Recently, screenshots of the messages from a group named ‘Boys Locker Room’ was out. The chat had women being described in a derogatory manner, with their pictures being shared and discussion about raping them happening. The level of foul language and obscenity in the group is unprecedented for many women. Still, I don’t think that would be the case with men because we have all seen a boys locker room around us, not because we went looking for it but because it wasn’t hiding at all.
As I was reading the group chat, I could not help but realize that I knew these people. I knew them because they were around me throughout my schooling days. These were the most popular boys in our school, and everyone wanted to be a part of their gang. I wasn’t trendy in school, but my best friends were. So, unfortunately, we tried and managed to become a part of their group. Let’s call it the ‘C gang.’
The C gang consisted of kids from my class and it also extended to brothers of these kids and their friends. The exact words used by the ‘Boys Locker Room’ group members for various female body parts were used in the C gang. The C gang was the most sexist bunch of people you could find and strangely was the most popular group among the girls. I remember an incident where a guy, who was a friend of somebody’s brother from C gang, came to hang out with us. He told us about all the women he had slept with and asked us if there is a girl in our class who we think will be ready for sex so that he can try hitting on her.
To my utter shock, people from the C gang started suggesting names of our friends and describing these girls with extremely derogatory words. In addition to that, challenging each other to touch a girl’s breast without getting caught was another disgusting act, which was very common. Unfortunately, doing so was considered an achievement of sorts by these people. The use of terms like ‘use and throw’ for girls was in plenty. It became so normal that I ended up using it in front of my sister when we were discussing girls. It wasn’t a mistake that I used the term in front of her, and I genuinely felt it was something normal.
That day turned out to be a big learning lesson for me. My sister, who was six years older to me, explained how regressive it is to use a term like that and told me how cool people are those who respect women. It was then that I realized that C gang was nothing but a group of jokers, and I should not aspire to be like them but instead should stay away from them as much as I can. My friends and I exited the gang for good and went on our old ways, a small group of like-minded individuals who talked about games and movies.
I had the liberty of having a mature good-hearted sibling who could push me in the right direction during those characters forming years of my life. Boys are taught to be strong when they feel weak, confident when they feel insecure and tough when they are hurt. As a boy, the only thing which one wants is to be liked and accepted by the other boys, and thanks to the many C gangs around the world, it means acquiring a disgusting view of the feminine.
It is essential to hold the members of the boys’ locker room accountable. It is important for us to send out a message to every kid out there who is on the verge of adopting toxic masculinity, that this is not right, and the only thing which makes you ‘cool’ is being respectful. Being sensitive, affectionate, and considerate is not feminine and masculine is not the opposite of feminine. Boys should aspire to become men who stand up against the locker room talk, men who speak up against sexual harassment, men who stand up and do something so that one day we don’t have to live in a world where a woman has to risk everything and come forward to say the words #MeToo.