Why #GirlsLockerRoom Shouldn’t Be Used as an Excuse to Absolve “Bois Locker Room”


Why #GirlsLockerRoom Shouldn’t Be Used as an Excuse to Absolve “Bois Locker Room”

Illustration: Freepik

While the entire country sits at home in a lockdown during a pandemic, Indian Twitter has been blowing up for the past two days over a controversy that began when a misogynistic Instagram group chat populated by teenage male students of elite South Delhi schools was outed for the demeaning, vulgar, and, in some cases, illegal messages exchanged therein. The “Bois Locker Room” controversy, where the teens spoke about “gang-raping” their classmates, has led to the Delhi Commission for Women getting directly involved in seeking action against the boys in the group, an FIR being filed with the Delhi Police, and one member of the “Bois Locker Room” being detained by the police at the time of writing.

However, as with every viral story on the internet, there was an equal and opposite reaction. After #boyslockerroom was trending at number one on Twitter on Monday, the next day saw another hashtag gain traction: #girlslockerroom. Under this hashtag, more screenshots were shared, accusing the girls who outed the “Bois Locker Room” for indulging in offensive language of their own, making homophobic comments, and demeaning other girls.

These new screenshots immediately led to a predictable wave of knee-jerk reactions, where the offensive content on the “Bois Locker Room” was immediately mitigated in some people’s minds by the fact that since the girls weren’t perfect victims, they were partially responsible for what transpired in the groups.

There were many more tweets like the one above, as #girlslockerroom began gaining traction, climbing to the top of India’s Twitter trends. Meanwhile, ripples continued to be felt on social media, as one user found a video of a boy calling out the girls who exposed the “Bois Locker Room” for posting what he saw as inappropriate content on social media. In a tone-deaf moment, he told the girls that they should “be like Sita”, forgetting that even Lord Rama’s wife faced suspicion from society on her return from Lanka, despite having remained faithful to her husband and being the ideal woman in every way.

What needs to be made clear is that while the language and tone of the screenshots from the so-called “Girls’ Locker Room” is absolutely unacceptable, it does not absolve the boys of their own crimes. The two should be viewed as separate incidents and treated as such, while keeping in mind that both are offshoots of the same culture that perpetuates servility for women and supremacy for men.

Though the girls who called out the “Bois Locker Room” may not be innocent of all wrongdoing themselves, their conduct should not in any way serve as an excuse for the boys’. As one user on Twitter put it, “We SHOULD have more conversation about male harassment, but not ONLY as a reaction to female harassment.”