“BOYS will be boys,” a dreary slogan we’ve all heard at least once in our lives. It is quite upsetting and can be a dangerous label. I have heard it in primary school when boys fought or showcased violent behaviour.
I have heard it in high school when boys broke the hearts of girls in relationships just to showcase to their friends that they can “catch and keep this one.” I have heard it on the streets when boys and young men cat-called women when they’re passing. I have heard it a lot and I am sick and tired of doing so. It is exhausting to even think about.
The saying “boys will be boys” is an excuse. It is an excuse for males to behave how they want when they want without having to worry about consequences because they’re protected by their gender. From an early age, we were taught this. A part of me always wanted to hear, “girls will be girls” whenever I did something mischievous when I was younger. To my dismay, I never did, but two wrongs can never make a right. I was disappointed. Disappointed, because from that tender age, even though I did not use the coined term, I discovered “male privilege.”
No, this is not an exaggeration of the truth. It is actual male privilege. If you’re a female and this is not your truth, then please note that our experiences are then different. I do not expect everyone to agree with me, but I know some women and girls share the same sentiment as I do. I was never allowed to hide behind my gender and identity when I behaved in a certain manner; aggressive and “warrish” to be exact. “Girls are soft,” “girls are gentle,” “girls are kind,” “and girls are quiet.” Says who?
This type of mentality translates into other aspects of life as we grow. It develops into stereotypes that we somehow have to mould and reshape ourselves into. The minute we refuse to reshape ourselves to form these expectations, we are not one with society anymore. Little “tomboyish” girls grow up to be rude and ‘un-wifeable’ women.
Quiet boys grow up to be gay men. Angry girls grow up to have “daddy issues.” Shy boys grow up to be the one with the least girls around. Or, so they say. We don’t have to live up to any of these expectations. I am not saying girls should be excused for behaving unmannerly because boys do, I am saying that we should not allow gender to be an excuse for our behaviours anymore.
We need to start teaching our sons the same things we teach our daughters. If girls have to grow up with a long list of expectations and restrictions, then why the same can’t be done for boys? It is definitely not a man’s world, at least not anymore. Women like myself and many others are viewed as “rude”, “disrespectful” and “piggish” because we refuse to ‘act a certain way.’ I am outspoken, bold and brave; that does not make me less of a woman and should not make me look more like a man. I am just me.
Stop using the term “boys will be boys.”,, It is just a front for, “boys will be entitled to unacceptable behaviours, because we enable them to do so through gender and social expectations.” “Boys will be boys” but who will girls be? We have to live up to images that we refuse to become but to succeed, sometimes we have no choice. Girls were always the standards society sets. We were never girls, just social reflections.
Let’s change that. Let us encourage women to be expressive of themselves. Let us also teach our men that “more aggressive” does not equate to “more masculinity”— but rather, toxic masculinity.