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Rape Culture and Gender Shaming – “Boys will be Boys” a response

Today I read a post which went viral enough to have the Huffington Post pick it up and you’ll find a mess of news articles and syndicated stories on what started on January 16th with:

“Feel free to sexually harass me if you’re male. You know what they say “Boys will be boys.”. Although I’m not sure any of you will want to do that since I’m not very modest, therefore not attractive.” (Huff Teen writer Marion Mayer)

This high school junior who is more consciousness and knowledgeable about gender issues then the majority of people raising those boys and girls said it and is receiving tons of positive responses. But, unfortunately it is just one more example of part today’s rape culture and gender shaming issues. There are so many out there who by being OK with any of this because of statements like “boys will be boys” perpetuate part of the culture that surrounds it. Well guess what? Kids will be kids, people will be people. We all have choices, and sometimes these choices are made more difficult because these uncooked brains in high schools like Lakewood High and principals like Mr. Martinez allowing behavior based on someones gender. When students are being forced to conform with a dress code not because of safety or disciplinary issues but for reasons to not provoke a boy, because he is a boy, makes no sense. Reasons which shame a girl for being what she is, a girl. Something has to be said and this high school girl said it and I am going to give my two-cents. I am all for uniforms myself, but for the right reasons not for adding another thing for kids to figure out or work through, not to perpetuate that it is the girls fault because of her dressing the way she does. As simplistic as this seems, it is yet another ingredient to today’s rape culture.

The Consequences of Rape Culture

I was raped in 1997 and was so ashamed I allowed my mother to believe I was being irresponsible and partying out late, hence why the babysitter had to spend the night with my children. I allowed my ex-husband (my soon to be husband at the time) to believe I had gotten into a car accident. The only person I trusted helped me bust the asshole due to some quick thinking in the midst of shock for me, but still it caused me nothing but problems with my family and honestly my life from there. The shame followed me and still is with me today. I thought I was being strong,  I thought I was being smart, but I was ashamed because I was out at a AOL mixer and so I did it to myself. “If I had not worn that outfit and flirted..” I would think. I thought a lot of things and there are reasons why.

I remember being in high school when date rape was just starting to be being discussed and heard in the media. We were still at the point most people still did not believe you could be raped by someone you knew. Heck we still are today just not as much because we are educating people to the difference and the “No means NO!” campaign. I remember then feeling shame at an instance which I know now was rape because apparently no matter how far my date and I had gone. When I said no I did not want to go further, it was to late. At least this is what I was led to believe, because I let the boy feel me up. No certainly did not mean no back then, even though it was suppose too. This was how I was raised, how we all as girls were raised and shamed into thinking, blaming me because I let him touch me in the first place. Or if we did not let ourselves get into these situations it would not happen. We were blamed, the victims. This is what the principal is setting up these girls for, victim blaming. But still it is ludicrous, this phrasing of “Modest is Hottest”.

Why? Because even with the Jody Foster movie The Accused released in 1988 being a significant statement which started talking about victim blaming, making it something to think about, many consider it one of the biggest smack in the face to those that did. It was a movie which told the story of many before her and after. It was start of the rethinking of the victim blame and shame. There seemed to be some light at the end of that tunnel, however the movement forward we were seeing today seems to have fallen back more then a few decades due to the political environment as of late. The fact my rapist was a serial rapist still doesn’t factor into my brain and psyche. It was my fault, right? Well many would have you believe it. The fact is, rape is rape, it is violent not sexual, it is brutal and not OK and even if some of the most beautiful sculptures in the world portray it, it is our history. Even if it is part of history, ie: Genghis Khan’s DNA is found in 1 and 200 men. Interesting yes but when you have articles from National Geographic calling him a “prolific lover” instead of what he was, a rapist, it candy coats and gives the actions a pass. I agree history is history, but argue the time comes when instead of letting it collect dust we use it to learn and grow as a society. Isn’t this what the principal should be teaching those kids?

With all the discussions and forward movement of gender equality we still are experiencing a significant backsliding as of late. As I mentioned above, there are people in power, politically and religiously who are still gender shaming publicly in their political speeches. Saying there is scientific factors that a woman cannot be raped, that a vagina knows and will shut down. (Actually there is a condition when someone is brutally attacked the vagina will be close up but it is beyond rare, as in.. let’s leave it out of the discussion. My vagina is not sentient, check?). You know what though? I really think this principal is trying to do the right thing. But because of his own upbringing, today’s “backwards slip” and what is constantly supported by people in power, our advertising and constant visual objectification, just to name just a few things, he is not doing it right. But his response when this was pointed out to him is what gets him in hot water, he did not and would not even try to open his mind up and really think about what he is saying when he tells the girls:

Modest is Hottest

How in any world or head does this make sense? First off for an educator, not knowing what the definition of a word is and using it incorrectly irks me enough, but like “gay” we have taken a word and made it into a condition, a label, an act and caused it to imply things that are not necessarily true or even close to being OK. Modest means “unassuming or moderate in the estimation of one’s abilities or achievements.” Modesty applying to dress and it means “(of a woman) dressing or behaving so as to avoid impropriety or indecency, esp. to avoid attracting sexual attention or (of clothing) not revealing or emphasizing the figure.” See the conflict here? His statement is a complete contradiction. Are you pissed off yet? The world has genderized something which was suppose to be about being humble. I still am amazed and angry about this post.

I like many of others, saw red when I read her blog post, but I also was empowered to write this because our voices are the only thing we have in this world culture to speak up against the way we treat women and raise our children. She inspired me to tell my story and speak out against the way men are given a pass because of gender!

shame

How would that have changed the way things happened to me in 1997? Probably quite a bit. I actually was overweight and insecure, I was a flirt, always had been and I had two shots of tequila in me to give me courage. To this day I am still ashamed because of thoughts such as; “If I had just not gone, if I had not had tequila, I would probably would have never talked to the man who ended up raping his 28th person that night, me.” Even when we go 10 years later here in Alaska when I was again attacked, raped and this time my head beaten into a tree and left for dead. What had I done? It was two men who didn’t speak English trying to get directions from me while I was walking home from a special Summer Solstice event. Who decided to “fuck the American whore, stupid America whore.. all American’s are whores” because they couldn’t get me to understand them.. I can still hear it. All I was doing? Walking home, sober. Wearing a bandanna, with body odor, sporting your typical hippie wear because we had played all day and helped a friend build their new cabin while we had a full day of light. What did I do to provoke being raped and having my head beaten in? Oh right… I was a stupid American whore.

Being a boy refers to your gender. That’s all.

Boys being boys is an antiquated excuse for misbehavior which as been adopted into allowing them this pass. Boys are not violent because they have a penis, believe me my penis  (pointing at my raised fist) is larger then yours and I can occasionally get just as pissed. But if I did something, or I misbehave (which I am want to do), I would be crazy and a bitch, not “awwwww it’s because of that XY chromosome pairing! How cute!” I am just a crazy bitch. This week my friend stood up for herself when she was not paid and the women called her crazy. If a man had done that she probably would have told everyone he was harassing her after she more than likely would have paid him. This is because society still is raising us in different colors, boxes and not focusing on raising us to be, oh I don’t know… human beings who respect each other because we are fellow inhabitants of this planet.

Why am I telling you this? Because dressing modestly or not has nothing to do with getting raped! NOTHING PROVOKES A RAPIST , they were raised to feel the way they felt and rape has nothing to do with being sexually attracted to a woman, it has to do with violence and power. It can be as simple as allowing boys to be boys that can cause issues. Nothing I said or did could have stopped it but stopping the rape culture at the source, by not giving a gender an excuse because they are BOYS. Am I giving the principal a Hail Mary Pass? Oh hell no! He is going to be having a very rough few months. Huffington Post and other media power posters are not going to let it die. Me? I am going to sit here and try not think about how I still cannot go for a walk in my neighborhood. How I still have not talked to my mother about what happened How I worried for a decade if I had some horrific STD by being raped in 1997 and still to this day if something goes wrong (normal vaginal things), I get a panic attack because of the men who raped me. How is that OK because boys will be boys… I cannot even go enjoy my world, my life here in this gorgeous state of Alaska because of what happened? It isn’t OK, not even in the slightest.

No more Hail Mary Passes. Being a boy has to do with a chromosomes and genetics, being a girl means we get all the X’s and you don’t *smiling*. Being a human in this day and age means you have a responsibility to raise your children to respect people no matter if they have a penis or a vagina.

The below post which prompted my diatribe originally was posted in Tumblr (where I found it and reposted to my own and am reposting here. In looking for more info I found it posted by the girl herself where she asked her Facebook page and Tumblr be kept private on Huffington Post so I am going to remove the Tumblr link so instead, let’s link this to her Huffington post link over at Huff Post Teen!

Marion Mayer  – Junior at Lakeland Senior High School

Why I’m Taking a Stand Against My School’s ‘Dress Code’

Marion Mayer

Original Photo via Marian Mayer’s Tumblr Page

Feel free to sexually harass me if you’re male. You know what they say “Boys will be boys.”. Although I’m not sure any of you will want to do that since I’m not very modest, therefore not attractive.

The new principal at my school used two phrases while addressing new dress code rules to a class.”Modest is hottest.” and “Boys will be boys.”

He should have said something more along the lines of: “The school dress code was established to provide our students with a safe and orderly learning environment that is free from distractions.”Let’s start with the phrase “Modest is hottest.” Shall we? (read the rest….)

(Read the full article on Huff Teen Post here)

21 Comments

  1. Cabin Goddess,
    a few years ago my daughter was in pre school and a boy pushed her she turned and started to walk away (like they taught her to) he bit her to the point of drawing blood.
    in conference with school and other parents they used that idiotic phrase
    “boys will be boys”
    that set me off a bit and I responded something like this
    ‘first off your boy committed assault with intent to cause bodily harm and even at his age now the state would be forced to do a psych evaluation at least second if your boy being a boy got this dad to be a dad you would be the first crying foul and if you don’t teach your boy to be human you will be able to write on his grave stone “he was just being a boy” how come if 97%(made up number) can learn maybe your boy is being less then a boy.’
    I walked out after that and we moved my daughter to a different school after the same boy did it to another kid.
    it always pissed me off and even more now that kind of thinking caused more problems over the last 50 years (the bulling that was so prevalent in schools for all this time would have never been like it was with out that mentality)
    well that’s my rant
    Dab10

  2. Without getting into my own nightmarish experiences with this kind of thing, I would hazard a guess that at least 80% or more of women today have had some experience with sexual harassment and/or rape. It’s disgusting. It makes me worry about my five daughters. And it also makes me determined to raise my two sons to be better men. I hate the mentality of “boys will be boys.”
    Show me some love!

  3. “Boys will be boys” is bullshit, pure and simple. It’s a male excuse to make it okay for the prevailing culture to continue to treat women like objects. We’re not here purely for your amusement, gentlemen. We are human beings, equal to you, and we deserve respect.

    Sorry all that crap happened to you, Kriss. I’m sure you’ve heard this multiple times, but NONE OF IT WAS YOUR FAULT.
    Show me some love!

    • Yep I know it logically, but you know what I am saying~
      Show me some love!

      • Yup, I know what you’re saying. I’m just steamed that we’re still in a place in this country where we’ve had this same freaking conversation about women-as-equals for, what, 50 years now since the Pill was legalized? And we still have these power struggles and we’re still trying to change the cultural mindset. Sigh….
        Show me some love!

  4. Just to clarify, yes I know logically it is not my fault, it does NOT stop what was ingrained in me to react when panic ensues, it does not stop the thought process or reactions. It wasn’t my fault, I had nothing what so ever to do with it. That is the point, even girls are programmed to shame themselves.
    Show me some love!

  5. I totally understand what you are saying and I whole heartily agree with you. I think we never really got away from the male attitude that (in my opinion) shouts that they think they are better than women and are property to be abused. But I also think that for a very short amount of time we were making strides and now for one reason or another the political climate in our nation is bringing the old sayings like boys will be boys etc… because it benefits them and their agenda. Kriss we have talked about this subject before when talking about our own children and it makes me just as angry today as it has in the past. We truly need to stop training our young men to be idiots like their ancestors and stop blaming and shaming women. hugs hon, great post!

    • It’s retraining our way of thinking. It takes effort. It is easy to sit up in congress and the senate and say stupid things. This week one of them was “If I was a 50 year-old woman I wouldn’t need a gynecologist” Did all that teabag dunking wash out brains?
      Show me some love!

  6. Part of the problem is that we allow our males to remain boys (children) rather than men whose reason, judgement and sense of responsibility are stronger than their testosterone level. Even when they’re in their 60’s and should know better.
    P.S., If you’ll tell me how to reach you, I’ll send you PDFs of Homecoming and Tourist Trap.
    Show me some love!

  7. This upsets me greatly. While I was never raped I will never forget being told “boys will be boys”. I was extremely unpopular when I was in 5th and 6th grade. As in not even the geeky kids would be my friend. I was fat, weird, loved to read, wore braces, huge glasses, wore the wrong clothes, didn’t act like the other kids. I was not even a teenager yet and I was suicidal and cut myself to feel better. All because I was bullied every single day. Whether I was at school or home with the neighborhood kids. I’ll never forget being told by one of my 6th grade teachers that “boys will be boys” and then went on to tell me how it was my fault that I was picked on. If I just brushed my hair more, acted more like the other kids, changed my style of dress, showered more. Well maybe I would have showered and brushed my hair more if I wasnt in such a state of depression brought on by literally no one liking me. It’s taken me many many years but I’ve gotten over the pain of those years. I’m not saying I don’t feel pain but I’ve forgiven the kids. They were allowed to torment me with not consequences. As an adult I’ve actually had two of them apologize to me and say they hated what they had done to me. There is nothing worse than those who are in authority and are supposed to protect you turning a blind eye to such things then blaming the victim for being “different”. I love me. I love that I’m an uber geek and unique. Guess what my husband and children love me for me and those are the only people who matter to me. I love that I don’t have to apologize to them for who I am. That I can be 100% me and they love me all the more for it.

    • It is part of the whole thing, not just rape. It all leads down a very slippery slope.
      Show me some love!

  8. Rape is never okay, and excusing men for date rape, sexual assault, harassment, etc because “boys will be boys” basically says men shouldn’t have to take responsibility for their own actions.

    Also, rape is not about sex. It’s about power and control. We recently had an elderly woman who was raped and beaten almost to death. The man (in his 30’s) had been watching her for a while. He broke in when he knew she was home alone, raped her, beat her badly enough the family couldn’t clean all of the blood stains, then went to work as if he’d just had a cup of coffee.

    Thank you for speaking out about this. The rapist should bear the shame. NEVER the victim, but I know several rape survivors who feel guilty and ashamed because of how society sees rape and treats the victim.

  9. I’m so sorry you had to go through what you did during your younger years. No one should have to go through that. Yes back then, if you were raped during a date then you “asked for it.” I recall several girls in high school saying they were date raped but were afraid to tell anyone because they figured people would say she put herself in that situation. So sad, and so wrong. Thank you for spreading the word about what rape really is – an act of violence…and no means no.
    Show me some love!

  10. I am so sorry you were raped. Just like any victim regardless of sobriety, clothing choices or any other stupid shit to blame it on, you didn’t deserve it at all. I’m sure this principal had good intentions, but seriously, “Modest is Hottest”. I’m cringing and outraged here, and a lot of people should be. Ugh.

  11. As I tell my boys because my mom and dad told me. If a girl is walking down the street naked, that does not mean she wants your grubby hands all of her without her permission. Maybe you should talk to her first and find out why she is naked. Also, if a man cannot overcome his penis, he does not need his penis. I may have to post on thia subject as there is more to the story.
    Show me some love!

  12. Hmm interesting read, I don’t feel they gender equality is really a real issue

    • In what way do you not feel it is an issue? Equality perhaps hmmm personally it is hard to put it in a box. Gender should not be separated into different boxes so therefor the equality issue raised by the dress codes and the terms and phrases used does apply. If we thought of people as people and not men or women, and give everyone the same standards, which are NOT based on gender there would not even be a question of equality.
      Show me some love!

  13. Rape is never ok, it doesn’t matter how they try to sugar coat it, hide it or make is socially acceptable with phrases like “boys will be boys”.
    Maybe for some this kind of post get to sound like white noise and a whole lot of blah blah, but talking about this kind of issues is really important we are talking about basic respect for another human being in a culture where still men are feed this type of bullshit that using woman, raping them and than blaming them is ok.
    That is why we should all help prevent it, specially with the new generations, I’ve seen little kids hit their mothers while the father just laughs it out, what he is doing is teaching him that abusing women is ok, and that type of mentality will just grow with him.
    So thank you for speaking up, for letting us know that there are people out there making a difference in a world that would prefer this type of actions to get “lost”.
    Show me some love!

  14. hey, i just wanted to say i’d love to read your article, but the “snow” floating across the screen is incredibly distracting. i wish that you and all the other people out there who use it would turn it off so that the articles and blog posts could be read easier, without tiny white dots running all over the words and partially obscuring letters.

    • well meh, considering you are the first person to complain in five years and everyone else seems to not have a problem reading it, I would say your loss! Seriously it can barely be seen, and CABIN GODDESS, ALASKA, hence SNOW in the winter, I only turn it off when breakup hits here!
      Show me some love!

  15. You are very brave and I’m so glad you wrote this. I am not a ‘victim’ but it enrages me the same when I see or hear these types of stories. ‘Cover the girls up so they won’t tempt the boys’, ‘tell the bullied kid he needs to stand up for himself so he won’t be bullied’. We tell the victims THEY need to change. We live in a backwards society that is getting worse.

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