Two hands bound together with handcuffs reading Patriarchy
Telling women to cover up or tone themselves down shifts the onus away from the men who fail to respect boundaries. Illustrations by (c) Reset Fest Inc, Canada


20 Things the Patriarchy Stops Girls From Doing

In light of 'Boys Locker Room,' some parents are asking girls to delete their social media accounts.

Earlier this week, thousands of social media users in India were up in arms after screenshots of an Instagram group chat called ‘Boys Locker Room’ were circulated. Filled with photos of women, some even underage, lewd comments, and objectifying content, the images raised alarm about the members of the group, most of whom were schoolboys from south Delhi. The widely circulated screenshots shocked viewers because of the slut shaming, body shaming, and highly sexualized nature of the chat. 

As news spread, many young women took to social media to express how unsafe this incident has made them feel and some said their parents had asked them to close their social media accounts after this. There has been a section of the population that downplayed the matter as regular banter between boys, and instead tried to pin the blame on the girls involved for sharing their nudes with boys and for uploading their images on their private accounts. 

Illustration of two hands holding on to jail bars

Even within the home, women are policed over what they can wear, how they must behave, to the point of being told how they must sit.

Instead of correcting men and their problematic behaviour, once again the onus has fallen on young women to police themselves, tone down what they wear, watch what they post on social media and this is just the tip of the iceberg.

To help paint a clearer picture of how patriarchy and societal standards impinge on women’s rights and freedom instead of holding men accountable, we asked women to tell us what they’ve been told or not allowed to do.

  • Don’t leave your hair untied because that’s not what “good girls” do.
  • Don’t stay out after 6 p.m.
  • Don’t stay out after 9 p.m.
  • Don’t stay out after 11 p.m. (See a trend?)
  • Don’t go out at all because girls should only exist within the four walls of the home.
  • Don’t wear makeup because you’ll attract men and that is bad (for you).
  • Don’t wear spaghetti tops or tank tops because everyone knows shoulders are distracting.
  • Don’t wear shorts because girls from good families cover up.
  • Don’t wear skirts because there are male family members at home.
  • Don’t ride alone in a cab because you need to be cautious.
  •  Playing with your hair is not allowed because you’ll attract your male professors.
  • Definitely don’t wear leggings because legs are meant to be hidden away under baggy clothes.
  • Never sit in an unladylike manner because your comfort is not important at all.
  • “Big girls” shouldn’t run outside. 
  • Don’t step out without a slip underneath your clothes because the more the layers, the greater the morals.
  • Girls shouldn’t whistle, they just shouldn’t. 
  • Don’t talk to boys because it can lead to other things
  • You can’t stand in the mechanic shop while getting your car fixed.
  • Not allowed to use social media before you turn 18
  • Be held accountable for the actions of men around you.

Also read: The Re:Set Guide to Teaching Children About Consent and Boundaries


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20 Things the Patriarchy Stops Girls From Doing