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.
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.