On toxic masculinity

On toxic masculinity

I must be doing something wrong.

I’m 49 years old. I’ve gone all 49 of those years without ever having been accused of assaulting a woman. Mostly because… I’ve never assaulted a woman.

In the Trump regime, it seems that disregard for women is a job prerequisite. The latest example is Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, who denied ever assaulting a young woman in high school. This woman, Christine Ford, came forward this weekend, standing behind her accusations. Now the GOP line has gone from “It didn’t happen” to “It was so long ago” and the ever hoary “Boys will be boys.”

As I tweeted out last night, “boys will be boys” is toilet papering your principal’s house. It is not sexual assault.

Or, maybe I’m wrong.

We have a culture in which it’s expected that boys will treat girls as less than them. That girls have utility only insofar as they provide boys with pleasure, affirmation, and obedience. This culture is changing ever so slowly; but, as we’ve seen this weekend, it still clings on for dear life. The fact that many women buy into these tropes gives it added strength.

When someone says “boys will be boys”, that person posits that it’s natural for boys to be violent, abusive, even criminal. “Boys will be boys” excuses sins and misdemeanors. We saw this in action in the absurd sentence meted out to Brock Turner, the Stanford rapist, by a judge who felt that “boys will be boys”. This phrase is one of the most pernicious in regards to women’s equality. And it shortchanges men, making them seem irredeemable, subject to animal desires. A society which accepts a certain amount of violence from men is quite simply a sick society.

Women like Prof. Ford are a minority. Many women, seeing this culture, decide to not come forward, to bury their trauma deeply within them and never speak of it. Because, after all, boys will be boys. There’s nothing to be done about it. They will be attacked and pilloried for ruining a man’s life with baseless accusations. Or, if not baseless, then she must have done something to tempt the man.

I don’t know how this will play out in regards to the Kavanaugh nomination. But this isn’t 1991. Enough people are fed up with “boys will be boys”. Enough people, finally, are at a place where that excuse will no longer wash.



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