Boys Can’t Be Boys Forever

Boys Can’t Be Boys Forever

By Belle O. Mapa

In case you might have missed it over the weekend, over in the virtual warzone that is Twitter, user Icha (redacting Twitter handle for safety purposes) publicly called out a group of college boys. These boys—whom I would very much like to mention though I can’t find them all on social media—verbally and virtually disrespected Icha’s cousin, a high school student obviously of minor age.

The replies to her thread were mixed. Many poured out support for Icha and her cousin, and even more stepped up to defend them. Other more problematic tweets came in support of the four boys. Soon, the girls were mobbed by threats and and further harassment. Eventually, they deactivated their accounts to avoid cyber-persecution.

This was the general opinion: that these kids would continue to be just that. Boys will be boys. To which others retaliated: boys will be held accountable for their actions. To which we can further: boys can’t be boys forever. Alternatively, these boys aren’t just boys. They’re irrational, egomaniacal, and sexually neurotic brutes that earned public scolding.

No human being with respect for his mother, his sister, his girlfriend—or any other woman for that matter—should speak this way. There is nothing remotely dignified in objectifying and hyper-sexualizing a human being. This is exactly what they were doing.

The moment a person places another fellow human being’s worth at the same level as their sexuality or their physical appearance, that becomes objectification. These brutes turned her into a spectacle, into a prize to win, a sex thing. I don’t care how many people came to defend them, citing this as an instance of cyber-bullying. I humbly beg to disagree.

If we can agree on one thing, it’s that pigs are best served roasted. These boys are not the victims. These boys are the perpetrators.

And you know why? Because this is a serious case of sexual abuse, intimidation, and harassment. Because they ganged up on her. Not physically, but virtually. And I can’t tell what’s worse. Where messages can be seen over and over, reread, screencapped, resent, reviewed. Where words can be seen and felt a hundred times over. Words that said to her: you’re not a girl, you’re not worthy of respect, you’re a plaything.

We need to call them out because it’s our responsibility as decent human beings to defend the dignity of others. We need to call them out because this kind of sexually-exploitative behavior leads to further problematic situations. Whether that’s rape culture or physical sexual harassment or cyber-bullying a girl into silence. We need to step in, not just as women or as mature and rational men, but as people.

And the moment this issue came to light, people didn’t unanimously flock over to the side of the woman. Words uttered by the mob further echoed those of the first offenders. What’s exceptionally revolting to me, a woman and a feminist, is that the mob that attacked this beautiful and innocent girl didn’t comprise exclusively of men. Actual women, actual girls said that this type of behavior was all right. That maybe these girls were just famewhoring their way to trending status on Twitter.

It’s appalling to even think that women who who are given such unwarranted and predatory attention would even want to use this for fame. Realistically, when a woman is sexually assaulted whether verbally or actively, then the last thing on her mind would be to get famous for it. Realistically, she’d want to hide. She’d want someone to understand how it feels to be treated like an animal, by an animal. She’d want someone to defend her against such brutish beasts.

If this is how boys talk then I don’t think boys should talk at all. If this is what locker room talk is, then I don’t think locker rooms should be accessible to anyone with a penis and a mouth. If this is how we want to normalize sexual harassment, then there’s clearly something wrong with the way we are raising boys.

Boys can’t be boys forever. Not like this. Not with the idea that they are entitled to their opinions on a woman’s body. Not with this disrespectful gaze they subject fellow human beings under. Boys can’t be brutes forever.

We need to call them out. Not because they should be mobbed—although my bias is that they deserve to be given a public beating. Not because we want to fight anyone remotely problematic in this day and age. Not because we want to tweet our way into the spotlight.

We need to call them out because it’s our responsibility as decent human beings to defend the dignity of others. We need to call them out because this kind of sexually-exploitative behavior leads to further problematic situations. Whether that’s rape culture or physical sexual harassment or cyber-bullying a girl into silence. We need to step in, not just as women or as mature and rational men, but as people.

We need to agree to fight against this sexist and misogynistic way of thinking. We need to agree on defending a woman’s right to live her life peacefully and wholesomely. We need to agree that women are worth more than their bodies. We need to be understanding, to be human, to treat women like real human beings too.

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