By ‘FiyinfOlu Falodun
“Leave him, boys will be boys.”
“It’s expected. After all, boys will always be boys.”
“Are you surprised? Boys will always be boys.”
It’s not strange to hear statements like these when a male, old or young, exhibits some eyebrow raising behaviour. They are excused based on the phrase “Boys will be boys”. Now, the question is, what is it that boys are expected to always be? Badly behaved? Inconsiderate? Bullies?
For a society that places a huge load of expectations on the female, the imbalance of behavioural expectations stands out glaringly. Why the double standard? Why do we look the other way when ‘boys’ behave some certain way and ‘girls’ are not accorded the same allowance?
When Gillette launched a new advert in January, the responses were as varied as our fingerprints. Let’s consider that advert for a few minutes. Various typical male scenarios were portrayed. Workplace male supremacy, fist fights, objectification of women, competition among men, etc. At the end of the advert, there’s a call to men to hold each other responsible.
Is the society responsible for the high rise in sexual violence? Are boys being raised to objectify women? Are they being raised to see transactional sex as a weapon? Are our boys growing with the impression that they have the sole control of sex and can demand, even take it forcefully, as they please? Let’s pause here to consider a workplace environment. Women are expected to put in four times the amount of work their male contemporaries put in, to be considered for promotion or be taken serious. After putting in this work, and she finally gets the promotion, there are still sniggers and whispering about her sleeping her way to that promotion. Indeed, it looks like either way, the female loses. She’s not considered able to achieve on merit. And, men have capitalized on that to place sexual pressure on women, even when she has earned a position/role/project on merit. Is this what it means for boys to be boys?
Has our society placed a demand of good behaviour on our boys? Where are the men, one is forced to ask? If boys are being boys, can men step up to the plate and be men? Can the men tell the boys that the human brain has no gender? Can the men tell the boys that the appendage between their legs is subject to the brain in their head? Can the men step up and tell the boys that catcalls, groping, smacking and name calling do not add an inch to their height? Are these really the best a man can be?
The time is here for us to demystify the sexual powers placed on the man. Consider a situation where two adults have consenting sex and for whatever reason, they choose to record the process. When things go south, the man is more likely to blackmail the woman with releasing the sex tape. Now, is she the only one naked in the tape? However, our society has placed the burden of shame on the woman alone. What Gillette calls for in its advert is for men to show boys that there are better ways to be a man than being a sexual bully or terror. The time is here for men to hold each other accountable for sexual aggression to women, no matter the age, position, influence or societal rank of the man. It’s time for the man to show to the boy watching, that the control of their sex organ lies entirely in their hands.
No, boys will not always be boys. Boys will grow, mentally, physically, to be men and they will be required to take responsibility for their actions towards other men and women.
Photocred: The Boston Globe