Will boys be boys?

Recently when I mentioned being called a slut, one woman’s response was, ‘Boys will be boys!’ It’s a common enough phrase in any conversation dealing with a male’s actions, and implies that although the action is not really appropriate, it can’t be helped because it was a male doing it.

I’m not even sure where to begin with describing my issues with this phrase.

We say ‘Boys will be boys’, and ‘Men are such pigs’, or write with deprecation about our significant others, calling them ‘MM’ which stands for ‘mere male’. Are we not, with these expressions, tacitly accepting and allowing the behaviour we ostensibly condemn? We are not only describing men to women, but to themselves. We are saying this is what men do. Not only is it sexist – being cruel or stupid isn’t exclusive to men – but it’s permissive.

‘Boys will be boys,’ we say to each other, but when do we say to the boy, ‘That isn’t acceptable’? Boys learn from a very early age that it’s okay for them to be violent, to be rude, to be destructive. Boys will be boys! No! More accurately: Indulged children will be brats. It’s not okay to set a lower standard, or in any way a different standard, for one gender. Gender does not and should not exclusively dictate personality and behaviour. Even more certainly, it should not dictate our reactions to behaviour.

People will behave in accordance with the expectations upon them: for praise, and to avoid censure. We must improve our expectations in order for behaviours to improve. No more gender-based excuses.

6 thoughts on “Will boys be boys?

  1. KezUnprepared says:

    Oh, I am so on the same page as you!!! I refuse to say it about the Little Mister (22 months), especially when he’s acting quite overly boisterous or a bit feral (during arsenic hour usually). I refuse to say it full stop. I hate it. It’s insulting to men (like the MM thing you mention) and it’s accepting less than we deserve as women.
    I want to raise my son to never think that’s an acceptable reason for anything.
    I am living in an area where we are surrounded by a lot of FIFO feral guys (as opposed to the civilised ones) and footy heads who use this all the time. Nothing angers me more than when their partners just excuse their bad behaviour as “boys will be boys”. NO. Selfish, sexist, violent and degrading people are selfish, sexist, degrading people.
    End rant haha.

  2. Andrew says:

    I agree, and I think it links with how are culture treats sex and sexual organs in a very juvenile manner which results in terms for perfectly normal body parts being laughed at when young (and old) and then turned into terms of derision when people are older.

    I’ve been wondering what Andrew-isms there are for when I insult people. I think usually idiot and silly-billy.

  3. tattoomummy says:

    I completely agree with this as well. On more than one occasion have I corrected people about “Boys will be boys” – just because my son has a penis doesn’t make it okay to hit or hit or punch or yell when it’s not appropriate.

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