Let Boys be… Whatever

So I’m fashionably late to comment on the Gillette razors advert that discusses toxic masculinity and generally goes “Hey, can we try not being terrible people?”

It should be a fairly uncontroversia….. Ha ha ha, no of course not because it’s 2019 and the world has collectively lost its bearings.

I’m not going to comment on detail on the advert (a step in the right direction) or the people who are objecting to it (twats) but I do want to talk about one aspect of this that really hits me hard.

A line I’ve seen thrown around is, “let boys be boys; let men be men”. And I fucking hate it. On part because I was a bit (very) shit at being a boy. Not that I object to “boys” being boys or “men” being men (which I guess means the societal norms for those words) but the let boys be boys attitude hurts like fuck because it assumes that this is something fundamental, worse, monolithic.

It can be incredibly isolating when the things you’re expected to like leave you cold. Worse than just being bored it left me feeling broken and numb. The expectation was to like football and heaven help me I tried but I’ve never found the game anything other than tedious, never found the stadiums other than menacing places to be.

As a child the phrase “there’ll be kids your age” would send a chill down my spine. Signalling that otherwise enjoyable family time was going to be abandoned in favour of casting me adrift in a sea of people who weren’t like me. It was embarrassing. For years I lied to my parents about how many friends I had, at times about having friends, because I was failing, I wasn’t doing the things that boys were supposed to do.

So sure, let boys be boys, but first you need to give what you mean by “boys” a radical fucking overhaul.