Recently, I had a talk with my granddaughters about what is appropriate and inappropriate to say or do when with friends. They are 7 and 10 so it is expected that this discussion is not only necessary but will be repeated a few times during their childhood. The discussion centered around, if you must close the door, if you cannot say or do the same with your friends at school, if you cannot demonstrate or repeat what you have said/done to your teacher or at the dinner table, it is inappropriate and unacceptable. Whether another child or an adult is attempting to engage you in such actions, you need to leave the room immediately and inform an adult that you trust, of the situation.
As more conversations are coming into the spotlight related to “locker room” antics between the “boys”, I am saddened to realize that in 2016, there are people who still believe that a “locker room” culture should exist and we should continue to perpetuate the same. Apparently, there are those who see nothing wrong with “boys being boys” especially when they are the school jocks, rich, or popular. This subculture is encouraged to treat women as objects with little or no accountability.
As a society, we are broken!
There seems to be a belief that there is nothing wrong with a few guys drinking at the bar and saying disparaging things about women. Among the boys, it seems to be acceptable to nudge each other and discuss how you would “handle” a random woman in the bedroom.
Well, I will tell you specifically what is wrong with this attitude and these types of conversations and why they must stop.
First and foremost, a woman rarely reduces a strange man to the girth or length of his penis. Woman rarely stand around nudging one another discussing, if they could get Guy X alone, they would do this or that to him. Women rarely call a man into their office to suggest that sexual favors will help him move up the professional ladder. I am not saying this does not ever happen, but it is rare. Also, if women do talk about a guy, he is usually within her circle of acquaintances, the conversation takes place with a trusted friend, and it is done in private with the promise of secrecy.
Women do not generally seek approval from their friends through discussions of over inflated sexual prowess or their ability to “handle” a man, especially a random stranger.
On the other hand, males frequently judge women “worthy” or “not worthy” based on their bodily dimensions, length of their legs, size of their breasts, or the ampleness of their hips or ass. Society continues to deem this behavior acceptable because, “it’s just boys be boys”, they do not really mean anything by it, or “what woman does not want to be desired by a man?” I heard this one recently, it is just what guys do. How can you be mad at them for being boys? There is also the repeated mantra, it is harmless chatter.
Well, this woman and many others like me do not find any comfort in this behavior and societies acceptance of it. It is anything but harmless. This behavior does not make us feel desired, it makes us feel disgusted, as though we are proper of the random boys who make these comments, even though they have never met us. As other boys hear the stories that have no consequences, they are encouraged to do the same.
What comfort do I get from a random stranger only seeing me as a “p***y”? This does not make me feel desired, it makes me feel sick. It makes me want to retreat from society.
Furthermore, what gives boys the right to look at women as a group and categorized us based on a “sexual criteria” that is flawed and biased in every possible way. This “criteria” is created by boys who believe that the more sex they can drag into a conversation, the more manly it makes them. The more they can sexualize a woman, the better they feel about themselves and the more macho they look to the group.
This woman finds this behavior to be archaic, caveman-like. This woman finds this behavior to be the precursor that leads some to move the conversation from the locker room to the party room, bedroom, backseat of a car, or under the bleachers.
This is the behavior that ends up costing women their lives because they are unable to deal with the stigma that follows an assault by a “boy just being a boy”.
When these “boyish” conversations occur, as with any group conversation, there are varying levels of maturity in the group. Where many will walk away from the conversation and forget it, there are some who take it to heart. Given the opportunity, these are the boys who go to far. These are the boys who are having sex with girls who are too drunk or otherwise incapacitated to say no. These are the boys who believe that women are their property and we should “take it” and “like it”. These are the boys who believe that every woman wants sex without any regard for who the boy is or the time or place. Boys tend to believe that women lack gratitude.
Have these boys really gone too far?
Often, it seems other boys do not think so. Typically, following an assault, we hear, she should have said stop louder or he was just being a boy. Judges give boys community service but provide no support for the women. As a matter of fact, boys are frequently treated as the victim, The women are described as having “asked for it” or they should have worn more clothing or not been the only female in a group of boys, or should not have been out so late. Simply being a woman and existing in the world make us the property of any boy that wants to use us in any way that he sees fit.
It is all unacceptable and heartbreaking.
As a society, we must move away from the traditional ” locker room, boys talk”! We must stop seeing women as meaningless, sexual objects. This attitude is NOT okay. We must stop viewing women as property to take advantage of when and however a boy sees fit. We must hold boys accountable for their conversations as well as their actions. We must help them advance to the stage of a men.
Women also have responsibilities. As women, we must stop calling each other bitches and whores. We must stop joining in when others start the name calling. We must try and help women get through the aftermath of these situation. We must stop putting others down to feel better about our actions.
Even if a woman does willingly sleep with around that does not make her worthless or a sexual object to be abused. We must stand together to change society.
We must inform our children of appropriate and inappropriate conversations and behavior. They must know that when a conversation or an event is not going in a positive direction, to immediately leave and get help. We cannot have just one conversation, we must have 1000.
We must bring our children into this conversation so that the cycle stops.
How can we teach the next generation what is appropriate or inappropriate when we clearly do not seem to know the boundaries ourselves?
In order to teach our children what is appropriate and inappropriate, we must re-education ourselves. As women we can no longer accept this behavior. We cannot brush it off and blame ourselves (unless we are truly at fault). As men, you must acknowledge that “the good old days” are gone. The days when locker room talk rarely left the locker room are no more. Locker room talk has taken on a life of its own that can result in negative actions that cause horrible pain and it can no longer be perpetuated.
As men, get your mind in the right place, change how you view women because, as shocking as it may be, we are people too. We are more than our dimensions, more than our tits and ass, and definitely more than a conquest to tell the boys about on Monday morning.
Disrespecting woman is not a badge of honor.
*As I was writing this article, I struggled between the terms “boy” and “men”. As I was editing, it occurred to me that the term”boy” is typically used when a wrong has occurred and blame is being deferred. The term “man” or “men” is used when the event was respectful and pleasant. I decided to align with societies lingo.
UPDATE: This article and the included tweets are good to read. I know that there are men who grew up not viewing women as objects.
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