Boys Will Be Boys

March 9, 2022

Boys will be boys. It’s a phrase that I’ve only ever seen used to describe the rambunctious, highly physical style of play, usually demonstrated by… well… grubby, grazed-elbowed and sweaty boys.

And yet, somehow, it has been co-opted to describe people who condone sexual violence toward women.

“Boys will be boys”, says the repugnant police officer to the woman reporting the crime.

But seriously – has it ever been used in that way? And if so, by who?

It’s a shame, because the behaviour it originally described, the roughhousing style of play, often led by fathers, is actually an important part of childhood – and ironically – teaches these boys about boundaries, consent and how to control their emotions.

“Don’t sit on your brothers head!”, “No means no”, “Stop doing that, it hurts!”, “Slow down!”

Beneath the muddy carpets, broken bed frames and aunt Nina’s cracked crockery, are real life lessons. Lessons that are internalised by children and carried into adolescence.

So what do you think about roughhousing?

And more widely, the important role fathers play in socialising children - particularly boys?

Is it time we took back this infamous phrase?

Washington Post Article

Images by Nate Johnson, Allen Taylor, Chris Chow, The New York Library and Evie S, from Unsplash.


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