An all boys locker room Instagram chat group gets exposed for sharing lewd remarks and pictures of women. Who does society blame? Women! In this incident, now viral like how, once again we have found ways to blame women for the behaviour of men. Worse are the arguments that people are giving to defend the boys for their action, because apparently boys will be boys.
Parents are telling girls to stay away from social media. Girls showing their support towards other girls are incurring sexist trolling. Men and a few women too are asking questions like "Why did these women post their pictures? Men will be men. They are just seeking attention!" Here are some very good reasons why we shouldn't pivot the focus from the boys to the girls.
Why do women post/share such pictures then?
A (former) friend said, “It is the mistakes of the girls in the first place, they themselves posted such pictures, and they themselves sent their pictures to a guy, now they will have to face the consequences.” First of all, why do men think that women in the public domain are objects for them to sexualise? A woman's account privacy setting- public or private- does not determine her consent. It might come as a shock for men, but women do not post their pictures for men to objectify them. Secondly, if a girl shares her nudes with you, she trusts you. It is something very personal and you have no right to share it in a public group.
"There, But Not Active"
Those who are part of these groups but claim that they weren't "active" cannot be absolved of such conversations. Even those who are aware of such groups and know their friends are part of it, should be speaking up, right? With all your bro-codes, boys' club and such "locker room conversations" you silence basically counts as a support to all that is happening in such groups.
And to those who now think these men spoilt it for all men, then call them out? Instead of addressing women, ALL of whom feel unsafe, address these men who are the crux of the problem?
"They have an entire life ahead of them"
One of the boys from the group posted a long public apology. I have seen such apologies. Such apologies aren't a realisation of mistakes but a fear of consequences.
The apology said, "I am sorry. But I have a whole life ahead of me. I don't want some stupid testosterone-fuelled decisions to spoil it." How can men get away with anything by using the "we can't control our hormones" justification? I am on the second day of my period. If I go by my hormones, I should just come and break your face right away. But here I am, being civil. Because we women are told that we will be held accountable for everything we do. Your life will be spoiled? What about the lives of those girls who will be scared to post any pictures now? What about those girls you have traumatised for life? Why do you think everything is about you?
"But women too body shame men"
A group of women (against women) came up with this. "Women too body shame others. That men alone shouldn't be blamed." Bursting your bubble, this is not a matter of body shaming. If you think it is, you are a part of the problem. You do not get to trivialise the situation by labelling it as body shaming. Sure, women body shame others and it is problematic and should be called out. But not now. Not in this context.
"These girls are doing this only for publicity"
Victim blaming is the lowest they can stoop? Why would someone like to get attention by sharing conversations of some boys talking ridiculous things about their bodies? No woman likes being objectified. No woman finds ridiculous things being said about their body flattering. This only gets them unwanted attention. And even if for a moment we agree that this is for publicity, it does not justify those messages. What those boys did is still ridiculous and promotes rape culture. Read this.
If you get defensive every time a woman talks about feminism, rights, patriarchy and male domination, equality, you are a part of the problem. Men who do not demean women, support women. If your reaction to this entire situation is that even women do this, you are just trying to justify these conversations by diverting attention. Let's once again shift the blame to women. We do it for every rape case, we do it on every assault - we simply look for clues on what the girl was wearing, what time it was, who enters an empty bus and so on and so forth. We simply forget to ask questions of the perpetrator.
Saumya Tiwari and Ayushi Aggarwal are interns at SheThePeople.TV. The views expressed are the authors' own.