“Boys will be Boys”: How to “Condone” Bullying

25 Oct

After a client, Theo, had his head shoved into a toilet at school last week, his teacher explained, “Boys will be boys.” Let’s for a moment take a collective deep breath and look beyond the possibility that this answer isn’t just condescending, asinine, and utterly disrespectful. Let’s think about what this response from a person in authority — whom Aspies often respect and listen to unconditionally — has “taught” Theo.

Number 1: Boys will be boys because boys are physically aggressive. It’s accepted; it’s expected; and, it’s fostered. So, when Theo turns around and puts his classmate’s head in the trashcan — as he did three days after the incident — the school has no one else to blame but boys, right? No, they had Theo to blame with a two-day out-of-school suspension.

Number 2: Boys will be boys unless there is another identifiable component of their phenotype. So, Aspie and autie boys, you aren’t just “boys” anymore. Therefore, when you return the favor or up the ante, your “boyness” is overlooked and your Aspie-ness is center stage, even though other non-Aspie, plain ol’ boys do the same darn things.

Number 3: Boys will be boys, so I don’t need to help you. If I do, those boys who will be boys will also make fun of you. They will wonder why you can’t handle this situation for yourself, or, at least try to. They will call you a “sissy” — boys being boys again.

Number 4: Boys will be boys because ALL boys engage in behaviors that need pat phrases to bail them out. “She wouldn’t have to say that if it hadn’t happened before. And, if it’s happened before, it will happen again. So why shouldn’t I?” I don’t know, Theo.

I tried to offset these four immutable lessons, reading a favorite quote from Harvey Firestone: “Never be bullied into silence. Never allow yourself to be made a victim. Accept no one’s definition of your life, but define yourself.” Theo’s response, “I was already silent and a victim and by Mrs. Smith’s perspective, I’m already defined.” Checkmate.


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