Photo courtesy of Lorie Shaull

OPINION: White boys will be white boys

Cut the "locker room" talk
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Cut the “locker room” talk

There is a saying uttered over and over again in response to when those who do harm or commit a crime are affluent and privileged enough to never deal with the consequences: “boys will be boys.”

It is stated in many different ways such as “locker room talk,” “boy talk” and more, but all of these sayings mean the same thing.

Many attempt to argue its definition as leniency to adolescent youth who commit petty crimes or get into some mischievous trouble.

But what if that mischievousness is assault, rape or murder?

Ultimately, what these words conjure is the privilege and ability to deflect any culpability when it comes to one’s own actions.

Take our own president, for example, in the wake of the Access Hollywood tape where Trump infamously utters the line, “Grab’ em by the P****.”

Melania Trump, in an interview to CNN reporter Anderson Cooper, attempts to justify the sexual assault with the idea that it sounds bad because its just “boy talk.”

Labeling this behavior this way is an attempt to placate the idea of male pedagogy and violent sexism because men are implicitly allowed to be violent or aggressive towards women. Most men in the U.S. are part of this problem, but most do not have the privilege, whether white or economic, to get away with these crimes.

White male pedagogy specifically uses brown and black bodies to make the law seem more impartial to sexual assault and violence. This is by arresting them at much higher rates or portraying them in the media as committing more of these crimes, even though statistics show white males commit sexual assault and crimes at a much higher rate than any other ethnicity.

A study done by the United States Bureau of Justice Statistics, from 2005 to 2010, found that 57 percent of male perpetrators of sexual assault are white. In that same study, the BJS found black males to commit 27 percent of sexual assaults. This is not reflected within our mainstream media.

Many local news and mainstream news affiliates use black and brown crimes as ways of filling air time, because if anything sells the news, it’s white insecurity. These media outlets use the trope of the “devious stranger,” who is oftentimes portrayed as a poor male of color.

When we look at the statistics of people who commit sexual assault at higher rates, people with intimate or close relationships with the victim are far more likely to commit the assault.

According to the 2005-2010 BJS study on sexualized crime, 78 percent of sexual assault crimes are committed by someone with close relationships to the victim. Out of that 78 percent, 34 percent are intimate partners, 6 percent are relatives and 42 percent are well known acquaintances or friends.

This shows that the attempt to frame sexualized violence as something committed by strangers or the desperate is uninformed and at worst, racism incarnate. The media also imagines sexualized violence as a problem of poverty or upbringing, which ignores the white male pedagogy that runs the US.

I believe this allows for many white males to ignore their own problems and instead shift blame onto things like music, video games, movies or TV. And although some of those do play a role, they do not instigate the sexual power dynamics that exist between the white pedagogical hierarchy and everyone else in the US.

That is done simply by the power and meaning behind these words “boys will be boys.”

 

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