The expose of the # BoisLocker Room, a group created on social media (Instagram) by a teenage boy, has shocked Delhi’s elite circles. The details of the group that have spilled into public domain do more than merely disclosing sordid contents of the posts. Why this is so, is far more worrying.

It is time to study various factors that allow boys hailing from well-to-do families, getting the best of education in English medium private schools and perceived as sophisticated, to have scant respect for the dignity of girls and to perceive them nothing more than sex objects. They have no qualms about targeting girls they know and interact with as buddies, vulgarity and sexual aggression.

Reams have been written and about discussed to death is how mothers have failed in bringing up their sons to be gender sensitive and the patriarchal culture of our society, especially in north India. Also, often repeated is how fathers encourage sons to be macho. Peer pressure is also blamed for egging boys to tease, molest and in some cases even rape to show off. There can be no denying that this is absolutely correct. But there are many other villains.

It is time to call out women/girls who join the boy’s gang by becoming partners in perpetuating stories and gossip started by men to demolish the reputation of women. They are wrongdoers too. The innumerable female colleagues, friends, neighbours, aunts, cousins and sisters who have laughed and gossiped with men when they demolish the reputation and character of other women. They perpetrate the crime. These women readily accept such men in the workplace as well as social circle. Actually the “kiss and tell” types find a ready appreciative audience in such women.

Let us first take a look at the work place. Have not women lent their ears and even taken forward a common narrative about another who has risen in the hierarchy. “She has slept her way to a promotion or a plump assignment” is a statement that finds many takers amongst women co-workers. They further the damage by spreading it to others as the gospel truth.

In the office environment and over coffee sessions women have gossiped and giggled about those called “sluts”, “available”, “taxi”, “hot maal”, “dhakad cheez” and worse by men and joined the boy’s gang. How many cousins,sisters and women friends have on request ‘sportingly’ introduced brothers and male friends to girls known to be “game” for sexual adventures.

Let us not forget the nosey neighbour and relative who gulp tea and samosas relating how someone’s daughter/sister/wife was “caught” with a man, relegating her to the group of women of “easy virtue”. Also let us take a look at women who have trolled those who have called out men/boys for forcing themselves on them and demanded sexual favours once their story is contradicted by the alleged culprit. They easily believe the man’s version and quickly debunk the version of the girl.

Such are the women amongst us who instead of standing up for those who are being “shamed” by men, actually join them. They become the men’s comrades in crime. They boost men’s vulgar talk and sexual aggression. By accepting their reprehensible behaviour such women actually encourage men to continue with it at the cost of reputations and even lives.

The crucial issue here is not what the truth is. The core issue is that should women be perpetrators who keep alive the lethal elements in our culture or should they be instruments to “shame” such men and rid society of poison that contaminates? The answer is glaring us in the face.

The conversation on BoisLocker Room is not only sexually explicit but also talks about sexually assaulting their girl schoolmates. Girls have been mentioned by name and their physical attributes discussed in a most lecherous manner and judgements made on their character based on the boy’s read of their friendly manner. This is the concept of fun for the boys (students of a reputed school in Delhi and its satellite NOIDA) on the Group.

The administrator of BoisLocker room told the police during interrogation that he had set up the Group for “fun” during the Covid-19 lockdown and to pass time as he waits for his class XII results. What can be more telling of the flawed mind set of these teenage boys who are being groomed to be the elite of the country with high profile jobs later in life and playing leadership roles?

The boy’s confession to the police and probably to his parents highlights how obnoxious and criminal behaviour of boys and men towards women continues to be pardoned and taken with a heavy dose of leniency by our society under the garb of it being “normal”. Boys will be boys is a refrain still often heard and significantly held out by a veteran political leader of Uttar Pradesh as an explanation for one of his party workers charged with the molesting a woman.

That is why there is no reason for shock over the Bois locker Room incident. Yes, all of us should be furious and there can be justified anger. But why should there be shock considering we are all aware of the chronic lethal elements in our culture that refuse to be erased despite the soaring heights our girls and women have achieved? Vile language for girls, gossip about them and a locker room bravado about the men’s escapades (often fictional) with ‘loose hot chicks’ has been for eons a popular form of entertainment amongst the most educated in offices, men only huddles, colleges and now even schools. The only change is that the content has steadily become more vulgar, explicit and unabashed.

Women can play a constructive role in course correction by refusing to join the men when they indulge in slander and sexually explicit conversation.