I can’t help but recollect what my college professor once told us about rape and its role in the Middle Ages. She said that the culture of Vikings was a culture of honour and woman were placed at its centre. So, if a woman was raped, it wasn’t an attack just on the individual but also on the entire household. Needless to say, the four-lettered word was always dreaded in most cultures, and even though we may have greatly advanced in terms of education and legal systems, we still fail at making our bearers feel safe.
Recently a shameful act committed by a few minors over social media sent shockwaves across the nation. To sum it up briefly, a group of boys aged 15-17 created a chatroom and used it to share, among other things, morphed photos of minor girls. When the affected females exposed these chats on social media, an investigation was initiated. Around the same time, a separate screenshot went viral, some speculate that it was in continuation to the aforementioned group chat. In this chat, there were talks about leaking private photos of the girls who had exposed them, along with the consideration of ‘seriously’ raping them. This is the ongoing saga of “Bois Locker Room”.
There were multiple instances where lines were crossed, with some being on either side of the two sexes involved, a grey area was created by the ones defending the boys. However, there was one act which was undeniably wrong – the thought of resorting to rape, and leaking of private photos, minors in this case. To explore the avenues that lead to such a situation, we need to consider the important facets of our culture which propagate patriarchy.
Media, in general, has played a significant role in defining the romantic behaviour of the binary sexes. Movies, especially the ones in Bollywood, have provided the younger generation with wrong notions of relationships. One of the most recurring plots that we see in the so called rom-coms of today is about the protagonist chasing a girl. After being eventually/inevitably turned down, it’s followed by the hero deciding to pour his heart and soul in the pursuit of ‘his girl’. So what is actually the depiction of stalking ( IPC section 354D) is easily passed off as a romantic gesture and hailed by the viewers as a necessary act to get women to submit before men. Also, the casting of the protagonists usually set the beauty standards quite high for the audience. It is impossible for everyone to pass the standards set. They turn into grounds on which girls are compared, body-shamed, and made uncomfortable in their own skin.
The father of psychoanalysis Sigmund Freud proposed the Theory of Personality. It consisted of three elements; Id, Ego, and Superego. All three of them work together to determine human behaviour.
Id is the component of personality which deals with the most primitive and basic needs, comprising of all sorts of desires, including sex. Superego is the component which is formed due to the morals and codes defined by one’s parents and society, making it the authority deciding the do’s and don’ts. Ego is the mediator of Id and Superego. It gratifies the needs of Id while conforming to the norms of Superego. It is the Ego’s responsibility to ensure that the Id’s impulses are expressed in a manner acceptable to the real world.
All the three elements have a different role individually but together they function to form the behaviour and psyche of a person. Needless to say, people are different and are also brought up in different environments, therefore, everyone has a varying level of acceptance and resistance. However, exposure to certain things can break the harmony between individuals and can make their personalities rewire. Like Ramanuj who developed a highly active superego due to a tragic incident in the movie Aparichit, there are tons of youth who are constantly engaged in immoral sexual and violent behaviour that will eventually alter their personality. Exposure to explicit and adult content, and watching excessive porn can bring out the basic instincts and alter one’s dominance of Id. It may make the unacceptable behaviours acceptable for them. And when this behaviour shows a scary trend amongst the masses, we can guess where things are headed.
From the very beginning, a number of religions had set the rules of patriarchy. To begin with, the God mentioned in the Bible said to Eve, the first woman, that the husband would rule over her. In Islam, an instantaneous and unilateral right to divorce is only enjoyed by men. The use of Hijabs and veils to ‘protect’ woman from the gaze of man did little justice to their freedom to choose. Hindus practised Sati wherein widows were supposed to die on the funeral-pyres of their husband as their existence without their husbands was considered to be futile. There was also a common narrative running in most religions, the supreme god in all these religions was male.
It is easy to understand how this turned in favour of the male gender. Generations of conditioning have made people sing to the tunes of patriarchy, suppressing the female gender, and in turn making it an accepted norm. This is how the male privilege has survived in our society and may continue to do due to the socio-economic advantages it enjoys. A male’s wrongdoing can be easily reprimanded if seen objectively, however, since it is a male holding the gun, it is the female who is blamed for standing in front of it. Victim Precipitation Theory explains how the actions of a girl can provide an excuse to her perpetrator but it cannot force him to act on his impulse. The actions are a consequence of the choice you make, and not what stimulus someone else provides.
These are just a few of the reasons that have given one gender more autonomy than the other. Each of the causes can be further studied deeply and it won’t be a surprise to know at how many instances the female sex was deprived of an equal opportunity or representation. I, personally, don’t knowingly condone such behaviour but male privilege certainly gives me a pedestal in the society. I can only try and relate to what you already have and will go through, but still won’t come close. What I can do for you is to help anyone and everyone as much as I can, so feel free to reach out to me whenever needed. If you require help anonymously, you can contact my friend’s startup IamEars. It’s an online community run by experts aimed at providing emotional/mental health related remedies.