The Recipe of Becoming a Man
My school, which for the record is one of the highest rated schools in my region, had a diverse mix of students. There was, however, a fundamental division: boys sat on one side of the room, girls on the other. This was a pattern until the fifth standard.
In those days, there could not be expected a sensible dialogue between the two divisions of the classes.
As boys gained access to easy internet, their circles became exclusive centers for disparaging the girls of the class in fantasies and group chats. Boys started sitting with girls, and in that started their first lessons in owning them.
Fights often broke out in playgrounds and corridors, as a contest to determine who would win the approval of a certain girl. I remember how once during recess in the eleventh standard, a boy from the other section barged in during a class and smashed another boy's nose into the desk for trying to hit off with a girl the former said was "his".
In our school, a certain group of boys curated fictional stories about molesting each other's sisters and mothers. These 5 boys were seen acting out noises and positions and explaining in gross details their imaginations.
In the tenth standard, this storytelling became more public. Lunch break was about listening to their lurid stories, and so was every break between any two classes. More often than not, someone from among these five would be found crying in the washrooms, but the next day his voice was the loudest, and his story the foulest.
Teachers were as nasty to the girls as they were to the boys, and maybe more so because only girls were always targeted for being "too engaging".
As romantic relationships started to develop, so did scandals. Yet always, no matter how big or small the issue was, it was always the girls' lapse of innocence. If a girl scored less, it was because she started tying her hair differently.
Slut-shaming was a common exercise, which was quickly learned by the boys in the class. There were occasions when our teachers humiliated the girls for being "characterless". Girls were tamed by humiliating them, and boys were let free.
I wish the teachers were more mature about handling students. Maybe if they had tried to be more conversational, it would have been better.
In reality, casual sexism and toxic masculinity are more dangerous than we think. They leave a long-lasting impression on the minds of young boys who grow up to be men too particular about their masculinity.