We bring up our boys and girls in an all pervasive rape culture where boys are raised to ENTITLEMENT and girls to SUBMISSION . Sometimes it is subtle and at other times explicit in both formal education mores in school and the verbal and social transmission of education at homes.
“Boys will be Boys” is the idea used as a dictum for normalization of several things. For instance, boys’ sexuality blossoming too rapidly in middle school is a topic parents shy away from considering. The boy enters into a box of rehearsed patriarchal learning and a script to abide by for the rest of life that says, license for sexual activities is to be taken for granted. . That teaches him, once “the adolescent sex drive is triggered”, even he himself isn’t responsible for where it leads him to and taking ‘No’ for an answer becomes an impossibility; I paraphrase from ideas by feminist scholars in Literature.
Normalization of a licentious , free-wheeling sexual exploration that is allowed and acceptable to boys creates a position of the male as the active and the female as the passive. Hence in the future, with regard to any disputable sexual interaction between a boy and girl, the boy is abstained of guilt while the girl is presumed to have ‘asked for it’. Even in cases of clear evidence to abuse, the girl is first seen as the bearer of guilt and blame.
This is because female sexuality is a taboo thing, if explored by the female herself. It is at the mercy of men to be tampered with, even exploited. Hence the huge pop culture industry of India normalizing rape language in songs and erasing the need for ‘consent’ in portrayal of man-woman relationships in movies,” kudiyon ka laga hai “buffet”, Jo chahiye, Karlo choose”, and this song coming from a successful youth movie with a WOMAN director.
Girls and boys grow up singing these songs and unconsciously plotting in their consciousness a sense that women are “meat” for display, for “objectification” , for “physical gratification”, for “lustful enjoyment” as it were, and that “ piece of flesh” has no right to say “NO” , thus rehearsing the patriarchal script of rules over and over again.
Young girls if found to be consuming adult literature are penalized hard, but for young boys parents look the other way for the same so called “ violation” committed : its just a part of ‘growing up’ because “ boys will be boys” after all.
Video games, advertisements to movies to classroom cultures, everything enables harassment, normalises objectification of women and erasure of consent on the part of the woman; Case in point, an attempt to pass as innocuous and commonplace, the ogling at women( read another’s wife) with a sexual perspective while you are at a mall shopping with your Own wife by your side, in the name of the very popular adage, “ MEN WILL BE MEN”.
When young boys lust after their female teachers in high school and hold competitions inside their groups about who shall be the first one to ‘woo’ her, it is a toxic culture of masculinity being shaped where right from adolescence, boys see women no better than objects of sex. While female teachers are asked to dress “non-provocatively” to class; making the fact seem permissible yet again that an elder teacher by sheer dint of her appearance only, stands at risk of being evaluated in terms of only her sexuality in class. What she speaks of or teaches, fails to matter. At every step of growing up, we stigmatize female sexuality for both boys and girls and make it seem okay to punish or penalize it.
Females are only regarded as passive bearers of everything sanctimonious or paradoxically unholy on earth. Hence all slangs and cuss words are shaped after them and abusing their specific body parts. And Education as a whole helps perpetuate the status quo. Girls are checked for skirt lengths and all girl’s schools add male sections to it’s high school classes but at the same time check interactions between boys and girls.
It is high time we stop thinking of our daughters only after horrific crimes have been committed. It is high time we start checking our boys right from childhood and openly discuss sexuality with all sexes and genders. It is time we stop fitting them into strict binaries and inculcating hate in them for anything ‘feminine’. Because RAPES AREN’T ISOLATED EVENTS . They aren’t committed by ‘degenerates’ but by the men we have raised. Men in roles of lovers, boyfriends, friends, even family. Rapes take place every 15 minutes in this country. It’s high time we probe their reasons and stop deferring accountability by calling them the acts of a ‘sick’ minds. Ordinary, otherwise perfectly normal men commit and are capable of committing rape. Rape stems from one and only one thing: control of women’s bodies and minds and reducing women to nothing more than flesh. It’s high time we check everything that aids the act: from the language our boys use to the jokes they think it is okay to crack or comments they feel are acceptable to pass in order to sound ‘cool’. The ‘cool’ has always been in favour of sexism and misogyny. Let’s change that first.