Column: ‘Boys will be boys’ only if we let them

It’s time we untangle rape culture and challenge masculinity.

Break the Silence Day organized a march to protest sexual assault by greek life members on frat row along University Avenue on Saturday, Mar. 4, 2017.

Ellen Schmidt

Break the Silence Day organized a march to protest sexual assault by greek life members on frat row along University Avenue on Saturday, Mar. 4, 2017.

Kate McCarthy

In the wake of renewed discussions of sexual assault on campus, I’ve been trying to see what the “good guys” make of all of this. You know, the guys — largely heterosexual — who support the cause against rape and its culture, but are perhaps unsure of how to proceed from there. A question comes to mind: How do we raise better boys?

The notion of raising a boy, and all that entails tells boys to suppress their feelings.

Right after the presidential election, I felt an urgency to reach out to my younger brother on the west coast. So I sent a frantic, late-night text, imploring him not to let the now- permissible culture of male entitlement and disrespect engulf him. He didn’t reply.

I don’t think my words fell on deaf ears necessarily, but he may be representative of many boys and young men whose masculinity feels threatened. But it’s a masculinity we’ve created and reinforced at every turn, so it’s no surprise that it’s backfired on us now.

It’s wonderful to watch college-aged boys learn and adapt and accept responsibility for things they did not directly do, but are a part of implicitly. Unfortunately, they are constantly faced with restrictions and ideals of masculinity — or, otherwise, aptly named toxic masculinity. That’s a lot to reverse-engineer. I look forward to watching new generations raise new young men who will be greeted with a space for themselves so supportive that they then go into the world and make others feel supported too.