It’s Time to End the Phrase “Boys Will Be Boys” Once and For All
It’s over guys. The time to sit on the sidelines is well past.
As men, we are obligated to condemn coy, smirking, “playful” threats like this against women, AOC or otherwise. Behind these “jokes” lies real violence.
As with locker room talk, this kind of “joking” doesn’t mean all the boys or men who act in this way are violent abusers of women, but it most certainly creates a culture in which violent abusers hide and operate freely. Moreover, it reinforces a dominant culture of masculinity in which women are viewed as less.
The Centers for Disease Control estimates that one in five women will be a rape survivor, yet, when we raise the alarm about photos like this showing clear evidence of an abusive culture of manhood, we’re being told “Hey, boys will be boys.”
But who is acknowledging how coldly premeditated this cardboard cutout of a sitting Congressperson is? Are we to believe these smiling boys took the time to put on identical t-shirts, create this cutout, and pose with it on their own? There is approval and encouragement behind the camera here, by other parties.
So, let’s clearly understand the meta message here. Boys will be boys means we are expected to accept a culture of masculinity that is defined by the most aggressive and abusive among us, as a culture of bias and inequality against women, people of color, and so many others.
When we see a photo like this, we’re told, “Lighten up, it’s youthful mistakes. We all made mistakes when we were young.”
As men, we change this poisonous masculine narrative NOW by calling out abuse like this whenever we see it. We must stand up for what is decent and human and right. How else will young men understand their responsibilities to each and every other human being? How otherwise will they break the man box culture cycle of bullying and abuse in their own lives?
When we excuse abusive behaviors like this with pat phrases like boys will be boys, when we continue to stand by in silence while this goes on, we are utterly failing our sons, and all the women in our lives, in every possible way.
Mark Greene is the author of The Little #MeToo Book for Men.