Boys Will (Not) Be Boys

June 7, 2017

I was running out the door on Sunday when I realized I’d misplaced my normal “carry with me” notebook. Frantically, I grabbed an old notebook from my dresser and began my hurried walk to my destination. About a half hour later, I pulled out said notebook and retrieved an old scrap of paper with unknown origins.

 

“BLOGS” was scribbled in all caps across the top. This was perfect. I wanted to do some writing prep today anyway. I kept reading.

 

“Let’s talk about how the whole ‘condescending’ thing isn’t cute or fun or flirty. A guy or girl being a jerk to you shouldn’t be a turn on.”

 

There’s fiery Liz, I thought. I kept reading and was greeted with plans for Day 2000 and kindness projects I wanted to work on. There’s scatter-brained Liz, I thought, laughing this time.

 

I folded the note back into the book but a few moments later I read over the top line again.

 

“Let’s talk about how the whole ‘condescending’ thing isn’t cute or fun or flirty.” Well…

 

So let’s talk about it. I’m speaking from the views of a straight female as that is my experience in the subject of love. And in my experience, as I’m sure for many of you, a familiar childhood scenario goes like this.

 

Girl gets picked on by boy on the playground.

Girls cries to trusted adult.

Trusted adult comforts girl by telling her that boy is only teasing her because he likes her.

 

From a very young age, it was just understood that if a boy was mean to you, it meant he liked you. If a boy was mean to you, he didn’t face any consequences. If a boy was mean to you, you weren’t taken seriously. If a boy was mean to you, it was sweet – it was his way of showing you he cared. That’s not okay. In any world. At any age. If a boy is mean to you, get out.

 

My entire life I’ve seen people make excuses for the boys in their life with the age old adage of “boys will be boys.” As a little girl, I couldn’t sit with my legs open because it’s not lady-like, but Billy can be rude on the playground because “boys will be boys?”  

 

I don’t like the current climate of our world where boys are excused from the consequences of their wrongdoing because of their gender. I don’t like the excuse of “he teases you because he likes you.” That only makes it okay for Billy to be a jerk. That means Julie has to accept it. That means Julie isn’t allowed to stand up for herself. After all, that’s not lady-like.

 

It seems harmless when kids are little, but look what it turns into. According to the organization Love is Respect, one in three adolescents in the U.S. is a victim of physical, sexual, emotional or verbal abuse from a dating partner. I have two brothers. That’s one of us.

 

This violent behavior typically begins when youth are between the ages of 12 and 18. If for the first 11 years of your life you have been told that Billy being a jerk was just because he likes you, how are you supposed to know how to react when he becomes more aggressive when you’re 13 or 14? How do you know that you’re allowed to say no? How do you know how to walk away from something that has been portrayed as “normal” your entire life?

 

I have always been very blessed to have some amazing guys in my life. I have also seen what not-so-amazing guys can do to a person’s psyche. I recognize how something like “boy will be boys” sounds harmless but I beg you to look at the bigger picture. It’s not about blaming an entire gender or segment of the population. It’s about holding people accountable for their actions – no matter what their gender identity or sexual orientation.

 

Let’s start with the basics: If you like someone, be nice to them. I’ve been trying to figure out where to go from here in this paragraph but I think it’s literally that simple. Just be nice.

 

Someone treating you like garbage is not cute or funny. There is no excuse for any form of abuse and it is not your fault. For more information, please visit the National Domestic Violence Hotline’s website and specially their section on teen dating resources.

 

You are beautiful. You are smart. You are strong. You deserve to be treated as such.

 

Love always,

Liz

 

 

 

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