'Toxic masculinity’ is not some exotic faraway term coined by a feminist who got out of the wrong side of her bed, it is a contemporary reality for most women.
The saddest fact about the recently exposed Boys Locker Room chats is that it involves minors too, with the rest just youths at the threshold of adulthood. All of them set to grow into misogynists for life, hating women from the bottom of their hearts.
One cannot enforce gender respect. That would take too much altruism, generosity, empathy, and perhaps precisely all those girly things they are avoiding in the first place. To be tough, exploitative, engaging only in transactional relationships, unabashed women-haters may be for some an avowed vocation in life and who can interfere with a resolve like that? But is it common sense to continue on such a ‘macho’ path when all genders inhabit the same planet, that is the question.
Even if the future is completely gay and babies can be made from mixing yoghurt with honey in a lab, deep-seated hatred for anyone gender can only self-harm in the long run.
The answer is not the Girls Locker Room chats either, where men are objectified for their looks or biceps; that is just escalating the madness. What is the point of winning a war of extreme prejudice? Nor is the fairer sex in favour of turning the other cheek.
Everything in society, from upbringing to literature and movies, needs an overhaul. What these chats reveal to us is the lack of evolution in male patterns of attitudes and speech, indeed the alarming regression and rigidity revealed at the very roots.
The need of the hour is to not just call out incidents such as these, but also to come up with relevant protocol in the educational system at a primary level so that inequalities imbibed at homes are corrected. To address these issues and bring about a total change, a systematic and comprehensive academic route must be followed. It is obvious that within homes, whatever the net income and however many women make up the total number of family members, people are only inheriting a certain conditioning. Without urgent corrections in basic attitudes, an organic course of violence follows every relationship, including that with the self.
‘Toxic masculinity’ is not some exotic faraway term coined by a feminist who got out of the wrong side of her bed, it is a contemporary reality for most women trapped with men – as fathers, husbands, brothers, sons – who have their masks firmly in place. These men are capable of looking overly caring, protective and passionate while operating as the most anti-women loons and louts.
Yes, those boys texted unforgivable stuff, airing their primitive little ingrown idiocies, but these are also timely eye-openers. And while we think up appropriate punishment for them, we also have to assess the damage families everywhere wreak on the fledgling generation by not respecting enough the women who are with them.
Now caught, the boys are repentant. But those not yet caught and will never get caught are still texting each other sick fantasies, reveling in their disrespect for women. The lack of meaningful relationships in their future only we can see.Shinie Antony is a writer and editor based in Bangalore. Her books include The Girl Who Couldn't Love, Barefoot and Pregnant, Planet Polygamous, and the anthologies Why We Don’t Talk, An Unsuitable Woman, Boo. Winner of the Commonwealth Short Story Asia Prize for her story A Dog’s Death in 2003, she is the co-founder of the Bangalore Literature Festival and director of the Bengaluru Poetry Festival.