The #metoo movement has impacted nearly every woman (and several men) I know in one way or another, myself included. A new dose of reality set in for me when it came to light—via a brave woman’s testimony—that a man I have known for the majority of my life has been a Grade A creep with
no less than 100 HUNDREDS of women (that we know of so far).
I use the term “man” loosely here because his behavior does not qualify him to be what most of us would think of as a Real (and good) Man.
The stories that women have stepped up and shared go back 5 years…10 years…some even close to 15 years.
My experience with him? That started close to 20 years ago. 20 Years. When there was no doubt about what to call him: he was a boy. And the excuse for his creepy behavior then?
“Boys will be boys.”
I’ve spent the better part of a day soaking in what has happened and as more and more victims of this unwanted attention speak out, I’ve come to realize a few things:
- Those of us who have known him for the majority of our lives all knew him to be more than a little creepy on occasion. But, we all thought he was harmless or didn’t fear for ourselves at all because we knew him well.
- Social media did this guy absolutely no favors. The farthest back I have seen people write about as the beginning of their experiences with him, date back to when social media really started to become a fixture in our lives. While many of us saw social media as a way to build community and keep connected with others, he saw it as a way to expand his creepy reach. And he cast that net FAR over the years.
- I feel guilty for having never said anything. Am I what’s wrong with women today? Because I never said anything? No. That’s not my burden to carry. And it’s not yours either if you ever find yourself in a situation like this. But it is precisely this thought that led me to think critically about the phrase “boys will be boys,” as ultimately that was the subconscious scapegoat myself and so many others I know felt when faced with the predatory version of this guy.
And you know what? He received and believed that same “boys will be boys” message that what he was doing wasn’t really that harmful. Thus the behavior continued…
Why does all of this matter? Why did I go down this thought rabbit hole?
Maybe it’s because it is truly shocking how many women have come forward.
Maybe it’s because I’m terrified of the number of women still too scared and ashamed to admit #metoo or step forward out of the darkness of shame and into the light (
I’m publishing this post anonymously, so I FEEL you on that one, sister Consider this MY step into that light).
Maybe it’s because I’m the mother of a son and I can’t stop thinking of his mother, whom I know so well.
I’m certain it’s all of those things and more.
The problem with a “boys will be boys” message is that these boys become adults one day (notice I said adults…not men).
Adults who have more access to people, places, and things…and less supervision of their behavior. In circumstances like these, if they are excused or not really held accountable for their actions as boys, they will never learn how to behave as Men.
I brushed his behavior off as a child and as an adult myself. I never held him accountable. I made the excuse for him and ignored the potentially bigger problem. I all but reaffirmed, albeit not in exact words, the “boys will be boys” message.
I’m not saying that message he received is the only reason he did these things. That responsibility lies solely on his shoulders.
But again, that message is far too dangerous and one I want to be desperately aware to never give my child.
Because one day, my child will be an adult.
And no adult should ever use that childhood adage as a qualification for choosing their harmful behavior over an adult understanding of right and wrong.