Dear Men,

 

Does the declaration, "boys will be boys" not bother you?

Okay, it's not all that bad. , "boys will be boys" has been used in very fun, harmless ways. It captures the ability of many men to retain that child-like spirit and have a good laugh about a lot of things. It conjures images of the "Cool Dad" who not only goes quad biking with his children, but does awesome stunts with them. I think of the boys in my high school who had the most fun themed dress up week in our final year, and if that were the only reason anyone ever said "boys will be boys", I would be fully with it.

But then there is that other side to the phrase that just makes me wonder why any man would be proud to say it out loud.

When used like this, whether said with a tired sigh or accompanied by a proud high five, it is almost as if, as a society, we have agreed that something about a man's nature does not allow them to be raised or socialized past a certain point. It implies that no matter what, the animalistic nature of men is more likely to overcome them and that is okay. Boys will be boys.

I do not know how many times I have heard people say it is a man's nature to cheat, that he is controlled by his physical impulses. "Men are visual creatures", they say. "Of course, he cannot help himself. Boys will be boys. " When a woman is dressed "scantily" (which could mean anything from wearing a bikini at a bar to having just her wrists and ankles showing as she walks down the street), we reprimand her. We tell her if she dresses like that, she is "asking for it" because, again, apparently men cannot control themselves.

When used like this, whether said with a tired sigh or accompanied by a proud high five, it is almost as if, as a society, we have agreed that something about a man's nature does not allow them to be raised or socialized past a certain point. It implies that no matter what, the animalistic nature of men is more likely to overcome them and that is okay. Boys will be boys.

As a man, does that not bother you? That we have so associated your gender with an incapability to have good morals and self-control that we even laugh about it? "Boys will be boys" is like the fun way of saying "men are trash. " Both statements can be used to refer to similar characteristics associated with a man's supposed nature, except one is more likely to get a fist bump out of men than the other. A man can force himself on a woman, and depending on how the story is told, either statement could be implied. Of note, "men are trash" is used to speak about more brutal manifestations of the characteristics that invoke one to say "boys will be boys. " However, the implication of a man's inability to control himself remains.

I ask again, as a man, does this not bother you? To be undermined like that because of your gender? To be spoken of like a wayward child or stray dog with no home training?

That we hold women to higher moral standards would also bother me as a man because what does that say about me? See, I am the last born in my family so as a child, I got away with a lot of things. After all, I was the "baby" of the house. If I broke a plate, it was my sister's fault because as Deputy Parent, apparently, she should have been watching me more closely. It also meant for the longest time I could pretend not to know how to prepare food for myself, so I could stay up past my bedtime under the guise of not having eaten. The excuse for allowing me to get away with bad behaviour was always the idea that I was "just a child" and you know, "children will be children. " No one expected me to know right from wrong or have my moral compass set, even when I knew better. The consequences of my actions were always relegated to someone else, laughed off, or when I did something embarrassing, like repeat family business in front of guests, someone else had to apologise on my behalf and slap my wrist.

Now I am older, and my family expects me to be raised enough to take responsibility for my actions. The "baby of the house" tag still stands but it is now used more as an excuse for my mom to try cuddle me half to death when she suffers from Empty Nest Syndrome. But somehow, this idea of taking responsibility for one's actions does not always translate when we excuse men for the wrong things they do. Boys will be boys. Instead, their wives, girlfriends and even random women anywhere take the role my older siblings played when they had to be Deputy Parents to me.

"He cheated because his girlfriend did not watch him closely enough. "

"He groped her because her dress was too revealing. You know how men are. "

I ask again, as a man, does this not bother you? To be undermined like that because of your gender? To be spoken of like a wayward child or stray dog with no home training?

But if you are bothered by these implications, and I hope you are, maybe then you can be the exception to the rule in your own life. You can take the time to think about the ways society failed you as a man by implying that you are a prisoner of your carnal desires and see where you can make the change.

A guy said to me, "Why would I be good, when society allows me to be bad? " That statement shocked me. It was shocking because it was so true. In many ways, men being bad is rewarded or ignored because it is expected. You can be called a lady's man even when what you are doing would have you called a whore or home wrecker if you were a woman. And yes, I can see how comfortable it is to be allowed such abdication of responsibility. After all, I enjoyed getting away with bad behaviour as a kid. The, "she is just a baby" tag was real fun until I got older and it just became patronizing.

But maybe you are unbothered by these unsaid implications of your manhood. Maybe I could have been more eloquent. But if you are bothered by these implications, and I hope you are, maybe then you can be the exception to the rule in your own life. You can take the time to think about the ways society failed you as a man by implying that you are a prisoner of your carnal desires and see where you can make the change. I do not think it is a man's nature to be bad, but rather the nature we nurture. To be an exception to the expectation is a powerful thing because it would mean you recognise you are more than just an animal whose sole responsibility is to be an ATM and bodyguard. And men are more than that. I just don't think society always recognises it or expects it.

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