Dog on the Boys
By Andrew Broadley (he/him)
c/w sexual violence
Andrew scrutinises men’s propensity to both dismiss and encourage toxic behaviour from their male counterparts.
We all know the boys. I have boys, my boys have boys, your boys have boys, even buoys have buoys #Haurakigulfsquad2021. We love our boys, yet often don’t admit it, because admitting it shows emotion, and emotions are for girls. Crying is for when the boys are not around and Mitski is playing loudly because like I said, the boys are not around so you can finally stop playing Netsky. Wubwubwub.
A group of boys are very rarely ever called a group of boys. We are simply ‘the boys’. We are a collective. Language has power, and in this case language is making one thing very clear. There is no individual in ‘the boys’, there is only ‘the boys’. No option for a stand alone boy, ‘the boys’ move together, they are one entity, and as one entity there is no room for individualism or dissonance.
The idea of a group of men being close knit friends is nothing new or surprising. As human beings we long for companionship, but problems arise because this longing often means we do not like to do anything that threatens that companionship. It is what makes it so hard to tell your friends something honestly. You have spinach in your teeth my dude but I just can’t tell you uWu. It is the reason why we let a racist joke or inappropriate comment slide, why we stupidly laugh along. We fear creating a chasm, of doing something to distance ourselves from the other members. Of being outed, a castaway with only a bloody volleyball for a friend (outdated reference?). We learn the language of the boys and we maintain that language, much like we do for all of the little groups we have in our lives. Languages that we change when needed. For our friends, our grandma, our professor, our church, or our one brown friend that yes, definitely notices you call no one else ‘bro’ except him. But sometimes we get a little too comfortable in the language of the boys, a little too accommodating. And to diverge from the norm is seen as too scary or uncomfortable, so we stay silent in moments when we ought to speak up. I mean, we aren’t looking for a fight, right?
But who even said anything about a fight? We need a shift in what we believe calling out our friends to be. It’s not about saying, “hey that was sexist and you are an absolute scoundrel for saying it, let’s settle this by battle to the death.” No, men seem to forget how much power they hold simply by saying “hey that’s not cool, man.” Let your mates know that being sexist or racist or xenophobic in any form isn’t going to earn them laughs or cred. Men long to be seen as powerful and masculine and charismatic (because society says we should be) and most of that illusion relies on positive reinforcement from their peers. So stop giving your boys props for shitty behaviour. Start giving your boys It is what makes it so hard to tell your friends something honestly. You have spinach in your teeth my dude but I just can’t tell you uWu. mad props when they talk about their feelings and be vulnerable. Give us a hug, man. But not a hug hug, one of those manly one arm hugs, with the other arm firmly smacking their back type of hugs. Normalise engaging with intersectional politics and recognising our privileges and roles in perpetuating the patriarchy. For my white dudes, let’s bro out and talk about the impacts of colonialism and how it interacts with our everyday attitudes and systems. Soon those sexist comments will start morphing into witty observations from a recent New Yorker article they read and you’ll all circle jerk each other in a beautiful orgy of growth and open communication!
Next week's agenda, are we now classists?
Think of it this way: your mum full on yelled at you growing up and you still love her. When you spilled a raspberry Vodka Cruiser on her white carpet she didn’t say you were an awful person, maybe just to pull your head in a little. And calling out your boys doesn’t have to be much different. Often you’ll find people are only saying shit to get the approval of others, I mean not always... I am telling you this now for your own good, if his name is Chad he is just a straight up dick. He should not be in your group. In all seriousness though, I say this under the assumption that you and your boys are actually reasonable and nice people. Many people out there are not, and I in no way want to equate their attitudes and behaviour to a spilled raspberry Vodka Cruiser.
Men seem to forget how much power they hold simply by saying “hey that’s not cool, man.”
But for the rest of us, let your boys know that approval won’t come from saying inappropriate shit and you may find they actually agree with you. Their heart was never really in that lame joke, they just thought you might enjoy it.
There is of course, a dark side to all this. Letting this crap slide among our male friends normalises and perpetuates some seriously dangerous behaviour. It is where sexist jokes become sexual assault, it is where racist jokes become violence. These issues need to be addressed at their root cause, and much of that root cause is how us men are behaving inappropriately, and then normalising, and even encouraging that behaviour. It is the fuel in the car of toxicity, and when we keep offering up free fuel every few kilometres there doesn’t seem to be any chance of the car running on empty any time soon. I said that your boys may just be trying We men are so quick to say, “surely not, I can’t believe it, but he seems like such a nice guy” but in doing so we are completely discrediting the prevalent attitudes that contribute towards these actions.to earn some cred, but they also may not be. These attitudes, comments and behaviours can be real indicators to the true feelings and thoughts of your boys. Don’t let your friendship cloud that judgement. Dogging on the boys may mean coming to the realisation that Chad should never have been your boy in the first place (I tried to warn you). It may also mean unpacking your own biases and attitudes, and being frank with your own shortcomings. Men are really out here patting each other on the back when they score a hookup with some drunk chick at a party, only to then chant #notallmen when one gets accused of rape.
We men are so quick to say, “surely not, I can’t believe it, but he seems like such a nice guy” but in doing so we are completely discrediting the prevalent attitudes that contribute towards these actions.
Every woman I know has either experienced or knows someone who has experienced some form of sexual misconduct, whether harassment or assault. Can I honestly say I don’t know any men who have a part in this? Can I honestly say I don’t have a part in this? Because these actions don’t come out of nowhere. We men are so quick to say, “surely not, I can’t believe it, but he seems like such a nice guy” but in doing so we are completely discrediting the prevalent attitudes that contribute towards these actions. It minimises the event to something that seems unfathomable, something foreign to us and our world, but the women in my life can tell me it is neither of these things. In our current society it is prevalent and it is obvious and it is only us men who are shocked by it because it is only us men who are failing to recognise, or simply failing to speak up against all the microaggressions that lead up to harassment, seuxal misconduct and assault. The same can be said in publicised incidents of racial violence. No one is surprised by these except us Pākehā, even though it is us Pākehā that perpetuate systemic racism in almost all areas of our day to day lives.
Call out your mates. It’s long overdue. Change the language of your boys, change the behaviour that you choose to encourage, change the discourse you discuss. It’s 2021. If you can’t have a conversation about a girl without reducing her to sexual desirability or attractiveness then you must be a real bunch of Chads,