We teach our boys differently than we teach girls in ways that may contribute to sexual violence committed against girls and women. In fact we teach girls how they should avoid wearing ‘provocative’ clothing when they go out. They are told to avoid high heels, short dresses, wearing too much makeup, not to go out or ‘hang out’ with all boys. These strategies and tips are parents and society’s ways to protect girls from being seually assaulted. What do we teach boys? They are taught that many conquests are rites of passage into manhood, but we don’t tell them how to approach girls, how to make their moves, or when it is ok to make sexual advances with females.
Guys grow up under this cloak of the ‘bro code’ and are given license to assault women in many ways. What we teach boys is equally as important as what we don’t teach them. We must begin to take so much pressure off of girls and communicate to them that it is their fault somehow if they are ever assaulted. It is not their responsibility if unwanted advances are made upon them, and yes, there are ways that they may decrease the possibility of assault. However, we, as adults, parents, educators, and general society, must alter the ways we communicate to both sexes about proper sexual ‘etiquette’.
Boys must learn and be socialized to behave and regard girls and women, not as sexual objects for their pleasures, but as people who deserve respect. Despite what a girl or woman wears, how she acts, or who she is with, she deserves respect, and along with that, the opportunity to say ‘no’. Boys must be taught to understand and heed that word. They must be taught to understand signs from girls and the indicators of consent or messages of nonconsent in terms of communicated attitudes and behaviors from the opposite sex.
Donald Trump may have popularized and legitimized ‘locker room’ talk about women, but we can and should teach boys differently. Read more about strategies used to teach and coach boys into becoming and acting like gentlemen at all times.