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#BoisLockerRoom: The Vile Face Of Misogyny And Toxic Masculinity Among Teens

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At the age of 15, I got hold of my guy friend’s Facebook account. He had accidentally left his account opened on our school computer. I was going to log out and suddenly a message popped up. It was from one of my other male friends. The message said. “Dude, you won’t enjoy having sex with her, she is dark-skinned”. I couldn’t help but open the message. They were talking about my best friend.

I logged out of the account and decided to confront my guy friend, the one on whose account I had read the message. They had a whole conversation lined up about my best friend and my female classmates. Their language was not atrocious but they were still objectifying every girl in the class. For the next two years, my guy friend remained angry with me for reading his private chat but it took two years for him to understand that he was evading our privacy.

In another incident, at the age of 17, right in between the ongoing board exams, another female friend received a call recording on her Whatsapp; the recording was a conversation between her boyfriend and his best friend revealing how she was a Use and throw”. The recording also had anecdotes from their private moments. Her boyfriend was also caught saying how he wants to break up with her because she isn’t comfortable in taking their relationship to the next level.

Today, a similar and not so shocking incident has come to light. An Instagram group chat of teenage boys has been exposed by girls on social media. The group named ‘Bois locker room’ is made by 15-year-old boys studying in elite schools of Delhi. The most disturbing thing is that few of their female classmates were also part of this group. This bunch of kids get together and make atrocious comments on women. They morph their photos, talk about doing unspeakable things to them including how ‘they can rape them easily.’

Few of the girls who were added to these groups or harassed by these boys shared various screenshots of their filthy talks across social media. Unsurprisingly, these girls also shared screenshots of the threat messages sent to them by these boys for leaking out the information. The threats read as “Let us leak her nude pictures” and “She becomes a big feminist on the face, we will not leave her, she won’t be able to show her face out in public.”

In a not so shocking move, few of the boys created another account called “Jai ka skirt gang and Bois Locker Room 2.0” to discuss ways of getting out of their mess and teaching the whistle-blowers a lesson. Few of them tried defending themselves and one of them issued an apology. Apart from this, they also talked about creating accounts on various other platforms where chat history can be easily deleted. Now, the boys have been booked under section 66E of the IT Act for Cyber-bullying, after Delhi Commission for Women took action against them.

Not Having Conversations About Harassment Is A Part Of The Problem

Co-incidentally, hours after putting out an outrageous post against the incident and rape culture among teens, I got a spam call from an unknown number with the man telling me how he wants to be my lover and how heartbroken he is because I have forgotten my non-existent former lover.

What has remained surprising so far is that I have hardly seen men talk about the incident. While talking to a male friend, I objected that if he rejects the objectifying of women and is so appalled by the rape culture spreading among teens, why isn’t he the one sharing stuff and initiating the conversation? He had nothing to contribute to the situation. This is what the big problem is, not talking about the harassment is silently becoming part of the problem.

A few days ago, I got into a verbal spat on Facebook over a sexist meme shared by an educated journalist. When I objected over it, he tried to convince me with sorts of logic that it was plain, harmless humour. Although he was civil enough in keeping his point forward, within minutes, 10 other boys ganged up on me calling me a pseudo-feminist and bullying me in every possible way. Two kind men who came out in my support and asked the miscreants to stop were heavily trolled. It was ten versus two. This huge difference in number is a hitch. My Facebook friend who initially shared the post cornered himself saying that he isn’t the one who is indulging in verbal abuse and he is not entitled to jump in the conversation. This seemed like another snag.

The problem of misogyny has been internalized and toxic masculinity is crossing every limit possible. As a 21st-century woman, in 2020, it is one of the biggest heartbreaks to live with an everlasting sword hanging around my neck. The need of an hour is to talk about the problem and address the issue and not corner from it. Even if good men can change even one of their counterparts, several girls will be saved from mental and physical abuse. Talking is important, after all, the #MeToo movement was all about it.

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

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She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

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Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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