While the entire country looms over the threat of COVID-19, another pandemic has made its way into the Indian society yet again (this time, rather differently). Well, I’m not exactly sure if calling this a ‘pandemic’ is right, because unlike other pandemics, this one has been a part of our societies from time immemorial. Recently, the chats of a social media group called ‘bois locker room’ had been leaked by a couple of people, and it has been doing the rounds on social media as well as television news channels ever since.
What was being discussed by young school boys in these chats are, well, not very alarming, contrary to what a lot of people might think. Objectification of females, talking of sizes of female body parts, and even considering raping women are a few of the topics being discussed by these school boys. Not to forget, a series of pictures of girls (most of them being minors) were also being shared in this group chat on the basis of which these boys were making their judgements.
Now a lot of people have come out and termed this incident as ‘shocking’ or ‘alarming’, like I said before. But that is sadly not the truth. This is not the first time that boys/men had the insolence to degrade the female gender. This internalised commodification of women has always been a part of our societies, and even our homes. It starts from something as ‘mild’ as grooving to cheap Bollywood songs like ‘Choli ke peeche kya hai’ or Akon’s classic (like one would say) ‘I wanna love you’, to disallowing girls from stepping out of their houses after dusk.
To think of it, can you really completely blame these young children for having the mentalities that they do? Yes and no. Yes, these are their own thoughts and by all means should be condemned, but no, this mentality is not something they were born with. It’s high time we start holding the society we live in, and parents/guardians in particular, accountable for the massive amount of disrespect that the men today have for women.
Telling girls to behave because ‘we live in a society and hence you have to learn to adapt’ needs to stop right away. Telling your daughters to ‘sit like a girl’ or asking them to ‘dress appropriately’ is not the solution. What is also not the solution is to straightaway hang these criminals. Clearly, that has changed nothing, and never will. This is not only the fault of the criminals who rape or have the audacity to catcall women, but also of every individual out there who tells women to be more careful because, well, ‘boys will be boys’.
Education is the key here—education that imparts knowledge about women being as human as men, and that they should not be treated as objects that are meant to pleasure men and feed their egos. Parents and teachers need to take it upon themselves to feed the right kind of morals into these young minds.
Does it become a big issue only once a woman is raped and murdered? Why is it that our society loves solutions like hanging the criminals or mob lynching them? But when you talk about getting to the root of the problem and changing mentalities through educating masses about women’s equality, fighting patriarchy and misogyny, irradiating women’s oppression, the idea is just too exhausting for some.
Stopping them young and bringing up children in an environment that treats women as equals is the only solution one must resort to today. There really is no other way.