It’s hard to believe that anyone would make a joke about rape. Even drunk, high, fucked-up beyond belief, it’s truly astonishing that a human being could mock a rape victim in such a degrading and horrifying way like we’ve all seen in the viral video starring Michael Nodianos. But he did, it was taped, he tweeted his own “wise cracks” and Anonymous took their brand of vigilantism all the way by exposing him as he drunkenly “joked” about the incident.
But hey, Nodianos wasn’t part of this alleged “rape crew,” so we can’t get too mad at him, right? Unlike fellow students Trent Mays and Ma’lik Richmond, Nodianos wasn’t charged with anything, so him making light of the situation with a bunch of his buddies is totally acceptable! Why? Because boys will be boys, and that’s what boys do; or at least this is what society has taught us.
Boys are made of “snips and snails and puppy dogs’ tails,” while girls, as we know, are made of “sugar and spice, and everything nice.” Boys are dirty, immature and only think with their dick; they’re primal in their behavior, sexual, aggressive and if the jails prove anything, they’re far more prone to violence than women. But they’re boys; this is what boys are, this is what they do, and for that we should dismiss their actions and words. It’s their gender that gives them permission to get away things that women never would, and it’s this persistent mentality, this allowance of acceptance of such an antiquated belief that has created a monster issue within our society. From bullying to rape culture, “boys will be boys,” is often an excuse, and it needs to stop.
As I read everything I could get my hands on when it came to the Steubenville case, it was in the comments section of a few sites where I found the real disgust. It was one thing to watch a video of Nodianos hard at work trying to make his friends laugh with his vulgar and horrifying “jokes,” it was even further stomach-turning to see Richmond’s mother tastelessly post “Free speech this one for u get to let a whore b a whore Lmao…” on her Facebook wall, but what really pushed my already seething temperament over the edge were the comments from strangers that dismissed Nodianos’ behavior.
Although our comment section here at TheGloss didn’t share the opinions of some commenters on other sites, I was surprised to see the following two comments, in particular, on Jezebel:
“This is just boys being stupid because they are too young to understand the seriousness of the situation.”
“Yes, it’s tasteless and twisted and offensive. But as far as we know, it’s also just talk. As awful as these guys are — particularly the leading player, Mr. Buckeye — they are not necessarily the same guys who perpetrated this awful crime or were part of the so-called “rape crew.” They’re probably just a bunch of dumb high school kids, most likely drunk and/or stoned, making terrible jokes.
And as hard as it may be to admit it, this is how most people deal with tragedy when they’re among friends.”
I’m sorry. Come again? Are we excusing them? We have “just boys being stupid,” and “this is how most people deal with tragedy when they’re among friends.”
I don’t know about you, but I know a decent amount of people who are both stupid and have dealt with tragedy, and none of them would respond to a rape in such a way. None. Not even my most macho male friends who shift their balls every 10 minutes and puff out their chests to prove their manliness would ever say the things Nodianos said, and they’d definitely never do what Richmond and Mays have been charged of doing.
When news of the New Delhi rape victim reached the rest of the world, it was she, especially within her culture and country, who was blamed. If only she hadn’t been out at night or had been carrying chili powder, her rape and her eventual death from the vicious brutality her fragile body endured would not have happened. These were actually thoughts and statements that were made. It wasn’t about men behaving badly when they leave the house, it was about women not leaving the house because men are going to do what men are going to do. Men are predators and the only way to protect yourself is to avoid them; again, this boils down to “boys will be boys,” and with that notion, permission is granted.
“The ‘boys will be boys’ mentality needs to die right now,” said my mother the other night as we discussed the Steubenville gang rape. I could hear her get choked up as she continued, “I’m 66 years old and I’m sick to death of this being an excuse that’s used whenever a man does something that is fundamentally, ethically and morally wrong. It’s their ‘get out of jail free’ card.”
And she’s right.
In continuing to embrace the phrase, “boys will be boys,” we are contributing to the problem. We’re not just further dividing the genders, but insulting men at the same time. With a permission slip to act “badly” based solely on their gender, we’re not just belittling all of us, but we’re setting a low standard for men. It’s as if we’re saying to all of them that it’s OK to act like an animal, it’s totally fine if you disrespect or violate someone, that’s what your gender does; THIS IS WHAT WE EXPECT FROM YOU. But shouldn’t we expect more? Shouldn’t we all, both men and women, be held to the same standards of what is right and wrong? Should I really have to pose this question in 2012?
Biologically, men and women are different. This is a fact. Studies will tell you that internally how we deal with emotions is completely different as well, that women are “fairer” and men are “stronger” in that regard. I’m not sure I’m at liberty to agree or disagree, because I take most studies with a grain of salt, and they change often before we can truly grasp them.
However, as human beings we know right from wrong — we are the same in that capacity. Those who cannot understand the difference are psychologically categorized as “sociopaths,” and are hopefully treated for this mental dysfunction. But the rest of us, those of us who are present members of society, know the difference in how to act and how to treat not only our fellow human beings, but ourselves. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know that rape is wrong, and any 5-year-old will tell you that hurting someone or doing something to someone else against their will is bad.
But in continuing to pat the heads of the boys in our life whenever they do something stereotypically “boyish,” is just a means of promoting “boys will be boys.” Boys might not be this version of “boys,” if it weren’t for society setting the bar so low and labeling each mistake with this phrase. Has anyone considered that in stripping “boys will be boys,” from our vocabularies, we might be able to stop the injustice of both thinking so lowly of men, and maybe even protect women from actions that are the result of this mentality?
Enough. We need to kill this phrase. We need to subtract it from our minds and our tongues, and kick ourselves every time we feel it creeping up the back of our throat. We can no longer perpetuate this thought even a second more. Excuses are weak; we need less of them to protect us from our bad behavior. No one should get a pass on rape, or even joking about it drunkenly just because of their gender. No one.
Photo: Alte Fotografien der Kinder