A new day, a new incident.
The boys locker room fiasco has shocked most of us but there were a few who had expected this. Rape culture isn’t new to India. Objectifying women, asking them for nudes or body shaming them is all a part of the social media culture. Then what was different this time ? Different were the predators who happened to be from prestigious schools of Delhi. What appalled many was the ease with which gang rape was normalised. The Delhi commission for women has ordered probe into the matter but the real question is how many more locker rooms are still spreading this horrible culture without any fear ? How many more women have to face the trauma of being harassed online ? Many questions with no answers.
This fiasco not only awakened us from the sleep of “they are too young” or “they are educated” but also sensitised us about the fact that innumerable people online are actually fighting a battle everyday. There are some who are fighting the battle of morality and peer pressure while there are others who are staring at their mirrors, striving to look the best version of themselves on social media lest they should be abused.
This debate is not about boys vs girls, it’s about predator vs victim. What forces us to perceive the predator as a boy or a man and the victim as a girl or a woman is the unfortunate history of male dominance. There’s no denial that most of the predators are males, however this generalisation is toxic.
It’s positive to see people online talking about these issues more freely than ever before but it’s the conversations that we have at home with our parents that impact us deeply. As parents, it’s natural to trust your child completely and not believing that he or she can be wrong. But what if that trust ruins the lives of multiple people involved? What if that trust blinds the children so much so that they forget the difference between right and wrong, normal and criminal?
In a hypothetical scenario, if the parents of the creator of that group had had a conversation with him about rape culture, sex education or gender equality the consequences would’ve been different. Having said that, parents too can control their children only to a certain extent. What shapes a child is the environment in which he grows up. And in Indian case, the environment is usually school.
In elementary school, boys and girls are made to sit together however after middle school, if a boy and girl are sitting together they are probably having a romantic relationship. As teenagers we are not allowed to get answers to all the questions from trusted people. We’re expected to find them ourselves. And the source that many of us choose is the internet. The internet is like a universe in itself. Apart from the necessary information, there are lot of baits as well. Pornographic sites, explicit videos and misinformation about “girls wanting it” are a part of this universe.
We never get to discuss about puberty, desires, periods, acne or changes openly. It is this hesitation that forces us to go under the radar with a secret username to do the things which we are otherwise not allowed to do.
Hormones are an essential part of this age and so is discovering ourselves. The mindset that we will learn about ourselves through a scene in a movie or a video on the internet needs to change. The false definition of feminism embedded in the minds of both guys and girls needs to change. Toxic masculinity and toxic femininity equally impede our development as a society.
Lastly, the legal age to put a person behind the bars is 18. But as the situation has it, I don’t think a child is any longer a child once he or she strips a person off their dignity.