I was a kid when my first #metoo episode came at the invading hands of a boy who was almost a man. I did tell, and the people I told believed me, but nothing else happened. Years and another #metoo moment later, I asked one of those people I had told why they had said done nothing.
“That’s just something guys do,” he said.
This week, as the debate about the veracity of Christine Blasey Ford’s allegations Intensified leading up to her testimony, I heard people of good faith honestly questioning her story. I know my own experience biases me in favor of listening to other potential survivors, but I can accept that, absent any physical evidence, these cases do come down to the credibility of each party. What I refuse accept is a familiar claim – that this is something all boys do – that has echoed as the debate has raged, .
Thirty years ago, my reaction to hearing the rationale “boys will be boys” — at the tacit expense of the girls — was impotent rage at a society where girls and women are supposed to accept that some of us will be collateral damage. Scrap.
A little over 18 years ago, I was pregnant with Thing1, having learned would be a boy. It was barely a decade since I’d come to a reckoning with my past, and the Big Guy was one of the few men whom I trusted.
I had always secretly hoped I would have a little girl, but the moment I found out a little boy was on the way, I knew I had to change my feelings about men. I couldn’t raise a man if I saw good men as the exceptions to an archaic rule steeped in privilege that dehumanizes women and infantilizes men. I had to start seeing every man as an individual with the same capacity for good and evil as women. I had to tell myself and, through my actions, my son every day that the bad acts of a few men did not define the man he would become, let alone men in general.
So when I heard yet another commentator on one of the news channels repeat a version of that toxic mantra, I felt angry for the women and girls who been and will continue to be collateral damage. I was also, however, angry on behalf of the wonderful men I’m privileged to know who would never see the act of violating a woman’s autonomy and humanity as a masculine rite of passage.
Most of the men I know have emphatically rejected that idea in person and on social media. Much has been said this week about how damaging that mentality is to women, but as a mother of men, as a wife of an imperfect but steadfast and caring man, I found the conversation has not only fueled by my own memories of trauma but anger at the idea that there are some awful things that boys just do because that’s who they are.
Some boys do, but I think most boys are better than that.