• Roshni Ali

#BoisLockerRoom | Origins of Misogyny Culture in Elite Schools

What is the #BoisLockerRoom Scandal?

In May 2020, an incident involving an Instagram group chat of hundreds of boys aged around 16-19, named ‘bois locker room’, was exposed making obscene comments about rape and exchanging private photos of girls. These boys belong to some of the best schools in Delhi.

It's a reminder of the two similar scandals in Kolkata and Mumbai.

But are those misinformed boy's to blame or social conditioning at play?

This is to examine the scandal through the lens of the bombardment by media, social and peer pressure. (I've chose not to go into patriarchy, as that is an extensive debate.)

This is, of course, a large debate, but the answer is everywhere! The answer is simple.

These scandals seem to rattle people but this is not a surprise, this is inevitable.

The 90's Kid: Rise of MTV & PORN

The '90s was the era of the television boom. We used to have a couple of boring channels from there we got almost a hundred of channels! The kids had Cartoon Network and for the young teens, there was Nickelodeon.

I remember seeing the video of Holly Vance 'Kiss Kiss' on Nickelodeon where she danced naked with little flashes of light covering nipples. It was so 'sexy' - the 8-year-old me thought. Also remember seeing 'Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam' and actually thinking Aishwarya got pregnant after Salman kissed her in the library - forgive me - I was 9. We were young, we knew that adults were hush with some matters and that there is a great mystery to solve.

By the early 2000s, the Internet started taking baby steps into the Indian household. My best friend was tech-savvy enough to figure out a way to see porn. Initially, it started with low-resolution pics of boobs but soon enough videos were available. We would sit and type words into the address bar, hoping to see if something would pop up. The first reaction to porn was 'yuck'.

Anyways, for many boys porn became gold. Never before was it so easy to access so much of pornography. Parents were not as tech-savvy as teens and had no idea what they were up to. In many elite schools, there were porn clubs where floppies and CD's were exchanged. Teen boys would be fueled by toxic masculinity, consuming porn and jerking off multiple times a day was spoken with pride. There was a need for porn to become more exciting. Incest, teacher-porn, MILF-porn, gang-bang, public sex, bondage were few of the 'exciting' genres.

The pressure of becoming an 'alpha male' was fueled more by pop culture. The idea of being a 'successful man' meant fancy cars, money and lots of women. But here, we need to also acknowledge the rise of toxic feminity, the idea of being a 'successful woman' was mainly a great body which would make her attractive to men leading her to a successful life.

Around the age of 13-14 girls and boys started dating. Parents and Schools were not prepared to talk about sex. Everything was a taboo, and with such a narrow-minded discourse, it led to teens bottling up their emotions and genuine thoughts.

Sad but true, porn became sex-ed for a generation of 'elite' kids.

Teen dating was cute on the surface; as walks after maths tuition and holding hands in the movies seemed really sweet. However, when it came to making out, there was a notion that girls would be okay with anything. The idea of consent was not really there. It was the unwritten understanding that if you were his girlfriend he had the right to make sexual advances, and you were expected to comply.

On the flip side, girls would take pride in the number of boys dancing on her fingertips. It's the classic case of being led on. Where the girls would expect the boys to shower her with expensive gifts and take her for lavish dates. For many boys, they could not cope up to the materialistic demands of the dating culture. This would lead to anger, resentment and the holding financial wealth as an utmost priority of life.

I remember a party where a girl and boy was flirting and they went up to the terrace. The girl came running down stressed at how the boy shoved his penis into her mouth. We did not really think of it much and we laughed it off. But looking back, these are the moments which define our society.

We can't just blame the men.

The woman played into this objectification too!

(Remember the Juicy sweat pants, anyone?)

It emergence of MTV came in another wave of influence. The pop songs which we all sang and danced too were hype-sexual.

MTV gave rise to pop icons. We just could not get enough of Britney Spears, Cristina Agulera and likes of Jenifer Lopez. They looked so flawless, with their perfectly toned abs, we could not help but look at our stomach and feel 'fat'.

Britney Spears & Christina Aguilera

This led to numerous insecurities of our bodies. I remember at least 95 per cent of the girls in my class felt insecure about their body. That either they were too fat, too thin, or their boobs were weird - something which made you feel, you are much less than what you actually are.

These insecurities are exactly what leads girls into becoming prey to boys, men and the consumer-driven society. With a growing inferiority complex, there is a rise in depression, personality disorders, anger, resentment and envy.

The need for approval seems to be more than ever. Self-esteem hits such rock bottom that girls feel it's their role to give in to sexual advances, even if they do not want to comply. It's in the hope of feeling more accepted and not being judged as orthodox.

Being a 'virgin' was something to be ashamed of. That a 'liberated' woman would lose her virginity by school end was a notion. Some were unable to keep up and finding a partner seemed to become a priority, otherwise the 'cool kids' would laugh at them for being a prude.

That brings me to the social hierarchy of an elite school.

Mean Girls (2004)

There were a few who everyone knows and talks about - popular but not necessarily liked. Many of the 'cool kids' are the wealthiest or the most attractive students. These kids are your top of the food chain brats with a sense of enlightenment and a fragile superiority complex. But to most of the students, they were flawless. Like Cady describes the queen B Regina George in Mean Girls, "I could hate her, and at the same time, I still wanted her to like me."

The schools added to the notion of entitlement. Most elite schools encourage a sense of immense pride to belong to such a great institution. Looking down on the other schools is the norm. It's totally legit to make fun of other schools if they were not as rich as us. We looked down on people who used public transport, spoke the vernacular language; in short the 'poor people'.

Being 'poor' in a rich school is difficult. While many carried wallets stashed with cash overflowing - you felt ashamed standing in the bus stand waiting for a bus.

By the late teens, we are out clubbin' and thriving on the MTV culture. We wanted to be young, wild and free! It felt great to finally go out to the hottest club in halter tops, dance to pop music and take pride in our drinking capacity.

We knew we were on the path to success! - at least, that's what we thought.

Many of us spent the next decade facing various issues, each one still battling their own demons.

Flash Forward: GEN-Z and Era of Hyper-Connectivity

The framework is more or less similar however the hyper-sexuality is dialled up a notch.

Social Media is now where many teens thrive for identity. While the 90's kids grew up idolizing the pop icons, this generation has the social media celebrity. Apart from keeping your grades up, it's important to have followers too! It's so luring that you could get discovered on social media by an agent, director, producer and become the next big thing.

Teens crave for attention and seek approval. Social media algorithms work in a way that if you wrote a super woke status you would get a few likes, but instead, you share a selfie it gets hundreds of likes.

"Look at this girl twerking in hot pants. I'm a guy - I'm supposed to like this! Tell me if anything I'm saying is wrong. Why do you think she is doing this? To attract boys- dugh!" says a Gen Z boy.

Aptly said in Euphoria, asking for nudes seems to be the currency of romance of this generation.

But, why is there a problem? Attracting a partner is a biological ritual?

The problem is in the duality of our society. The mind is very sensitive and it picks up behavioural traits form the adults which mostly propagate their own brand of misogyny.

Anyway, the teens of this generation are very smart. They are aware of the duality which they exist in. Many girls and boys use it to their advantage. However, there is such a lack of authenticity that existential crisis sets in.

In early onset of depression is running to glittery excessiveness as a solution. Going on a shopping spree or buying the next iPhone might feel like the remedy to get rid of the bitter sinking feeling in the stomach. Not a coping mechanism of all, but many.

Tinder and many online dating apps seem to be a plethora of adventures for young girls and boys. Yes, we know the "official" age of these apps are 18 plus. But c'mon, who really ever cares?

It's okay to have an app just to see who are 'available' in the locality. It's causal, they swear. This online dating is based on two major criteria, your good looks and how much money you can show off.

Relationships are meant to be quick and emotionless. Relationships seem hollow. Many portray a persona on their social media but are actually very different people. The constant need to keep up with the neatly curated persona gets exhausting. It's like playing a role every day, struggling to keep your true self hidden. With the lack of mindfulness and the value in the next thrill, sex has become too casual to mean anything. It's the classic situation where the chase is better than the catch. So then the inevitable question, what are you chasing?

Weed and hash are very commonly used by the 'elite teens' but some may even get hold of chemical substances. The drugs are an escape from the meaningless void. It is easy to succumb to the blank numbness of the high which makes pain fade away.

No doubt, the situation is dark. Every hour one student commits suicide in India, with about 28 such suicides reported every day, according to data compiled by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB). Some cases have happened in 'elite' schools but they are still not talking about it!

On 5th May, after the Bois Loker Room Scandal, a teenager jumped off the balcony of his residence on the 11th floor of a building, within hours of being named by a girl in a 'me too' Instagram post. The boy was overwhelmed with shame, guilt and fear.

Some might think that degenerate like him deserved to die, that his death was a blessing to society. I know, schools and parents will try to brush the entire incident under the carpet. Teachers and parents face a generation gap unable to grasp the depth of the situation. Their dismissive attitude makes the situation even worse.

How could you not feel depressed?

When you are constantly bombarded with hot selfies of your peers, the glamourous lifestyle of celebrities - It's normal to feel like a LOSER.

Being sensitive and emotional are negative traits, no one wants to come across weak. There we go again bottling up feelings. Often this gives rise to personality disorders, where a tough spilt personality would be created to protect the vulnerable 'true' self.

The big media corporations like Facebook, Instagram, Disney, Nickelodeon, MTV know the impact they have on young minds.

But depressed people do make the best customers!

The entire science of advertising is designed to feed into insecurities. Teens with never-ending insecurities make excellent customers. In an age where perfection is the way of life, how could we let out our clumsy self?

The reason we try to hide our true self is because of the fear of rejection or ridicule. So let's buy the ab machine, the eyelash extension, the latest Kyle Jenner lip kit, the Miley Cyrus Crop top - it's a cry to be accepted and a need to feel validated.

This has made its way to pop culture too. Bille Elish's grammy-winning album 'When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?' talks about teenage angst and the recurring suicidal thoughts. Just like the Netflix teen-drama, 13 Reasons Why.

Our meaningless, over competitive consumer-driven lifestyle, leaves us feeling soulless. We've spent decades normalizing toxic masculinity and feminity the current generation is just picking up the crumbs.

It's easy to stand on a pedestal and judge the current generation, but it's really hard growing up in this society, where we have narrowly defined gender roles to play.

We need to encourage in sex education, healthy dialogue, critical thinking and question the purpose of our existence.

What does it mean to be feminine?
What does it mean to be masculine?
What is the full range of what it means to be human?

We haven't challenged boys to be better. Boys are not encouraged to be sympathetic, caring or emotional. It's important that the men see the hollowness of their toxic persona, as they are holding woman hostages, they are prisoners to themselves.

Coming back to the scandals, what were the boys thinking?

They thought it is okay. That they are entitled to a woman's body. It's a whole culture of misogyny at play. It's time we re-examine the culture we have fueled.

To conclude, I would borrow from Immanuel Kant philosophy, that we need to behave in a way that if every individual in the society behaved like us - we would be a progressive society.

(I would encourage debate and discussion. Please feel free to write to me at theroshniali@gmail.com OR share your views in the comments.)

Source | Additional Reads :

Vice : The 'Bois Locker Room' Chat Exposes India's Rape Culture, and How It Starts so Young

Bois Locker Room | 14-year-old commits suicide after MeToo accusation

India Today: Schoolboys at posh Mumbai school talk about raping classmates, 'gang bang' in horrific WhatsApp chats

Mini-Documentary: Project MKUltra: The CIA’s Mind Control Operation

Documentary: Hollywood and CIA Propaganda

PHILOSOPHY: Immanuel Kant

Netflix Documentary: Liberated - The New Sexual Revolution (Highly recommended)

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I do not own these images, used under google's fair use policy.

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