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Why 'Good Boys' Need To Stop Getting Away With All The Bad Things They Do

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Boys will be boys.

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Isn’t that what they say?

The words we’ve all heard so many times that we are so disgustingly sick of hearing them.

Boys will be boys.

And good boys will always be good.

I heard those words for the first time when I was seven.The boys in my class had for many days repeatedly, and loudly, been shouting, “Take off your shirts, show us your boobs!” to me and my friends as we were playing in the schoolyard. We had the same flat chests they had at the time, but their shouting, those words, and the way they said them made us uncomfortable — and we stopped playing. A few days later, when I had mustered up all the courage my seven-year old body could fit inside of its tiny frame, I repeated the story to my teacher. Her initial response was big, hearty laughter. The kind of laughter you have when someone tries to fool you but you won’t let yourself be fooled. Followed by, “Oh, don’t be silly! Those boys are the nicest boys in school, they would never say anything like that!” 

Boys will be boys.

And good boys will always be good, she told me.

I felt confused. Why didn’t she believe me? I heard my mother’s words in the background noise as she sat beside me and told my teacher that she knew I would never lie about anything like that, that her daughter wasn’t a liar. No, I wasn’t a liar. The words had been true, I had heard them for days, repeated to me like unwanted phrases from an old, scratched vinyl. Yet the shame poured into my blood and replaced the courage that had been there just minutes before. Shame and guilt and embarrassment that I felt without knowing why I felt it when I realized my teacher had already made up her mind. “Well, sometimes you can’t be so sensitive. I know those boys didn’t mean anything bad by saying that,” she told me.

Boys will be boys.

And good boys will always be good.

Girls who attempt to break the silence surrounding good boys who do bad things will sooner or later (but almost always sooner) be punished for it.

That’s how good boys guarantee the illusion of their innocence and goodness. They didn’t mean anything bad, because good boys will always be good. And we become the liars, the hyper-sensitive pussies, the girls who spoke when they should have known how to shut up. And those boys never find out how wrong those words are; they never have to apologize for saying them. They go on to say similar (or worse) things to other girls as they get older. Maybe deliberately, but maybe just because they don’t know better. We see them grow up, we know. They are the good students, the team captains and the popular, but friendly, boyfriends. They are the good guys, they aren’t the guys anyone would ever believe would do anything wrong to any girl. And if you ever claim the opposite, you become the liar, the attention-whore, the pussy, or all three of them — wrapped up in a dirty package of shame, one that’s easy to discard and throw away. 

Boys will be boys.

And good boys will always be good.

Good boys will always grow up into good men, and that’s why the good men may be the most dangerous men for women and girls. Because no one will want to, or dare to, trust us when we talk about all the bad things they really do, when no one is watching. And the things they get away with doing when people are watching. Because they are the good men. And you shouldn’t be so sensitive, maybe you should even be flattered that they paid you any kind of attention, even if you’re squirming, or screaming, on the inside. “You can do anything. Grab them by the pussy,” said now-president Donald J. Trump in an interview with Billy Bush back in 2005. Something he later dismissed as being “locker room banter.” Locker room banter, drunken mistakes, an upbringing in the '70s and the '60s

Boys will be boys.

And good boys will always be good.

Good boys, and the men that they grow into, have long perfected a system of silence designed to intimidate, scare and batter girls and women into speechlessness.

To manipulate us into thinking that we are the bad ones, the ones who allow bad things to happen to us. We grow up and we stop talking about good boys who do bad things to us or to our friends. We stop saying their names to teachers, to employers and to other girls and boys, because we learn that the battle will be futile. We grow into women and we encounter “good men” who do shitty, abusive things to us — on the street, in the bar, at work, at home. And we know, unlike my seven-year old mini-me, that it’s more often than not pointless to even try to interfere or speak up.

Boys will be boys.

And good boys will always be good.

And you don’t want to be that girl, the bad girl, the bad woman, the woman who makes light-hearted conversations awkward by calling good men out on their bullshit. After all, they’re the good men, so how would a bad thing they did even be counted as a bad thing? Maybe it’s just you, me, her and our inability to replace the bad tastes in our mouths with sugary sweet bubblegum when good men do bad things to us. 

Boys will be boys.

And good boys will always be good.

We didn’t know how the system worked when we were seven. So we were braver. We didn’t see the invisible golden tickets those boys held in their hands as they were commanding us to take our shirts off. The tickets we never had a chance to get a hold of. The ones we still haven’t managed to find. These golden tickets, which seem to give them a spot in a kingdom we can’t see when we walk down the regular, gloomy, gray streets of the cities and the towns we live in.

Boys will be boys.

And good boys will always be good.

They hold onto these golden tickets as if they were newborn babies, because they give them the cruel confidence and the excruciating entitlement needed to ask us to show our boobs when we’re playing in the schoolyard, sitting in a business meeting, or preparing for a job interview held in their hotel rooms. The golden tickets that make them make us shut up about it. They tell us that we don’t want to be that girl, the girl who talks and reveals good men’s bad sides. “You will never get a job again if you talk about this,” they say. Or, if they’re rich enough, they will pay for our silence. They will shut us up so that they can keep on being good men who do bad things, without inconvenient interruptions.

Boys will be boys.

And good boys will always be good.

Men will be men.

And good men will always be good.

They still are. But we changed, and the world turned. Suddenly, unexpectedly, painfully and brutally fast it twisted so that those golden tickets only seemed to remain the way your grandfathers disheveled gold teeth do; an inheritance not even your most greedy cousin would fight to get. The world turned, and we still don’t have golden tickets. But we have words. And for the first time since we were seven, we dare to speak them, write them, shout them. And with the choir they’ve grown into, people are finally forced to listen. Even the good men and their system of silence can’t escape the growing echoes. And we, we realize that even though some things turn to gold, when gold fades, there rarely is anything left worth holding onto.
But our words, they will linger.

Top photo: Shannon Downey/Badass Crosstich

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Editorial Intern

Amanda Brohman is a 23-year old editorial intern at BUST, a freelance writer, blogger and fashion journalism student at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York. She loves everything that glitters, taking long walks in and around her SoHo neighborhood, and drinking Chardonnay on her fire escape at midnight whilst listening to Halsey. 

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