Where have all the young men gone? As the women kept supple knees and grew muscles on their arms, mopping and doing chores, they were huddled inside Instagram chatrooms, ganging up on their classmate, plotting her takedown in “time-honoured” ways.
Why? Because she was cleverer than they were. She had opinions and a social circle. She showed inadvertent or tasteful skin. Because they thought they can. That last certitude sprung from The Rules the old “social contract” harbouring a whole, woman-supported belief system.
The boys’ agency was computer-powered flowing from smartphones bought them by their indulgent parents. But surely, boys will also be “bois”.
They have been for ages. Still, comes a time for reckoning. Poor family values, is loudly whispered. My family better than thine? Though isn’t it as first city biased, as craven, as comfort-loving, as “aspirational” and upwardly mobile as the next? Toxic masculinity?
Well, mothers, have you led by example? Haven’t you robbed your daughters of their agency? Repeatedly and without fail? Times they are a-changin’, because the young woman targeted went public to apologise, not for sharing her photos which are said to have “provoked” the outrage but for panicking and removing them. More power to her then. Counterintuitive as it may seem, only if girls “fight like her”, “the bois” will be deterred. There will be no cause for shame, suicide or other tragic consequence.
Call it class hate, or reverse racism, it is also a fact that micro- and macroaggressions by young are on rise. Perhaps, there is a churning on, in terms of gender. Just over a year ago, the then 79-year-old feminist, Germaine Greer, attended Jaipur literature festival.
On her way to the festival, she was taunted by a little fellow, no more than eight, standing beside her car window. He made rude gestures at Greer with his fingers pointing to his mouth expressing what was, given the mismatch of their ages and his prepubescence, no doubt the most generic but unmistakable of sexist intents.
We must forgive the redoubtable but momentarily nonplussed Germaine Greer for being unprepared to deliver the young one a lesson.
Indeed, if we don’t, we might be victim-blaming her ourselves. It did rankle with Greer though that she could not perform her duty, so she shared it at the fest.