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Not Just Colleges, Hazing Happens In Workplaces And Relationships Too

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I’ve wanted to write about this topic for quite some time now, mostly because I’ve come across hazing in all major aspects of my life, and I refuse to be a part of it—neither the victim nor the perpetrator.

 What Do I Mean When I Use The Word ‘Hazing’?

Wikipedia says that it “refers to any activity expected of someone in joining or participating in a group that humiliates, degrades, abuses, or endangers them regardless of a person’s willingness to participate.” In simple words, it means ragging.

Why do we people do it?

Interestingly, someone called Mr Harvey Whitehouse, an anthropologist, has said that hazing increases bonding, identity fusion and commitment. That is if you get ragged to be a part of a group, your sense of belongingness to that group, and your commitment to be a part of it will increase. Twisted, but true!

Can you now see why people become best of friends with their seniors after being ragged by them (e.g., Kabir Singh), why your bosses try to insult you to make you work, and the worst of all, why toxic relationships seem so difficult to get out of?

What Are The Different Forms Of Hazing?

Hazing can take any form from the barbaric physical to the more clever psychological. Let’s figure out the common hazing tactics used based on the context it is being used in.


Representational image 

The number one scenario where hazing is used is in its most juvenile form is freshers’ ragging in college. You can list down all the things yourself, ‘making-murga’, singing, dancing, fake yoga, fake ppts, etc. Sometimes it gets physical, a few slaps here and there; it even sexual at times, stripping, rubbing against each other. Sometimes, the seniors will embarrass you by shouting at you, demeaning you… I mean, I’m sure we can find some healthy alternatives to the ritual of ragging. A freshers’ party or interaction is as good, isn’t it?


If you think ragging is too juvenile a concept to exist among mature working individuals, then think again. Your boss reminding you of your worth, rather your worthlessness by questioning your background, previous work experience, your educational qualification, that’s humiliation, an active form of hazing.

Further, think about him comparing you to some other random colleague of yours, shouting and screaming at you, especially in front of an audience, passing comments on your personal life, making jokes on your looks. Do I even need to mention that people in certain aggressive profiles often abuse each other? Does it happen only in India? Abuses = Hazing.


My personal favourite. Life is moving so fast now that the world is online, so how do you make someone stay? Humans evolve so fast—faster than the technology they make. Subconsciously, many of us, at one point or other have been perpetrators, or victims of hazing while dating. Those who haven’t, well, you’re lucky you got out before Tinder got in. Don’t be surprised, but below are a few forms of hazing you can come across in the context of a relationship.

  1. First and foremost, pointing out your partner’s “flaws” -unfit, fat, lazy, too ambitious, not too ambitious, impulsive, etc.
  2. Another one you can probably guess, *abusing* – name-calling, ‘teasing’ with demeaning pet-names, etc.
  3. An obvious red-alert, physical and sexual abuse – pushing, hitting, forced sexual encounters.
  4. A not so obvious one, but a very, very common form of hazing in toxic relationships today is taking away someone’s autonomy.
Representational image

How does one do that? Take away someone’s autonomy, and hence make life difficult for them?

  • Disappearing: not replying to your texts or call for days, weeks, months, when you’re supposed to be dating each other.
  • Reappearing: Bread-crumbing you when you’re trying to or have started to move on.
  • Forbidding you from going somewhere, talking to someone; from asking questions, being a certain way you want to be, dressing a certain way, expressing something.
  • Threatening to break up, not to meet, not to talk… I mean, you either do it or not, but always keeping someone hanging by threatening; it’s not healthy behaviour.
  • Forcing you to hear things you don’t want to hear (e.g., intimate details of their previous relationship), tell things you might not want to (e.g., intimate details of your previous relationship), do the things you don’t want to (e.g., going drinking on a weeknight), themselves on you—physically or sexually.

When all of us are so used to hazing, and it seems to be such an important part of so many cultures and groups, then what’s an alternative to it?

Well, you just have to remember that hazing is just another ritual that brings people closer. Try to substitute it for any other form of a ritual or something you, as a unit, a group or couple, can do together. Go for a match, go for lunch, karaoke… build something together, maybe paper-planes. Find something unique only your group does, or only the two of you as a couple do, or would want to, instead of making it toxic by indulging in hazing.

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