions were called out is worrisome. It is highly disturbing to know that the first response of men, even from this young age, is to physically overpower women whenever she raises her voice.
Their callous nature actually shows us how we have normalized rape culture and toxic masculinity in our day to day lives. Their actions show that in spite of all conversations regarding gender equality, body positivity and feminism when the time comes, men feel most comfortable exerting their physical dominance as a means to be proved righteous.
Therefore it is important to educate our children from a young age about the weight an evil practice like rape carries with itself. It shows our shortcomings as a society if a young boy feels that he can easily pass off a rape threat against a woman and get away with it. That surely needs to be addressed at an emotional and psychological level.
Understand How You May Be Contributing To The Problem By Being Insensitive
If there’s someone in your circles talking about this issue with you, stop feeling that they’re attacking you. Whenever something like this comes to light, the hashtag #NotAllMen doesn’t take long to prop up.
However, that precisely is something we shouldn’t be doing. It is important to understand that all of us, in some way or the other contribute to the problem. Only the extent of our crime varies. It is important to understand that even something like sending a laughing emoji on a sexist meme contributes to nurturing that male toxicity amongst your peers.
At a time when women in our society face numerous problems on a daily basis, the least we can do is sensitive to the issues and try to understand it from their perspective.
The only way to do that is to develop a sense of empathy and try to create a world where sensitivity isn’t a sign of weakness and is rather an admirable quality.
Make it a point to be more sensitive in your daily life. Try to not cross the lines of equality, respect and co-existence when sharing jokes or having conversations. Instead of just negating the issue and trying to turn the blame by saying that these women are doing it for something as trivial as Instagram followers, listen to others. Understand the place from where they’re coming from as well, rather than just brushing off all women issues as a by-product of them being overtly sympathetic or dramatic.
So if you want to see a society wherein men and women are equal, be the change you want to see. The problem just isn’t objectification, that’s something you and I are guilty of in a variety of ways ( that’s a topic for another time) it’s something that goes way beyond that. Only when it is addressed we can be sure that we don’t see a “Boys Locker Room” prop up again anytime soon.