Let’s Save Our Boys by Soumiki Ghosh

‘MEN WILL BE MEN’, growing up, I heard this at least a thousand times, not only in TV commercials but in every discussion when someone normalized a misogynistic behaviour of a man. Gradually, I witnessed this to become ‘BOYS WILL BE BOYS’. So when last week, secret chats of a boy’s Instagram group went viral, I wasn’t too surprised. Instagram chat group called ‘Bois Locker Room’, with hundreds of boys from south Delhi was allegedly used for sharing morphed pictures of minor girls, objectifying them and promoting rape culture, revealed a user on Twitter on Sunday, 3rd May. In a separate incident, another screenshot that has gone viral claimed that underage boys were ‘planning gang rape’ and had made other such crude statements. Messages promoting rape culture, like “We can rape her easily” and “We will gang rape her”, were allegedly discussed on the Snapchat group.The case took an interesting turn when an investigation revealed that the comment on ‘gang-rape’ was part of a Snapchat conversation between a girl and a boy. The girl posed as a boy and made the comment to test the receiver’s response and his character. When screenshots from Bois Locker Room started circulating on social media, the alleged Snapchat conversation also got mixed with those chats. However, police said no case will be registered against the girl or the boy because of them being juveniles.
So as a society, we are relieved to shift the burden of morality on women because we did not know how to react in the first place. But let’s face it. We cannot ignore the casual misogyny and normalization of rape culture in society. How is this mindset growing into young boys? What is responsible for the toxic masculinity that’s raging in society today? The answer is simple. It all starts at your home. If appreciation of gender equality is missing in childhood, it impairs the future of the child undoubtedly. At home, they hear adults deride feminism and equality as a utopian, impractical notion. Sex education is forbidden. They witness reinforcement of traditional gender roles as natural and pragmatic. Boys learn that they are the tougher gender having an upper hand biologically, and this sense of power over the weaker gender turns vicious.
Parents of boys are normalizing boy talks. These boys too do not live in isolation; they are the product of a patriarchal society that has allowed “locker room talk” to go unchecked. The parents are relieved because they are not raising the gender at the stake of sexual offenses and here’s where they are wrong. Their children are at stake of being young assaulters and rapists if not, being the victims.
Boys are ingrained from childhood to believe that being ‘male’ means expressing sexual power overtly, exaggeratedly, and aggressively. A failure to do so is seen as putting one’s masculinity in doubt. In these chatrooms, there is very little real desire involved. At stake is only male virility — the need to constantly brandish it and prove it. And ‘dirty talk’, which often becomes ‘violent talk’, becomes the way to establish virility. Casual sexism is rooted in their minds deeply. What starts with sexist jokes and comments, grows into active misogyny, and ends in abuse.
Every boy out there knows the mechanics of sex but is ignorant about caring, empathy, and mutual respect. We never educate them about the importance of desire, how to express it, about the unimportance of tagging an action or behaviour as masculine or feminine, about consent and the importance of a ‘NO’, a rejection. These are more vital to sex education than mere biology. It needs to be taught that no obscene behaviours can be justified just because it is manly. Let’s stop treating sex as a taboo and start talking about it with our children at a certain age. Otherwise, the lack of knowledge will turn them inquisitive and curious in the wrong way.
In the movie Pink, a particular dialogue won our attention. ”We need to save our boys. Only then our girls will be saved. The effort has been done in the wrong direction since the beginning to correct a girl’s behaviour.’ Patriarchal societies excuse young boys for predatory behaviour and contribute to rape culture. Girls’ behaviours are restricted and the boys’ behaviours are neglected and defended. This locker room incident points to how this culture has percolated down to the new generation. It can be only be fought by changing the very mindset that encouraged this violent behaviour and adopting a policy of zero-tolerance and making it unacceptable. The solution does not lie in a character lesson to a girl and ignoring the character building of a boy. He can’t be expected to learn that on his own. Parenting and gender education plays a vital role here. Let’s shift our focus from the victims to the accused and eliminate the root cause of this social challenge.

2 Replies to “Let’s Save Our Boys by Soumiki Ghosh”

  • This is very well written. It’s high time victim blaming is stopped and the focus shifts to the accused. But, I just feel like if it was a bit more gender neutral, it would have been better. However, yes, Men will be Men remains true even though there was a few exceptions as ALL woman are affected.

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