By SIMRAN KAPOOR
As the internet blooms with viral screenshots of the talked about Bois Locker room, I feel a little more disgusted, but not astonished at all. We may feel shocked over how traumatising some chat boxes may seem, because it’s become #trending, but we do release that it’s pretty normal in the rape culture that we unconsciously are a part of, with our societal upbringing.
Guns and cars are handed over to boys the moment they are born, and taunts of being sensitive, warnings of not to cry “like a girl”, taking a long time to dress “like a woman” and a constant push to win, trample, triumph are forced on a boy’s mind as conditioning the moment they start gaining self- consciousness. Growing up, they’re forced to keep up the “macho” performance, laughing at vulgar jokes and sharing “non-veg” jokes and photos – failing to do so may drop them off the category of “being a man” and becoming effeminate.
We need to understand how functional repetition of stereotypes induces a behavioural and psychological pattern in a human subconscious mind, letting them acknowledge this kind of behaviour as an acceptable reality, which becomes rigid with time, and needs psychological help to dismantle. This programming starts the moment we are born, and the repetition recording from our immediate environment as we see our family members, neighbours, friends, then school, Television, daily soaps, movies, YouTube videos, social media memes, and this repetition makes them believe that “Manhood” is not naturally obtained, but is a goal to be achieved with a certain criteria of behaviour to be followed as portrayed by these sources and, if a man fails to do so, he is a taint to ‘Man’kind.
How many times have you danced to the rap songs promoting masculine right over women and loved the movies celebrating misogyny and patriarchy, as enjoyed by women who see aggression as desirable – one reason why supporters still wonder why any woman would refuse a Kabir Singh who would go to any extent for his ‘object’ of pursuit. What they fail to realise is that women don’t want to be objectified at all.
Men are often linked with fighting the bad boys,
tough and unemotional, expressing sexual power outright and boldly, never showing empathy and also taking decisions independently as to why in so many households still, “Ek baar jo maine commitment kardi, phir main kisi ki bhi nahi sunta” is heartily followed.
Violence and harassment by heroes on screen is interpreted by audiences as acceptable behaviour in real life. A ‘no’ is considered as a ‘yes’, eve-teasing is shown as an accepted way of wooing a girl, and the hero is expected to save the damsel in distress. Moreover, we rarely see the human side of these heroes, while forcing the woman to say “Yes” for marriage is also seen attractive in those movies. Please try to analyse the same situation when the six pack abs hero is now replaced by a maniac chasing you day and night on Delhi roads outside a slum, which is the real “Hero” inspired by “that” hero worshipped by all of us.
The boys in the locker room, however, did not indulge in any such activity, you may say, and true, they could not have, in the lockdown. However, there can be seen something far more fatal than this, which is their eternal desire to prove they can rape a girl, and express this “toxic masculinity” as their right. Though they didn’t want to do it, as one of them said, we can do a lot of things, but they will not. They considered their right to comment and degrade the girls of their classrooms, which starts small from dirty and vulgar talks to undermine a woman’s sexuality as “okay”.
I hope we realise that this toxic masculinity is more psychologically socio-culturally linked than just relating it to the superior biology of men, in physical strength, roots of which lie amidst the four walls of our house only: in every gadget you use, in actions that you might feel “normal” while they might not be. How many times have we told our sons to “Not cry”? “Be a man!” “Don’t act like a girl!” “You’ve got to win that girl’s heart (well because the heart is a trophy)” “Kill your dreams to feed the family” “You are the Kul Deepak of our house” and enforced such financial and psychological burden on them since childhood?
Every boy out there knows the mechanics of his own and opposite sex, but is ignorant about caring, empathy and mutual respect. They need lessons on the importance of desire and how to express it. Not lessons on “How to pick up a girl” or “How to seduce and attract a girl”, but on how to give love and receive it. On how dating and a relationship can be a surreal experience for the development of both individuals involved in it. On how to handle rejection and move on. To accept it as a part of life. On how to be vulnerable and not be afraid of it. On the unimportance of toxic masculinity and compulsion to express Manhood all the time. While all this starts with a dialogue, when more sons could talk to both their parents and daughters, too.
These are the actual life lessons to be given to young men, if we don’t want any more Bois clubs blooming amidst us. We think that life is the greatest teacher and these lessons can be learnt on our own. But it’s high time we realise that History and Chemistry can still be learnt on YouTube as life moves on, but these lessons need special attention from the beginning at all grade levels.