The exposure of lewd chats from ‘Bois Locker Room’, an Instagram group formed by teenage boys from South Delhi discussing abusive sexual content and objectifying minor girls, sparked controversy on social media recently. Many 15 to 17-year-olds studying in elite schools of Gurugram were allegedly caught sharing obscene photos of female classmates without their consent, as well as making sexual assault and gang-rape remarks. Delhi Police has since opened an investigation, conducting interrogations and making several arrests. However, leaked screenshots from the group chat raised serious questions about this mortifying mindset of Indian boys and men.
The inherent misogyny, patriarchy, and toxic masculinity in Indian society highly cater to the vile behavior of these young men. Easy access to explicit content and pornography in the era of the Internet intensifies the urge for teenagers to experiment sexually. Therefore the responsibility to inculcate morality within a minor falls upon parents or guardians.
From a young age, children are subjected to the objectification of women on TV, in movies, and in songs. It typecasts women into something they are not in the juvenile minds watching them, who grow up believing these false portrayals. They are also influenced by adults (parents, relatives) who impart foul talks or behavior around them. “Children observe their parents and extended families engaging in such casual exchange. So the children grow up thinking it is okay to objectify women. This then gets reinforced with their peers,” said Dr. Rajagopal.
Experts suggest open conversation from parents and teachers about kids’ changing adolescent bodies, and that sexual understanding and consent are more helpful to children than forbidding such knowledge. While girls are given surface-level information on sex education when they learn about menstruation, boys are eluded from it entirely. “Parents and school authorities need to come out of denial that young adults are sexually active and start having open, direct and technical conversations with their tweens and teens about how to channel sexual desires in a healthy manner”, stressed Aanchal Narang, a Mumbai-based therapist, to SheThePeople.
“We as a society must be comfortable to sit down and talk about the sexual act. Even today the minute there is an intimate scene in a movie, parents tell their children to get up and leave. We have to get out of that sort of mindset. We should be able to have a healthy and open conversation,” said Dr. Rajagopal. Curiosity and peer pressure easily persuade children as they go through puberty. It becomes important to teach sex education, gender studies, and gender sensitivity at home and in schools comprehensively to remove the associated stigma. Transparency between parents and kids will help one to understand their kids, their feelings, questions, and opinions.
To preclude a similar ‘Bois Locker Room’ from occurring in the future, it becomes increasingly important to educate children. Respecting people of all genders, refraining from participation in cyber-bullying, not engaging in lewd talks with peers… these morals are just as significant as any core values.
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