Boys Will Be Boys
I often used to fantasize of growing up when my grandparents did. I would close my eyes, listen to the soundtrack of Dirty Dancing and pretend I was in their shoes. Life seemed so simple. Life seemed so fun. Life seemed like everything I had ever wanted and more. Growing up in New York City, I was taught to be independent at a young age. As much as I loved New York, I felt as though I was missing a huge chunk of my childhood. I wished I could play in the street as my father did. I wished I could have gone over to my neighbor’s for dinner without having to be escorted by my parents or babysitter. I fantasized partaking in movies like Grease and Sixteen Candles and television programs like The Wonder Years, where we would attend school dances and football games. Life seemed so light-hearted. My grandparents would describe their lunch excursions where they would escape from their Weehawken school, hop on the New York City ferry, and explore (much like the plot in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off). This white picket fence life is everything I wanted, however as time progresses the picture of that great quality of life diminishes. The idealistic American Dream society is shattered more and more as I grow older and examine the issues present in society.
With recent allegations against Kavanaugh, my eyes have forever been open. The rape culture within the suburbs of Washington D.C in the 1980s was prevalent. In fact, hearings, with numerous schools within the area, were held in Bethesda, Maryland in the ‘80s to discuss the major issue at hand. The fact that seven schools decided it was enough of a problem to address proves that this issue must have been quite significant. The letter warned parents that their children were in danger and that they “had developed a party culture that included heavy drinking leading to ‘sexual or violent behavior’”. Taking advantage of a woman was a common theme and was illustrated throughout the media. In a Vox article, Constance Grady explains that the typical high school love story, in movies and television, consisted of some form of sexual misconduct. In Sixteen Candles, a drunk girl is tossed around by two different guys at a party. Jake Ryan, known as the ideal dream boy of every teenage girl’s deepest fantasies, had a reputation that lasted for decades. In the film, he cold-bloodedly hands a drunk and unconscious Caroline over to another guy and says, “Have fun.” This advertising of rape culture made it seem like situations like this were ok, thus proving and raising issues of gender equality during these time periods. We often don’t address or recognize these issues as they are portrayed subconsciously throughout different films from this era. Constance Grady exclaims, “It’s a high school love story. It’s been celebrated for 34 years for its sweet, romantic heart. Yet it is entirely willing to feature a lengthy, supposedly hilarious subplot in which a drunk and unconscious girl is passed from one boy to another and then raped.”
During 5th period on the day of the initial hearing, I received a text from my grandmother. “So, do you think he did it?” I asked my grandma what she thought, and who she believed. I often get frustrated with my older family members and their political opinions and beliefs. As I have gotten older and more politically inclined, I can see the differences in opinions between the generations. So, Kavanaugh or Plessey Ford? My grandma told me that she kept changing whom she believed. She exclaimed that when she was little everyone lived by the motto, “boys will be boys,” and that those were the words by which she lived.
I now question my childhood fantasies. Do I really wish that I had partaken in an upbringing like those of the older generations, when boys would just be boys? Should I be grateful for the situational awareness of my peers, especially growing up in New York City? Should I feel safer?
I told my grandma that this is no way to live. She agreed and said it wasn’t a choice, that this was something that was ingrained in you as you were growing up. I said I did not get it, and questioned how one could not feel inclined to do something about the masculine mentality. She simply said, “We didn’t question things then.” #
Katie Diament is a student at The Beacon School in Manhattan.