An Instagram page by the name of Bois Locker Room, apparently run by young boys from South Delhi has caused outrage, after women took to exposing the misogyny being peddled on it. Screenshots of chats on the page show young boys body-shaming women, objectifying them and passing lewd remarks on girls, who are said to be mostly minors. Many people have asked that legal action is taken against the boys in question. But this Insta page should also prompt us to look at our own family WhatsApp groups closely. Because they may hold the answer to why our boys are still not keen to respect women.

KEY TAKEAWAYS:

  • The content on Bois Locker Room Insta page is alarming. But is misogyny far from our family WhatsApp groups?
  • How many of us are fed up with demeaning jokes, and sanskaari forwards on such groups that peddle gender stereotypes?
  • How can a boy be expected to learn to respect women when the lesson for equality doesn’t start at home?
  • Could this page just be a reflection of our failure to endorse equality over patriarchy?

It is alarming to see boys in their teens glorify gang-rape, objectify women and pass lewd remarks against young girls. Mind you, the pictures on this page were shared without consent of the girls in question. But this isn’t the first incident where we have come face to face with toxic masculinity among juveniles in our society, is it? The “locker room” chat is a symptom, like other incidences of sexually aggressive behaviour of teens that have come to light in the past. Just last year, a group of boys allegedly drugged and raped their cousin at school because she was better at studies than them. They were aided by a school teacher in this heinous crime. And this why I feel that there is a correlation between this Insta page and the WhatsApp family chat that is right under our nose. Adults play a much larger role in shaping behaviour of young-adults, than they may want to concede. Easier to blame it on bad company, than ourselves, isn’t it?

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No, I don’t think any family groups see an onslaught of demeaning messages or sexually provocative forwards that objectify women. But just as with the Locker room page, our chats emulate all that is wrong with the way we are raising our children. Gendered stereotypes, stigmas and deep-rooted misogyny which may seem benign at first sight makes its way to our chats easily. Forwarded by an ignorant uncle, or a rigid patriarch who believes that women belong in the kitchen, and even by women, who have internalised patriarchy and believe that “good women” behave in a certain way and that if ill-fate befalls them, they brought it upon themselves.

Wife bashing jokes, cartoons on a husband hitting his wife because she cooked tasteless food, forwarded messages on the sanskaari behaviour that Indian boys and girls should adhere too, shutting up women on the group when the discussion veers into politics, or money or any other issue which patriarchs may think is “men’s matter.” The misogyny that we bring to our WhatsApp groups is prevalent in our homes too. It is like a culture in which the toxic mindset breeds.

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When boys see women being trivialised at home by elders when they see daughters, daughters-in-law, wives, mothers sisters, aunts and cousins being denied respect and dignity they deserve, what kind of impact does it have on their mind do you think? How can a 15-year-old boy, who has seen his mother serve her husband meals every day, before sitting down to eat herself grasp the concept of equality? How can he learn to respect women when he sees those at home being denied a voice, an agency, and any authority? The sister must come back home at eight in the evening. The bhabhi shouldn’t wear shorts or skirts because that isn’t what “decent” women wear. The aunt has to endure taunts for being left by her husband because clearly it is she who must be at fault.

Unless families stop peddling these stigmas with their actions and words., unless women are given equal status in families, in every possible aspect, we will continue to have more bois locker rooms. Boys will be boys, because we let them be. And thus, if we want to steer them away from toxic behaviour, perhaps we have to start with our family WhatsApp groups and homes.

The views expressed are the author’s own.

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