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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at U Mass Amherst chapter.

“Boys will be boys.” We’ve heard it since we were young, maybe even before we began school. But what exactly does this common phrase mean? There are plenty of people who say these words without realizing their true power, and there are others who tag along, unknowingly adhering to the stereotypes and biases that we place on boys and girls.

This old saying is most recently used for the benefit of older men, specifically our new Supreme Court Nominee, Judge Brett Kavanaugh. In recent news, Kavanaugh sits at the forefront of a controversial sexual assault that took place during his time as a student at Yale University. The accuser and sexual assault survivor, Christine Blasey Ford, claims that Judge Kavanaugh tried to rape her when they were both in high school as young adults. Upon the accusations, two supporting women also came forward and claimed that Judge Kavanaugh had also sexually assaulted them. So, where does this leave us with the phrase “boys will be boys”? Well, the real question is when do boys stop being boys and actually take responsibilities for their actions no matter if they are sober or under the influence?

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According to Healthy Children.org, the stages of adolescents are between the ages of ten to nineteen years. At this age, children are intellectually capable of understanding what is morally right and what is morally wrong in the world. They are able to function within social norms and understand the consequences that come with each action they choose to do, sober or not. Why then, do so many people suggest that any of Kavanaugh’s actions, or ANY teenage boy for that matter, are justifiable under the idea that “well, boys will be boys”?

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In general, “boys” is a term used for those who identify as the male gender, no matter the age. But there becomes a great difference when it’s used for its literal meaning and when it’s used to simply group all men together. 

Boys should have consequences for their actions at any age, especially after they know the difference between morally right and morally wrong actions. As a girl who is around the age that Christine Blasey Ford was when she was almost raped, it alarms me that so many people do not care about her and use the fact that Kavanaugh was just a “kid” and may not have understood the situation. This is just not true. Any child that is acting in a dangerous, risky, or aggressive behavior is fully aware of what may become a consequence of that action at any level of seriousness. Yes, I agree, that something like cheating in a self regulated game of baseball is something that could lead to boys get worked up, but when someone is attempting sexual assault, I just do not see the overlap of mentality.

If you think that “boys will be boys” when it comes to sexual assault or any sort of violence, then you are implying that you do not care what happens to the girls at that age. The grief, embarrassment, and post traumatic stress that any girl may be feeling — you are denying her emotions. You are saying she is wrong for feeling harmed by the situation that could hold her back emotionally and physically for the rest of her life.

You can read this to agree or disagree with, but maybe it will allow you to explore and use different wording to articulate your point better. In anyway, I hope that this just starts one conversation! Brett Kavanaugh is just an example of a larger problem that is found in our American society as well as many other countries.

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Annie Norton

U Mass Amherst '21

A current sophomore at UMass Amherst who enjoys rom-coms, late night at Berk, and reading a book in her hammock. Follow her on instagram to get to know her even better @annienort0n
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