“Boys will be boys” is a phrase that has long been ingrained in society. It is often seen as an attempt to explain problematic behavior from young boys and men. Whether the behavior is inappropriate aggression or poor impulsiveness, it is, at its core, an excuse. It is an excuse for men and boys to act as they please. It is an excuse for men and boys take no accountability for their worst behaviors. It is an excuse that has been normalized by our culture to brush off disgraceful behaviors without consequence, because after all, “boys will be boys”, and it cannot be helped.
So long as this phrase, and the mindset it comes with, persists in our society, gender-based violence will remain an issue. This can be seen clearly with the Brett Kavanaugh allegations. Kavanaugh, a supreme court nominee, has been accused of 3 separate sexual assault cases that occurred when Kavanaugh was in both high school and college. However, many public figures have come to Kavanaugh’s defense, including the President of the United States, saying such behavior is unrepresentative of the man Kavanaugh is now, and that the accusers should be discredited because she did not report all those years ago, so how could it be true? This rationale excuses perpetrators of sexual violence and encourages society to turn away from serious claims.
Now is the most important time to address these issues. Only 1 out of every 3 rapes is reported. And out of every 1,000 rapes that do get reported, 994 rapists walk free, according to Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network and Bureau of Justice Statistics. As a society, we must believe survivors. We need to move away from discrediting stories of sexual abuse and instead listen with open ears. Upon hearing brave disclosures, we cannot continue to dismiss these allegations as irrelevant or untrue. We must believe survivors, and the excuse of “boys will be boys” must end.
By James Meng, Manali Jama, Yahriel Salinas-Reyes, Alex Song, Rodney Washington-Norris, Ethan Ung, and Nathan Ung of Monsoon’s Violence Prevention Program.
This document was supported by a grant by RALIANCE, a collaborative initiative to end sexual violence in one generation, made possible through a commitment from the National Football League (NFL). Its contents are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of the NFL.