We’ve all heard of that saying. “Boys will be boys.” Growing up, that’s one of the most common lines my friends’ parents mentioned whenever a boy pulls a girl’s braid, steals lunch money from nerds, bullies kids with glasses, and many more among others.
When I was in 2nd grade, I told my mother about this fight I got in with a boy. She consoled me and helped me heal from the wound I got (a cut lip because he kicked me) but she also told me that boys will be boys. That they get into fights all the time, never considering if you’re a boy or a girl. Back then, that line didn’t mean anything to me but now, I realized that she never did anything to contact the boy I got into a fight with. But how is that relevant?
It’s relevant because my mother let it be. She didn’t react directly, which was calling up the boy’s parents. Maybe having a talk with them or at least doing something to show that she does not tolerate such behavior. Nothing. See, this is why there are so many issues on rape culture right now. I’ve just described to you such a simple situation that runs deeply when talking about rape culture. It is always about staying silent and condoning the terrible acts of men, and blaming the victims instead. There are so many complaints about men and too much shaming towards women. Because of what? Because no one really bothered to check the root of the problem: boys.
I honestly hate the values some religions are teaching because of their subtle but strong advocacy of rape culture. I once had a friend that told me about the practices of the people in the country they live in when it comes to clothing. Men are free to dress in a comfortable manner but on the other hand, women have to dress fully clothed with their head and half of their faces covered. When asked why, I was told that it was because women were the cause of temptation. Hair can cause temptation. I think I almost lost my head because that was the most perfect example of rape culture. Getting tempted because of hair? Really.
Any regulated dress code from bikinis to burqas assumes that men are weak, impulsive, and untrustworthy. Yet, we know men can be strong, disciplined and trustworthy. Dressing for success is dressing without this sexism.
― Christyl Rivers
I respect the practices of these cultures but I strongly believe as well that I’m entitled to my own opinion. I really don’t think that dress codes for any religion would even be necessary if only families (and the whole of society) would stop promoting rape culture. If only each and every family would devote their time to reminding boys that consent is needed before sex, that women are not objects, that women are meant to be respected and that women don’t exist for the pleasure of men. But what are they teaching now? Yes, they’re teaching boys not to look up a girl’s skirt but they only tell you that if you’re in elementary. Yes, they’ve successfully taught that rape is not okay but to what extent? Most men don’t even realize that screwing a drunk girl because she was wearing a skirt is already rape. Society teaches all the wrong things. Instead of teaching boys not to look at a girl’s chest because it’s rude, girls are taught not to wear revealing things to avoid being ogled at. Instead of teaching boys that skirts or provocative clothing is not code for “asking for it”, girls are forbidden to wear what they want (read: bikinis, skirts, etc.) because they might get raped.
Women, in general, have the bad end of the stick because of rape culture and because boys will be boys. Women have less freedom to be who they are because of this, because they have to be wary of men who want nothing from them but sex. If we continue to tell everyone that “boys will be boys”, the sexual crimes that happen are never going to stop. Rape is never going to end as well as sexual harassment and molestation among others. As long as we stay silent and condone these wrong acts, men will never change their perspective about women and sex.
Which brings me to think that, no, boys are not boys. Boys can not be boys. Boys have the option to not conform to society’s idea of a boy–sexual beings who can’t keep their sticks to themselves. But how? If you have a young male member of the family, start teaching them now. Whatever you teach kids, if ingrained enough in their heads, they will bring to the grave. If you’ve got male friends, remind them that rape is not okay and it is never the victim’s fault. Remind them that a woman’s clothing choices and makeup don’t reflect their need for sex. Remind them that harassment is never wanted and is always rude. Remind them that catcalls are threatening to a woman. Remind them to ask a woman if they want to have sex before actually doing it. Never condone rape and sexual objectification.