THE PROBLEM WITH "BOYS WILL BE BOYS" CULTURE
I went to an all-girls junior high and high school so decoding the world and ways of boys was always mysterious, if not totally exasperating to me.
If a boy was mean, then that meant he liked you. If he threw something at you, then that meant he wanted your attention. And if he crossed a line and actually hurt you, well, more times than not the response from peers and adults was this: Boys will be Boys.
I am raising a boy and, hell no, it will not be okay for him to do any of the above without consequence. My husband and I intentionally question gender roles and norms whenever possible with a goal to be a small part of a larger cultural shift that does not accept the “boys will be boys” excuse-slash-party line.
Nancy Schwartzman is the director of the upcoming documentary, Roll Red Roll, which covers the controversial Steubenville, Ohio rape case where a group of popular, athletic, “good” boys gang raped and filmed an unconscious,16-year-old, very “bad” girl. Her film, like this article she wrote for Ms , calls out the institutionalized conditions of rape culture that normalize sexual assault, especially when committed by “good boys” onto “bad girls.”
“Good” boys again and again get absolved, especially when they’re affluent, come from a respectable family, or are white. They get bonus points when part of an influential fraternity or deemed a star athlete with a “promising future.” Too often, and time and time again, the focus of the narrative is on what a “good boy” or “upstanding man” the accused is, as opposed to the narrative belonging to the survivor. Too many times these boys grow up to become unfathomably powerful men able to act and assault with impunity; there are too many Harvey Weinsteins, Les Moonves, and Donald Trumps to name here.
While there certainly are times when someone is falsely accused, and you may fall in the camp of those who didn’t believe someone like Dr. Blasey Ford, it remains indisputable that there are too many systems in place that allow boys, and men, to commit acts of sexual violence without serious consequence. Wouldn’t it be something if those same institutions—schools, churches, athletics, media—worked toward dismantling the myth? Presented new ideas and ways to express and embody “masculinity?” Worked toward supporting a culture, for girls AND boys, that has zero tolerance for abuse?
This mama can dream. This mama can also act in tiny, or big, ways to raise her boy within a new narrative.