If last week’s grueling United States Senate Committee on the Judiciary hearings with Dr. Christine Blasey Ford and U.S. Supreme Court Nominee Brett Kavanaugh teach us anything, it’s this: boys need our help.
I watched part of the wrenching hearings in Baltimore, Maryland, at the Excellence in Journalism Conference with a room full of professional and student journalists whose eyes were glued to two large projection screens in the hotel convention hall.
While the room, nearly silent, was filled with the eager storytellers, the stage was set for panelists who were to speak on covering midterm elections in the Trump administration. The panel, scheduled to start at 4 p.m., was delayed by the audience’s anxious listening, and the room groaned when the panel began and the live stream faded from the screens. Understandably, the panel conversation shifted topics to the words just delivered by Ford and Kavanaugh.
One of the panelists said, more than the hearings will light a fire under the two parties to act, it will certainly encourage women to turn out and vote for or against their up-for-re-election officials who may or may not side with Kavanaugh.
Good for the women, I sympathized, nodding along in agreement. She was right, and I hope women in November head to the polls more than ever to vote their conscience. “But what about the boys?” I thought.
For some time now, feminist words, action and protests have united women everywhere, telling them to stand up for themselves and telling little girls to shoot for the skies. Don’t misquote me here; I’ll be the first to applaud that. But while this phenomenal wave of feminism has swept throughout the world, it’s left in its wake the flailing bodies of young boys — young boys who don’t know how to emote, who don’t know what it means to be a real man, who don’t know how to properly treat women.
Without a feeling of escape, boys turn to violence. Without knowledge of consent and respect, boys assault. Without evidence of true masculinity, they lash out. Did you know that since 1982, only three mass shootings were initiated by female shooters? Three. The rest are boys.
If that doesn’t make you worried about boys, you are beyond help.
We’ve allowed the feminist wave to leave our boys with ideas that real mean don’t cry, real men don’t feel pain, real men don’t suffer from mental illness and real men dominate in relationships. We have left the boys to think that they’re alone, that only the women require and receive help. While we’ve carried the torch for women past, present and future, we’ve left the boys to resort to this: Boys will be boys. And as long as boys keep convincing themselves that boys will be boys, we’ll never cease to have hearings like the one last week.
I need the men out there to hear this. The next time locker-room talk arises about a woman, take a stand and shut it down. The next time your friend drinks too much at a party and puts others at risk, step in and take him home. The next time you hear a woman courageously speak up and share her story of assault at the hands of a boy, believe her and applaud her for speaking for herself and other voiceless victims.
And for the love of all things pure and good — stop saying “Boys will be boys.” No longer is it OK to say you don’t mean it with ill intent. Stop saying it. Period.
I want to be clear: Feminism has remarkably transformed the lives of women and honored those who suffered in the past. Feminism has made me a better friend, human and man. I am a feminist yesterday, today and tomorrow; but I am so worried about our boys.
The boys need our help, and the men need to step up.