When Will Girls be Girls?

“Boys will be Boys’: a phrase that has worn down and aged young women for generations. The words are direct in its meaning, stating that the behavior of young men will never change, and instead, women need to learn to accept it. The behavior excused by this saying ranges from seemingly harmless teasing, to sexual harassment and assault. Under this mentality, a young girl’s behavior is not excused or defended, while a young man’s more harmful actions are. 

This inherent misogyny of this is hidden by the false idea that a pre-adolescent girl is closer to an adult’s maturity and prefrontal cortex development than boys of the same age. Research done by Dr. LouAnn Brizendine and peers showed that the difference in maturity begins when girls reach puberty, rather than in their childhood and males catch up at the end of their teen years. Her studies show that the difference in maturity between genders in the teenage years is likely caused by girls’ earlier optimization of brain connections.This may be the reason for girls being more emotionally mature than their male counterparts. 

But years of pushing a narrative that young women are more capable of handling adult emotions and feelings has created anxiety and dread in elementary and adolescent girls. The minimal evidence that girls can mature faster than boys has been overused and exaggerated to justify behaviors that are not rooted in brain connections at all. Perpetuating the idea that ‘boys will be boys’ or that young men are incapable of maturing creates low expectations, and ultimately hinders their ability to. 

This makes the distance between young girls and boys wider, and prevents children from forming connections and friendships which makes platonic relationships  between men and women much more complex than those between the same gender.

However, the most dangerous implication of the phrase comes from its use for justification of sexual assault and harassment. In many recent cases of sexual assault by young men, their parents, or other authority figures have justified their attack by saying ‘boys will be boys’ or claiming it was a mistake caused by their immaturity. This minimizes the struggle of rape victims and prevents consequences for their rapists. Rape victims are significantly more likely to experience mental health issues, such as PTSD and depression. This in addition to victim blaming and stigmas against sexual assault victims make coming forward incredibly difficult for victims, stopping many from reporting their attackers.

Behavior like sexual assaults justification is clearly wrong, but many will ignore this for their son or friends future, entirely disregarding the future of the woman who was assaulted. This causes great difficulty and trauma for many women and the difficulty all begins with the precedent that their male peers’ behavior is justifiable because they will “be boys.”