Lesson number 1: Women. Are. People.
If you don’t believe this, your children never will. If you constantly attach sexist stereotypes to what a woman can or cannot do, at work, in school, on the field, on the street, or at home, you are raising your kids wrong. A boys locker room sounds harmless, doesn’t it? Just another trending hashtag. But this is one of the worst threats to the future of your children. Here’s what this hashtag is all about:
A group chat on Instagram, called ‘Bois Locker Room‘, went viral this week for its absolutely disgusting and criminal content. About 20 Delhi schoolboys shared pictures of underage girls, including their own classmates, and discussed sexually assaulting them in this chat. Not only were these pictures shared without consent, the members of this chat, all in Class 11 and 12, slut shame the girls and talk about raping them as if it’s something they deserve. When they were first reported, the members of this chat formed a second group and threatened to leak nudes of the girls who complained about them.
This piece of news has been every parent’s waking nightmare. But who do we blame for this mentality trickling down to the future generation? The schools for not talking about consent or sex education, or the parents who think women who wear a certain kind of outfit deserve to be attacked? Whoever you blame, we know there’s a problem, and it needs to be addressed. Here’s what you need to teach your sons so that they don’t become a part of this disgusting culture.
1. It’s never okay to joke about any kind of sexual assault
How many times have we heard rape or molestation jokes? It’s so normal for men to use sexual assault as humour, but what these men don’t realise is that these words strike fear in a woman’s heart. These are the words which are constantly in our minds when we’re on the street, or even “safe” at home. Sexual assault is never a joke for women, so why should it be for men?
2. ‘Boys will be boys’ is not valid justification for anything
Some of the defence for this group chat has been on the lines of ‘boys will be boys’. Boys are not born monsters. They are taught and conditioned to believe that the organ between their legs makes them immune to punishment. Boys are told that they are the superior gender and have the authority to teach women lessons for not dressing or behaving “right”.
3. Women work harder than men to earn lesser. And this reality needs to change
Across the world, gender pay gaps are normalised. Why? Because women are supposed to stay home and look after the family. Men are the primary earners, they should be getting paid more. Women just work as a hobby before marriage. What’s the point of working anyway when you’re married to a big, strong man? Is this how you think? Is this what you convey to your children in different ways? Do you, as a man, drop your stuff everywhere while your wife or your mom cleans up after you? And of course, women at home do nothing all day while you slave all day at the office, right? Open your eyes and get a reality check if you want your kids to do better in life.
4. Consent is king
Whether it’s kissing someone, giving a hug, or forwarding a picture, teach your children about consent. Tell them how important it is to ask someone for their permission before touching them. Teach your kids how hurtful it would be if someone were to share their picture and discuss their physical features or clothing choices. Tell them about the damage a ‘boys locker room’ can do.
5. If someone says ‘no’, leave them alone
This whole romanticisation of pursuing your love interest, running behind them when you see them, or doing everything in your power to make them say yes, needs to end NOW. Tell your kids to concentrate all that energy into achieving career and education goals and building a good life for themselves. It is not okay to coerce anyone into doing something they’ve already refused.
6. Bullies should always be reported, at home and in school
It’s not always easy or advisable to stand up to bullies directly. But a child needs to be able to tell someone if they’re being bullied. A large part of this rape culture also comes from being bullied by peers into thinking and acting like them. But if you raise your child well, they will at least know the difference between an obvious right, like reporting a crime, and wrong, like becoming an accomplice to sexual assault.
7. Boys are allowed to cry
Let’s talk about toxic masculinity, a concept that takes away humanity from both men and women. When we tell boys that they shouldn’t cry because they’re boys, we’re telling them that their emotions don’t matter and that they always need display some primitive, raw strength as a man. We’re also telling them crying is a sign of weakness and that because women cry, they can and should be oppressed.
8. No matter who she is, what she’s wearing, where she is, or what time it is, you have no right over her.
If you need us to explain this to you, please refer to the first line of this article. And repeat it to yourself, over and over again, till you start believing it.
Teaching your child to be a good person might take time. But here’s something that you can do immediately for the betterment of your child:
Stop stereotyping women, and learn to be better people. Don’t speculate about a female colleague’s promotion and wonder aloud what she did or who she slept with. Don’t leave the cooking and cleaning to the women of the house and degrade them if they fall short because you think it’s your right as a man. And please don’t tell your daughter that she can’t wear shorts or skirts or meet her male friends when your son has no such restrictions.
If you want your sons to be decent human beings, lead by example.