Bois Locker Room and the question that arises.
In this video, I haven’t spent much time speaking about the incident per se, because we all know it can’t get lower and filthier. We also know these ‘locker room’ conversations are not one off. But I am hopeful that going forward they won’t be that common.
This whole discussion made me question my own understanding of ‘commenting on people’ and ‘cracking jokes’. I spent some time pondering over it with some friends whose (very different, informed and progressive) opinions I value. And I have tried to articulate my thoughts through this video. I’d love to hear other thoughts and learn from them. We are all in this together. We can build a better tomorrow. We can Rise.
In case you cannot access the video, here is a transcript:
Amidst all the positive and progressive thoughts that are coming out of the Delhi incident, the one where a group of men stooped extraordinarily low while chatting about some women, there lies a genuine question: Where do we draw the line when it comes to making comments about people?
Personally, here is when I think we cross the line:
When we speak of someone in a way that discomforts them without their consent, or when we know it would discomfort them if they knew of it, or when we know it is stimulating a morally questionable environment, or when we know we wouldn’t be comfortable if someone spoke of us or our loved ones in the same way OR most importantly, when we decide to awaken our conscience and ask ourselves whether or not what we’re saying is outright shamefully offensive, condescending, hurtful and insensitive.
At times, these rules don’t apply. But then, our intent and tone come into play.
Let’s take some everyday examples of possible comments when we see a passerby who we think is hot.
Woman: OMG. I love his ass. It’s too cute.
Man: She has got the breasts of a goddess. They’re beautiful.
These comments may discomfort the other person if they’d heard it, or may make their day. But have an appreciative and positive tone.
What’s not okay?
Woman: I’ll rip his jeans open right now just to see that ass of his.
Man: Her tits are so huge, I think they’re calling for me.
These comments, on the other hand, are DISGUSTING and have a minimal chance of being appreciated.
Also, nobody has the right to decide what can cause disgust. To you, comments on your penis/boob may cause discomfort. To someone else, talking about their pimples/teeth/shape could have the same impact. It is not a science to be progressive, it is an art.
What happens when it comes to humor?
I have never drawn a line when it comes to humor – I think there is humor all around us – in our sexism, machoism, bodies, relationships, work and our failures – and, in my humble opinion, it is okay to use anything and everything to spread a laugh as long as you are in an environment where people know their shit, i.e don’t let it shape their thinking for the worse, where the jokes are voluntarily taken in the right spirit and where nobody is knowingly subjected to disgust.
We live in a world where we are confused between taking offence and not taking ourselves too seriously. There will always be grey areas and debatable conversations. We don’t know how many acid attack victims, physically challenged individuals, orphans, childless parents or even animals we might offend with our casual everyday comments. And the world would be a crazy place if we checked for all of that before speaking. But guess what, we know EXACTLY WHOM this whole outrage is against.
We know how to identify those filthy elements who consistently cross these lines with complete disregard for its impact on the victim or in society at large. We know it because we have let them thrive around us all along. Many of us didn’t have to wait for a # to trend for us to speak up against that pervert who proudly objectifies and degrades every other man/woman he/she speaks of. Unless you were too afraid of the grave consequences of raising your voice, you CHOSE to encourage it with your silence. You are an accomplice. You are just as disgusting. You kept mum either because you agreed, or because you valued your equation more than your morality or at least, more than the victim’s dignity.
Rape, sexism, misogyny and all those heavy words that I, as a man, don’t even have the power or empathy to understand fully.. are not consequences of some big events in history. These are seeds of bias, objectification, arrogance and condescension that we have all watered for years. I have too. But our privilege, our education, our connectivity, allows us to now identify these injustices and speak up against them. To stop watering the seed.
Most of us, no matter what our sex or sexuality, are guilty of not taking a stand against friends or family because we didn’t want to be that annoying ‘activist’. But it is that very activism that keeps us safe. It is what makes us human.
I am a learner and am trying my best to do so everyday. I do not fully understand gender and the issues that come with it, but this is how I see this issue today. If you have something to share that can shape my opinion for the better, I’m all ears.