“Boys will be boys.”⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
Why do we so often use this phrase, or “You know how boys are”, to excuse bad behavior? Society has come to accept the typical young boy to be rough, tough, dirty and gross. These cliche male characteristics manifest in adulthood as assertiveness, dominance, aggressiveness, persistence. With recent discussions about rape culture and the #metoo movement, this gender stereotype has been brought to the forefront. Society has normalized the passive victimization of females, blaming them for “putting themselves in compromising positions” by how they behave, dress or speak. Emphasis is on teaching girls how not to get sexually harassed, assaulted or raped. But what about our boys? I agree with and support the call to educate on acceptable behavior, especially for boys. It is understood that the issue of sexual assault goes both ways, but the vast majority is male on female.
Are the teachings of moral character an educational priority in our schools? According to an article in the Atlantic, there is a very pressing need for this, especially with teenage students. The article included results from 2012 Josephson Report Card on Ethics and American Youth which revealed that, “Forty-nine percent of students reported being bullied or harassed in a manner that seriously upset them,” and “57 percent of teens stated that successful people do what they have to do to win, even if it involves cheating.” According to the most recent stats taken from the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, approximately 1 in 4 women experience sexual assault or rape during their college career. From these findings, it is safe to say that the majority of kids today could use some moral guidance, and the foundation must begin at home.
Iʼm officially a boy mom two times over. I feel obligated to raise my boys to challenge this negative expectation associated with “boys will be boys”. My husband and I would be failing them to just assume that they already know how to treat girls and women. We will tell them that their inherent size and power advantage should never be used against a woman. We will teach them the principles of consent and appropriate touch, both giving and receiving. We will correct not only overt sexism, but subtleties like “you ___ like a girl”. And once they are a little older, I will read this to them:
Dear Chase and Carter,
When you hear “boys will be boys”, this is what it should mean to you: Boys will be…respectful, responsible, accountable, empathetic, kind, compassionate. You have an incredible example living in your own home- your father. You also have your grandfathers, uncles and Godfather. Watch, listen and learn from these men of God. They will show you how to treat women with dignity and equality…to be a king by respecting queens. They are the type of men you should strive to be. Love, Mom