Boys will be….come dangerous men

*The above is an excerpt from my book Reclaiming My Soul – the real terror facing us is, and has been for a long time, violence against women.

I was trying to find a more PC way to start this article – but I cannot, so I will stick with my non PC line.

One of the greatest risks to global security is the notion that ‘boys will be boys.’ Your son doesn’t have any uncontrollable need to release energy or temper that your daughter doesn’t also have. You just taught your daughter better and let her get away with less.

Your husband or boyfriend doesn’t have less control over his sexual urges than you do – he like the boy child is simply not held accountable when he acts like a cave man. He knows better, he can do better – but when no one is holding him accountable and there is no penalty for poor behaviour, why would he? Men know either consciously or subconsciously that they already have women standing in the role of scapegoat for their bad male behvaiour – with even murders and rapes being blamed on the women having the indecency to walk home alone, to wear what she chooses and wanting to enjoy a cocktail or three with her friends. With no accountability for their actions, and a globally accepted excuse of ‘boys will be boys’, there is no real incentive for behaviour to change.

Oh, and let’s not forget, women are really tired of explaining this. Picture this scenario: You are being a misoginistic tool but you are doing so ‘in a calm voice,’ (which is to say talking over the woman in front of you). The woman then raises her voice to you in frustration because you are not listening. You then fall back to that convenient line: “Women are crazy. She is an overly emotional, irrational, crazy bitch.” No dude, I just been saying same damn thing for ten years and you aren’t fucking listening. Damn. Y’all are naturally louder than us. We actually need to yell to be heard at times. Further….. yelling HURTS – ain’t no woman doing that for no reason. She is tired of waiting to be heard. Yet, society has built in excuses for you.

Imagine for just a moment that we held all people accountable for their actions. We made little boys clean up after themselves the same way we made girls….. we insisted that teen boys be as competent at baby sitting as teenage girls. If we STOPPED telling teenage girls that is was both appropriate and even necessary to date boys a couple of years older than themselves to ensure he was mature enough. “Girls mature faster than boys. 16 year old girls and 18 year old boys are about the same level.” What if instead 18 year old boys acted like an 18 year old should, NOT like a 16 year old?

Imagine if our response to boys fist fighting in the play ground wasn’t ‘they are boys,’ <shrug> but was ‘keep your hands to yourself.’ We insist that little girls in the play ground have the skills to settle things verbally – are we as parents and teachers so poor at our jobs that we can’t teach boys these skills? We know men can talk – they mansplain shit to us all the time … imagine if we REQUIRED boys at school to use their WORDS to resolve fights not their fists…Then later, we actually held drunken men accountable for harassing women in bars, groping women, raping and fighting. Yes I said drunken… because a drunk man SHOULD be accountable for his actions. Drunk or tipsy women are held accountable for the actions of drunk and sober men when they are attacked. But… what if from day one – boys, young men and grown ass men were held to the same standard as women and girls?

I look at all of the men in leadership, and those who I am grateful no longer hold said leadership positions…. I look at the oppressive structures which favour the male – particularly the privileged white male – in our societies and I wonder… If more boys learned key words like NO when they were children, would we have fewer problems.

Take an imaginary walk down fantasy – yet entirely attainable – lane where we live in a world where boys understand words like no, as girls are expected to. They wouldn’t be sexually assaulting women…. which would improve the lives of the 1.5 million Australian women who have reported being assaulted over the last ten years (please note use of the word reported, this number doesn’t included the women who have endured in silence). Imagine a country where 1.5 million women were stronger and safer? I do not believe it is possible to consider even for a second that this would not improve the nation for every single human.

Imagine that we did not have leadership positions held by people who abuse and assault women. Imagine if every man in leadership looked at women as equal and valid humans – and were held accountable if they failed to do so. Do we not think this would dramatically improve the lives of all people? I have gone into board rooms and have males in the room texting their mates under the table commenting on the length of my skirts rather than listening to my presentation. (It’s a small town fellas, people talk, and I know your mates – they dobbed you in before you were done jerking off). Firstly fellas, that is rude. If someone is talking, you aren’t texting – you are at work, act like a professional. Also, why do you think this is even remotely acceptable.

This behaviour is often dismissed as ‘Typical male, thinking with his dumb-stick.’ That’s just a variation of me not punishing my son for punching a boy at school saying ‘Boys will be boys.’ Men behaving disrespectfully towards women at any level of business and getting away with it is unacceptable. This allows for an acceptance of inequality between the genders. When society accepts inequality – and do not for a moment think that this is a ‘possible’ thing that may happen in Australia – IT HAS ALREADY HAPPENED, it is happening, it has BEEN HAPPENING. Women are considered and treated as less than – and our laws, policies and social structures support this.

The use of ‘boys will be boys,’ as a dismissal of poor male behaviour is a seed of inequality which we as parents, teachers, adults and grown humans plant in our sons and daughters. Four words which pave pathways down which boys walk into manhood never being required to consider the rights or needs or desires of women. Pathways which girls follow into womanhood, carrying the additional weight of compensating for the allowed shortcomings of their male peers.

Imagine that men didn’t hurt women – imagine they knew where boundaries were. Imagine they were taught that child-rearing and house hold talks were their job and tok time and energy, and that girls voices were important in the classroom, just as women’s voices are important in the boardroom. Little girls raise their hands and women wait their turn to speak in meetings – it is completely possible for males to do likewise …. they just are not required too because boys will be boys.

The thing is – while I am talking about creating a huge global change which will balance the power scales and reduce pain, hurt, suffering and inequality. It is also incredibly simple. We often laugh and say that no one is wiser than young children, ‘Oh, from the mouths of babes’, they see things so simply. For some reason, unlike babes, we adults seem incapable of seeing things simply. We teach children not to think in this manner and then insist that we cannot solve problems of equality. We actually can… Kids aren’t born racist. They aren’t born sexist. Kids do not come into this world believing that they are entitled to more than the other babies. We teach them this…. and we start young.

We teach kids that girls are more responsible – by expecting more, requiring accountability and forgiving less. This also teaches children that girls and women should be held to a higher standard and punished harshly if they do not meet expectations…. Leading also to a huge emotional load on women, slut shaming and blaming us when we are raped or assaulted.

We teach boys that fighting is okay, that they can’t possibly control their hormones and that they are not expected to do so. Girls will be held accountable for their wrong doings. Boys will be boys we chant.

What we should however be doing is very, very simple. Teaching boys and girls that they are equally accountable for their own behaviour. Starting young. We should hold boys to the same standard as girls. Easy. Simple. You daughter and my son at the same should be held to the same standard. She should not be expected to be more mature and competent than him – and to excuse any inadequacy he may have based on ‘boys don’t mature as fast.’ He should be required to step up. Your daughter should be entitled to demand more.

If we think boys are less mature and capable than females – why do we not change the legal age for driving and voting by gender? If we truly want to hide behind the excuses of ‘boys will be boys’ and ‘girls are more mature’ – well then boys shouldn’t vote until they are 25 or have a learners driver permit until they are 20. If you demand more of the girls – give them credit and some advantages. You aren’t going to do this…. so I would like you to repeat after me:

Men are entirely capable of not raping, murdering, intimidating and assaulting women. Women manage to not murder, assault and rape men every day…

I spend a lot of time pondering what we can each do to make the world better…. usually the answer is pretty simple – be nice.

Published by Josie Young

Josie Young is a writer, an activist and a lover of food, stories and stormy ocean skies. Previously a community project manager, Josie is also a full time mother and a free lance ghost and feature writer and editor. Josie Young holds a Bachelor of Arts in International Relations and Public Policy (2007), a Masters of International and Community Development (2009) and a Masters of Humanitarian Assistance (2017).

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