Growing up, almost all girls have had the experience of when they were in elementary school, rushing to an adults arms with tears streaming down their face. A boy has just pulled on your pigtail or scribbled on your picture. Or even called you stupid. You cry into that adults arms until they reply, “it’s just cause when a boy’s mean to you, that means he likes you”!
Then you start accepting the name calling and the pushing. You maybe even enjoy it because that must mean the boy has a crush on you.
A little boy calls a girl stupid and pushes her. A man calls a women stupid and pushes her. What’s the difference? At what age does this no longer become tolerable? When’s the shift?
Girls grow up hearing that this is an acceptable form of being treated, and boys grow up hearing that this is an acceptable way to treat others. That this is an okay way to be treated by someone you love. That this is an okay way to treat someone you love. But it isn’t.
Yes, one might say “it’s not that serious, they’re just little kids” and “boys will be boys”.
However, the experiences you learn during early childhood development can shape your adult life. Research has been done to understand the influence negative experiences can have on adult relationships. In Psychology Today, psychiatrist and psychoanalyst Grant Hilary Brenner states that, “Early trauma shifts the trajectory of brain development… The earlier the distress, on average, the more profound the effect.” That actually incidents that occur at a younger age of an individual has a stronger impact on a person's identity formation. At an early age, you begin to learn what actions are okay and what aren’t okay. You can fall into a pattern where you allow this mistreatment of others and of yourself.
And the classic, “boys will be boys” saying shouldn’t excuse anything. This kind of dismissing of bad behavior impacts a person’s lack of responsibility for their actions for forever. In a Huffington Post article, Courtney Enlow states, “here’s the truth about “boys will be boys,” the corollary that’s never said out loud: If boys will be boys, girls will be assaulted. Boys will misbehave, and women will bear the brunt of it.”
Why should a little girl accept the idea that a boy is being mean to her because he has a crush on her? Why should women be okay with men being disrespectful? Why do we excuse a boy’s behavior and leave the girl suffering?
It’s a new age, where women are no longer silent. Where #metoo has encouraged women to speak up about their abusive experiences. Women are no longer putting up with the double standard excuses of actions based on gender.
So what to do now? Let’s start by teaching boys at a younger age to not bully others, and to respect girls. Instead of making an excuse for him, or trying to please the little girl by telling her that he is just calling her a bad name because he has a crush on her, pull aside that little boy and tell him that this is not how you treat girls. Or anyone for that matter. And if you do like her, be nice to her.
Style & Repeat