Monday, February 06, 2006

The Trouble with "boys will be boys"

Teacher Deborah M. Roffman writes about how the phrase 'boys will be boys' enforces a less=than-desirable stereotype:

"Not too long ago, I confiscated a hat from a student's head that read, "I'm a Pimp." This once-derogatory term is a complimentary handle these days for boys whom girls consider "hot." I asked the boy whether he would wear a hat that said "I'm a Rapist." Totally offended, he looked at me as if I had three heads. "Duh," I said. "Do you have any idea what real pimps do to keep their 'girls' in line?" Yet the term -- like "slut" for girls -- has been glamorized and legitimized by TV, movies and popular music to such an extent that kids now bandy it about freely."

Yet from her perspective, adults are often clueless about how destructive these ubiquitous images and messages can be for boys. She notes that it too often takes patient coaching for them to see "boys will be boys" for what it is -- an insidious and long-neglected character issue: People who think of and treat others as objects, in any way, are not kind, decent people. It's bad enough that boys are being trained by the culture to think that behaving in these ways is "cool"; it's outrageous and much more disturbing that many of the immediate adults in their lives can't see it, and may even buy into it.

1 comment:

Kevin T. Keith said...

You are certainly right. However, as regards the phrase "boys will be boys", I think I've most often heard it used to defend "roughhousing", lack of discipline, and other "boyish antics" - not sexual offensiveness.

If people are really excusing that kind of behavior as "boyishness", then we've defined masculinity downward to a dangerous degree.