Manitoba·Opinion

'Boys will be boys' — and some know right from wrong

Have you heard the news? Apparently, teenage boys are predisposed to sexually assaulting teenage girls.

We deserve better than a shrug when boys behave the way Brett Kavanaugh is accused of behaving

We need to expect more of young men than actions like those Christine Blasey Ford, right, accuses Brett Kavanaugh of when they were teenagers. (Jim Bourg/Reuters)

Have you heard the news? Apparently, teenage boys are predisposed to sexually assaulting teenage girls.

Really. It's just a phase. 

At least that's what I'm hearing in social media nowadays.

Brett Kavanaugh (Donald Trump's nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court) was recently accused of forcing himself on a 15-year-old at a house party when he was 17. This has inspired a debate over whether this accusation should influence Kavanaugh's appointment, considering the incident was alleged to have taken place over three decades ago.

Some have opined that, even if the story is true, such behaviour is to be expected from testosterone-crazed adolescent boys.

We're talking about a 17-year-old boy in high school with testosterone running high. Tell me what boy hasn't done this in high school, please. I would like to know.— Florida Republican Gina Sosa

Former Florida Republican congressional candidate Gina Sosa, in a recent CNN interview, downplayed the gravity of the accusations, saying:  "We're talking about a 17-year-old boy in high school with testosterone running high. Tell me what boy hasn't done this in high school, please. I would like to know." 

See? They just can't help it. 

For the record, I am a mother to three teenage sons. One is 19, while the younger two are 15.

I have raised them to understand thoroughly the concept of misogyny. They know the phrase "no means no" and exactly how that pertains to male-female interactions.

They are kind, thoughtful people (to others, if not each other) and at no time would any of them entertain the idea that forcing themselves on a female is acceptable. They know this without me having to tell them, but I have told them anyways, ad nauseum. 

I have told them the stories of friends who live in the shadow of sexual abuse and assault — strong, competent, loving women who have been to hell and back because of the actions of men.

My sons are disgusted by these so-called "men": those who think that women exist simply to satisfy their immediate needs, willing or not.

Put simply, my boys know right from wrong. 

And then along came Trump, embodying every vile attitude towards women known to man.

He objectifies them, dismisses them, denigrates them, cheats on them and generally treats any woman who has the nerve to confront him on his Neanderthal behaviour with absolute contempt.

When Trump was recorded saying his "fame" meant he could grope random women's privates, I was disgusted, as were my sons. That his comments were dismissed by some as "locker room talk" was pathetic, to say the least.

Logically, we thought Trump would be shunned and shamed. Instead, he was awarded the presidency of the United States.  

The sad part is: it's not just The Donald that thinks the way he does.

Currently in the media spotlight are two different men in two seemingly different situations: Bill Cosby, who has just been imprisoned for drugging and sexually assaulting a woman (only one of a multitude, it is alleged), and Kavanaugh, whose alleged antics at that teenage house party, along with other accusations from his time at Yale, if true, paint a disturbing picture of his attitude towards women.

What lies at the root of these men's troubles is the same disturbing mindset: women are put on this earth for men's pleasure, plain and simple. Their wishes, well-being and rights all come second to the wants, desires and convenience of men.

In my opinion, the only difference between Cosby and Kavanaugh is that one came of age when it was socially acceptable to treat women as objects, and one did not. Not that Cosby gets a pass for his heinous behaviour. Sexual assault is inexcusable, no matter the aggressor's age, ethnicity, socio-economic status or gender. 

What I'm saying is that the idea that "boys will be boys" and that sexual aggression is a rite of passage for young men is patently ridiculous.

What if we said that teenage girls have an uncontrollable need to light things on fire, and that it was "just a phase"? That wouldn't fly, nor should it.

Accountability for one's behaviour is crucial, as is treating our fellow human beings as we would like to be treated. 

It's 2018, folks. The idea that half of our race deserves a pass for their bad behaviour because they are too young or too old or too ignorant or too insensitive or too deluded doesn't cut it anymore — not that it ever did.

That some would try to tell us that all young men are mindless animals who lack the basic self-control necessary to keep themselves from sexually assaulting girls and women is offensive.

I'm here to say that despite the Trumps and the Cosbys and the Kavanaughs of this world, they are not and will never be the norm. 

"Boys will be boys"? Not anymore, they won't.

We deserve better. 

This column is part of CBC's Opinion section. For more information about this section, please read this editor's blog and our FAQ.

About the Author

Jo Davies is a freelance writer and office assistant who is never at a loss for an opinion. She is currently writing her first novel, set in Jamaica.

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