5 Ways The Girls Locker Room Is Different From The Boys Locker Room (While Neither Is Ok)

Soon after boys locker room became public, there have been people questioning similar girls locker rooms. While none is Ok, why is boys locker room worse?

Soon after boys locker room became public, there have been people questioning similar girls locker rooms. While none is Ok, why is boys locker room worse?

Soon after the contents of an Instagram chat group, “Bois Locker Room,” were revealed, and trended, “Girls Locker Room” is now trending. This latter chat group, said to be of a group of girls, features equally disgusting messages that objectify boys.

Girls locker room is just as wrong

The contents of the “girls locker room” are just as revolting and objectionable as the content of the “boys locker room.” However, two wrongs do not make a right, and the cultural context must be considered, before we lose sight of the core issue –rape culture.

The screenshots that have been shared, in addition to showing comments that objectify and sexualize the boys, also show some seriously homophobic and racist comments as well. The original poster has claimed that the group regularly shares “dick pics, shirtless pictures of guys they know, guys from Instagram including me. Rating them, talking about the size of their arms, dick print, how they’ll look while choking their necks, etc etc.”

Let’s be clear about one thing: What the girls have done in this girls locker room is absolutely wrong. There is no excuse for it.

Nothing justifies treating another human being as a sex object, or homophobia or shaming someone for their skin colour etc. Nothing excuses ignoring consent. Such despicable acts have real consequences for those who are at the receiving end.

This post is NOT about defending the girls involved.

Why did the girls locker room come up only now?

However, it is not okay that the “girls locker room” is being used to derail the conversation about the “boys locker room.” It is not okay that this is being used to discredit feminism as a movement, by claiming that feminists don’t care about the boys, or that they are okay with homophobia or racism.

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Which is why, let me say it, louder for the people in the back:
~ The basis of feminism is the equality of the sexes.
~ Feminism does not okay perpetuating the same oppression that women have been subjected to, on people of other genders.
~ Homophobia is not okay.
~ Transphobia is not okay.
~ Racism is not okay.
~ Casteism is not okay.
~ Ableism is not okay.
~ Discrimination on the basis of gender, sexuality, class, caste, religion etc is not okay. 
~ Also, two wrongs do not make a right. Just because girls also have indulged in such behaviour, does not make what the boys did less morally reprehensible.

Which is why the claims of “fake feminism” do not make sense.

The point is not to play “who is the worse offender?” but to get to the root of the problem –the rape culture that sustains and fuels such toxicity, and which harms everyone, but especially women, transpeople and those belonging to other marginalized communities.

However, without fail, those who want to discredit feminism, bring up such examples of men being sexually harassed, exactly when we are taking about sexual harassment of women. One would think that if they really were concerned about the rights of men, they would do this work at other times as well, without feeling the need to piggyback onto these conversations or attacking feminism.

Since it is out there, though, let me list the differences.

Normalization of harassment

No one is saying that what the girls in the girls locker room did is right. No one is saying “girls will be girls,” “we were all like that at that age.”

On the other hand, the boys from the boys locker room have been receiving support, even from some female peers. Somehow, the behaviour, which so clearly stands out as “wrong” for girls, is normalized for the boys. This is rape culture.

Victim blaming

No one is asking the boys who were objectified, “why did you share pictures like that?” “Why were you dressed like that?” “why aren’t your privacy settings stricter?” No one is telling them that they “asked for it” by posting their pictures online.

And that is a good thing, because victim blaming is wrong. Unfortunately, victim blaming is exactly what the girls are being subjected to, with every person questioning their decision to post their pictures online, as the young man does in this video. This is rape culture.


A lifetime of being shamed

Because the “honour” of men does not lie in their private parts, the boys who were objectified will not be considered “dishonoured.”

I am not denying that they may be feeling hurt, or ashamed at their pictures being used thus. These feelings are a normal reaction to a violation of consent, and they should not have to feel so.

However, society in general, won’t treat them like “spoilt goods.”

(There are other ways in which the attitudes of society towards men who have been harassed are negative, however. For example, they may not be believed. The idea is not to discount the suffering of such men, or to say that it is “easy” for them in any way but to point out that everyone who is harassed, suffers differently.)

Unfortunately, in our society, girls are supposed to guard their “honour” which is equated to their sexuality and their vaginas. Now, the girls who were objectified, will not only feel the same sort of shame, but will additionally have to bear the burden of “losing face.” Because of the aforementioned victim blaming, questions will be raised about their character, and they will be considered “loose” or “immoral.This is rape culture.

The consequences

There is an imbalance in the way the taboo around sex works in India. While it is a taboo for all, it is “understood” that boys have hormones and “such things happen”. Which is why, the boys of the boys locker room are likely not going to receive much punishment at all. Because boys talking about sex is “normal.”

In the popular imagination however, women and girls don’t have desires. Sex is not something they do, but something that is done to them. Women who talk openly about their sexuality are scorned and called all sorts of names. Which is why, the girls of the girls locker room are going to have hellfire rain down on them, because “chee chee, unsanskari girls.”

Again, the way both the groups spoke about sex, and objectified the opposite sex was wrong. However, sex and attraction are not wrong in themselves, and there are appropriate ways to express the same. It is a lack of inclusive sex education, and repressive attitudes towards sex, that make the problem worse. This also, is rape culture.

The fallout

The boys objectified by the girls are not going to be asked to quit social media. How they dress, where they go, who they meet etc won’t be policed. Parents are not rushing to “protect them” by drawing boundaries around them.

As opposed to this, girls who simply belong to the same school/college as some of the girls who were harassed are now being targeted by trolls, seeking to push them out of social media. Girls everywhere, not just the ones at the receiving end of the harassment, are being asked to shut down their Instagram profiles. Their clothes, their friends, their hobbies –everything is coming under scrutiny, under the guise of “safety.” This is rape culture.

This is why they are not the same

Which is why, the girls locker room, while horrible and disgusting, is not “the same.” The objectification is just one part of the harassment. No one is defending that –no one should be harassed, irrespective of gender, and it was wrong of the girls to do so.

One must however, consider how incidents like these fit within the larger systems, and realize that harassment is fuelled by rape culture, which affects women, transpeople, people from the queer community, and people from other socially marginalized groups differently than upper caste, cisgender, heterosexual men.

Rape culture affects everyone. It assumes that women are always to blame. It refuses to believe that men too, can face harassment, or that men who have been harassed are somehow “less masculine.” After all, toxic masculinity is a big driver of rape culture.

That then, should be our focus –to create a world in which people of all genders and sexualities feel safe. To move from an “us versus them” paradigm, to a “we’re all in this together” paradigm.

I sincerely hope that day comes, when articles like this one won’t have to be written, when both “boy’s locker rooms” and “girl’s locker rooms” don’t exist.

Image source: YouTube

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