By Jonathan Thompson
The saying “boys will be boys” has always annoyed me, but I was never totally sure why. It wasn’t until recently that I figured out why the phrase bugs me so much. While on the surface it seems the phrase is innocent, its implications are broad. “Boys will be boys” is a phrase rooted in sexism that only serves to enable unacceptable behavior. By dismissing poor male behavior as simply boys being boys, we set society up to persist as patriarchal and damaging for all. Everyone, regardless of their respective sex, should be called out for unacceptable behavior—including presidential candidates.
I believe that Donald Trump is a direct result of the attitude surrounding the phrase “boys will be boys” that we have all at one point or another heard or said. During the last debate, the ease with which Trump threw out insults at Hillary Clinton was appalling to watch. His interjections and comments about topics completely unrelated to the position of president were equally alarming. While Trump has surely been receiving flack in the media for his shenanigans, this does not qualify individuals as non-enablers. Up until Trump became the official Republican nominee, many Americans simply dismissed him as a joke. Now that he the potential to be our next president, people have taken notice and concern toward his behavior, yet still so many are lined up to vote for him to represent us. This situation is problematic on a multitude of levels. Why did it take so long to realize how bad Trump is? Why were so many of us uninformed as to his long history of bad behavior that had been excused because of his wealth, fame, and status as a white man? These are questions I find hard to ignore as the election gets closer and closer. The truth is that Trump’s despicable rhetoric throughout his campaign has all stemmed from the undeniable truth that in the U.S., men are not held nearly as accountable for their actions as females–and often when they are, it’s written off as boys being boys. My question is why isn’t “girls will be girls” a phrase? At the very least if we want to enable poor behavior, let’s enable both men and women. Let’s give Clinton the same advantage that Trump has had in the past. I really think that so many of our current issues not only surrounding this election, but the world in general when it comes to misogyny, extend from the sentiment that boys will be boys, and thus they can behave as they please. Let us try together to stop this by holding each other to a standard of human decency that is acceptable and appropriate in the year 2016.
With regard to Donald Trump, I would not use the phrase, “Boys will be boys,” but rather, “Boys will be held accountable for their actions.” The next time you brush off a guy’s behavior as okay just because he’s a guy, please think about what he actually did and the larger implications of enabling improper behavior.