‘Boys will be boys’ is no longer an acceptable excuse for bad behaviour #sorrynotsorry

June 12, 2018


I was in Tesco’s the other day picking up a few post-holiday essentials after our fab half term holiday. Minding my own business, as you do. And shattered after a busy day at work. I wasn’t really paying much attention to anything, but a teenage shrill cut through my thoughts. “Well. What about her?” a lanky late-teen boy quizzed his friend pointing directly at me. A bit stumped, I took in the pack of boys. What registered most was their intimidating glares, matching black hooded attire and lack of any light heartedness. Ooh – and zero shopping- since we were in Tesco’s.


They were cold.


Weirdly robot like.


We could have been characters in World of Warcraft* from opposing fractions, each waiting for the other to move. *An online battle game – which I hardly know anything about (whistles).






“Well, would you like to fu*k HER?” his friend pressed loudly, grim-faced. Intimidating. Not in jest.


What the what!?





Needless to say I scurried away as quickly as my little legs would take me. With relief ringing in my ears as the git replied screeching “Naaaa Naaaaa”.


And that was that.


I bumped into them a few times. Them all glares (with no shopping still), though I doubt they remembered me specifically. Me wobbling under the weight of the shopping basket trying to keep away from them.


What would their parents think?? Or perhaps more importantly, what do their parents say!?! This looked like ingrained behaviour. Not an embarrassing one-off dare. Not jolly teens being very silly. It was something different.



‘Boys will be boys’ is no longer an acceptable excuse for bad behaviour

The thing that really stuck was that this type of numb behaviour happens a fair bit. It’s actually not that unusual, and I typically end the week with a bucketful of toe curling experiences like this. Some weeks it’s the same old, same old. Some weeks it feels extra tense, like it’s getting worse. Is it a London thing? I don’t know.


Boys will be boys



Whilst probably not at this late teen age, time and time again I’ve heard parents waving off bad behaviour with phrases like:


He’s going to be a real boys, boy.

He’s such a lad.

You can tell he’s going to be a real boy.

That’s my boy.

He’s made of tough stuff.

Boys always fight.

And my pet hate – Boys will be boys.


I’m not sure there’s ever a right context for saying these phrases, but it’s definitely not for buffering away bad behaviour and pretending something never happened. Because where does it stop? And how far will some parents go in turning a blind eye to it all?






The future

I’m already worried for Little Button for when she gets older. Is this type of behaviour going to be normal in her life, or is it a generation blip that will hopefully skip past her or at least smooth out. Will she have to cover her ears to disgusting comments because ‘boys will be boys’?


I can’t help wonder if this could all be avoided if parents just got their fingers out and well, parented. Because as parents, that’s our job right?




35 responses to “‘Boys will be boys’ is no longer an acceptable excuse for bad behaviour #sorrynotsorry”

  1. Heather Keet says:

    I’m hoping that this kind of thing is on its way out, and by the time she is a teenager it will be a much better situation. I do honestly think that people are starting to realize that phrases like this whitewash bad behavior instead of addressing the issue and making sure children are taught the right thing. Though unfortunately, you will always have a segment of society who thinks being old-fashioned in this regard is better than progressive thinking. I actually hate when people say “maybe I’m old-fashioned…” I feel like starting a sentence that way means you know what you are saying is no longer appropriate but you are going to say it anyways. Like when I got married and one of the elderly relatives on my in-laws side said “maybe I’m old-fashioned, but women should do all the household chores.” Yeah, well guess what?! You didn’t have to work outside the home for a living, and I worked just as many hours as my husband! Equal chores old lady!

  2. Sophie says:

    No, thats not acceptable. In fact the teacher in me thinks that I may have said something back to them but perhaps I would have been so shocked and actually just walked away. My son is 16 and there is no way that is ok. full stop. I bet if their parents were around they would not behave like that and it would certainly not be ok! I too worry for our girls in the era of widely available porn and this gang culture that seems to rock their social media accounts BUT most teenagers I know realise that this is not the real world and most have feisty mums and sisters who would bollock them frankly if they treated woman this way. Could it be a London thing? I don’t know London enough but round here everyone knows someones mums so it would get back to them!!Great post hun. x

    • That was my knee jerk reaction Sophie, I’d have turned and said something like ‘as if you’d be lucky enough’ or just given them a ‘you disgust me look’ mind you, if I had the kids with me I’d have been out of there quick! #blogcrush

  3. Mrs Lighty says:

    I have to say, as a mother of a boy, this type of behaviour frightens the life out of me. In the sense that, I am petrified that Baby Lighty might grow up to be like this. I will do everything in my power to teach him that things like this are not acceptable. And the thought of getting it wrong scares me so much. Hope you’re ok after this experience xxx

  4. Mark says:

    Wow! All I can say is that if I had heard someone say that about a woman (or man) I would have to challenge it straight away. Make sure it’s heard by everyone and shame their behaviour so that all could hear.
    If anyone said that to my daughter or wife, I’d be furious! How dare they? Especially when walking in a shop with kids.
    Is it a London thing? Maybe. I’ve lived and worked in London my whole life and have seen lovely areas decline rapidly over the past few years. But it also comes down to parenting. There has to be consequences for bad behaviour when kids are growing up. Part of the consequence is learning what they’ve done wrong. If they don’t learn at a young age what is right and wrong, then they will have no chance when they are older.
    Hopefully it hasn’t affected you too much.
    Shame on them!

  5. Completely unacceptable and from the experience I have had of teaching boys for over 12 years. Not the norm. I too hate those phases and encourage all boys, those that I teach and those that I raise to be caring human beings not defined by stupid gender stereotypes. #dreamteam

  6. Totally inappropriate behaviour. I often wonder how from innocent, loving babies, some grow up to be – let’s just say – not so well mannered? #DreamTeam

  7. Maybe it won’t be normal if enough people call people out on this behaviour. I think #MeToo and a lot of the talk around poor male public — and private — attitudes and actions have to help steer the boat back towards civility and proper respect. Hope Trump’s boorish behaviour also serves as a model for how not to behave as a man. #DreamTeam

  8. I don’t think it’s a London thing. You get pockets of badly behaved groups all over. I wonder if the Parents have any idea..? If they did, then I fear their boys are a credit to them – in the worst possible way xx

  9. Tubbs says:

    This so annoys me. There was a bit of a Twitter storm when a lawyer commented that up-skirting could be avoided and lots of police time / resources saved if women were more responsible about what they wore … Because obviously it’s our fault for wearing skirts and nothing to do with men using their phones in ways that no one ever intended! How about them just not doing it!

  10. Sophie says:

    Popping back with #dreamteam

  11. Claire Rocks says:

    As a mum to 5 boys, I do believe boys should be held accountable for their actions and its not just a ‘boy thing’ #DreamTeam

  12. Rachel says:

    It’s awful to think these boys think it’s acceptable to behave like that. If it was my son I’d be truly devastated. Let’s hope we can bring up the next generation to be more respectful. I hope these boys are all just bravado in front of their mates and don’t really think like this, although this could be wishful thinking! Great read nevertheless #dreamteam

  13. Kate says:

    I am so sorry you went through this shocking incident. It really is not on and did the supermarket staff not do anything? I hope things improve and can only think #MeToo and similar campaigns must change things for the better. I also am so proud of my 17 year old and 12 year old sons and proud of myself for bringing them up to respect all people and never to disrespect women. That might sound naïve but I just know they would not put anyone down or curse them like this #DreamTeam

  14. Laurie says:

    So disheartening that boys are still behaving like this in 2018. Making weak excuses for boorish behavior only serves to make it worse. Ugh!

  15. Nick Holland says:

    I think we use boys will be boys as a reason for them playing up, but in no way is it an excuse, nor does it make it acceptable. While it does explain how crazy my toddler is from time to time, it won’t be any excuse for his behavior as he grows into a teenager and an adult #dreamteam

  16. So, I watch Love Island (don’t judge me), and the guys on there get described as ‘lads’. So now to me the word lad seems synonymous with misogynist with no respect for other humans. I have 2 boys and I really hope they don’t end up like that.

  17. Kirsty Hall says:

    I hear you with this one. I have often felt intimidated by groups of school aged boys and it just isn’t ok. I would be mortified if my boys ever behaved in this way. Each time I see this type of behaviour I start ruling out local schools as I wouldn’t want my children to teenagers like that #DreamTeam

  18. Nita says:

    That’s awful to come across. Children these days are no longer children, my mum blames it on the lack of parenting and “mothers” taking on the role as mums and full-time workers, which to be honest, doesn’t leave you much time to spend with the kids if you’re stuck at work for 10 hours a day. Whatever the cause is, there’s no excuse for them to behave that way. Is this just to boost their ego or bravado? Then it makes it worse that they feel they have to act a certain way to fit in. I’m definitely aiming to bring up my boy with more respect than that. #DreamTeam

  19. Jade Bremner says:

    I think it is down to wanting to look ‘cool’ and as one of the lads with banter. It is the world we are living in not so much the parenting, we have TV shows that objectify both women and men and we deem that ok as it’s on a show but then we see it in the streets and we frown at it. I think the world needs to make it’s mind up and stop giving teenagers and young adults mixed messages #DreamTeam

  20. Mummy Setra says:

    I really wonder whether the parents are aware – and then think, how can they not be?! Really hope my toddler does not grow up to be one of those boys!!! Scares me!

  21. Fi Anderson says:

    This sort of attitude totally stinks. There’s absolutely no excuse for them to get away with such inappropriate and harmful behaviors, just because they’re boys! #dreamteam

  22. Oh, I have goose bumps reading this today. What an awful experience. And no, it is not just a London thing. The #MeToo movement has started and is spreading vast and wide. It is hard to believe these “boys” find this behavior okay. Parents need to parent, no doubt. We wouldn’t want little button or my kinder experiencing anything like that… ugh. No excuses. We need to hold everyone accountable and stop treating women like meat. I wanna scream! #dreamteam xoxo

  23. Dynamic Dad says:

    The behaviour is totally abhorrent – and I can only hope that if their parents did find out they’d be as mortified as I would if it was my kid. I suspect that there’s a double edged sword here though – you can only turn a blind eye if you know about it – and too often now people fail to raise important issues with those who can deal with it i.e. the parents in this case. It’s a sad state of affairs and I fear things may reach ‘breaking point’ before they get better. I’m sorry it happened to you, and from the sounds of it often.

  24. People should stop making excuses for bad behaviour. I’m terribly sorry that you had to endure that kind of harassment as that is what it was. So they go around and suss out women and girls.This kind of behaviour is unacceptable #dreamteam

  25. Jean says:

    Annette, I fear it may be too late for those boys! Unbelievable. When I hear any of those inane remarks excusing boys’ bad behavior, I just want to slap the parent. Surprisingly, it’s usually the mother, proud of her son’s latest loutish episode.

  26. Michelle says:

    It’s not just a London thing. It’s all over. I grew up in Baltimore, Maryland and I can tell you the behavior down there is awful. Men think they have a right to talk to a woman however they please and it’s gross! I have two boys and when I became their mother I swore I would raise them better than that. They are 16 and 11 and they definitely don’t act like that. And I will on occasion have “talks” with them reminding them to always be respectful and what that looks like. See, it’s the “what that looks like” that is the bigger parenting responsibility because we can talk to our boys all we want but if we don’t model good behavior and in conversations use examples of bad vs good, then they won’t get it. It’s not that they’re stupid mind you, it’s just that the talk has to go hand in hand with modeling the behavior you want your kids to live out. I’m sorry this happened to you. It’s abhorrent to think this is still happening in 2018. It’s a huge lack of respect. These days our kids aren’t being shown what respect is supposed to be. #DreamTeam

  27. I can’t believe that happened to you! And that that sort of thing happens regularly. It might be a city thing – I live in a seaside town and don’t get that crap, that I’m aware of anyway. It’s frightening to think that behaviour is so normalised for some people, and totally agree it should never be brushed off because they’re ‘boys’. #BlogCrush

  28. Its shocking that this happens to you on a frequent basis. I want my boys to grow up as gentlemen, not brutes! I know that when boys get together they show off, but they need to be taught that they can show off in a way that isn’t gloating about their latest sexual conquest or making people nervous when they walk by! #dreamteam

  29. Helena says:

    Another sign that sadly females and males are not seen as equals and each respected?! #DreamTeam

  30. This is appalling behaviour. I’m sure the parents would either be horrified or in complete denial. I hope my sons will be lovely young men but I worry about peer pressure as they get older. #dreamteam

  31. Crummy Mummy says:

    I am truly shocked! How truly awful! And poor you! I’m not sure what I would have done in this situation – probably cried! Oh, & that’s another reason to shop online! #DreamTeam

  32. No, this would horrify me! Boys certainly should not be boys if that’s the accepted norm, I hope my son never behaves like that, I hope we’ve reared him to show more respect. I’m not sure I would have known what to say back to them. A group of teens is a scary thing though, even girls can be intimidating at times. Congrats for having your post chosen by another blogger to be featured on the #blogcrush linky, feel free to pop across and grab your ‘I’ve been featured’ badge.

  33. The title of this post really peaked my interest as a mother of a boy. I can’t tell you how much I relate to this, in college we have to walk through a very narrow corridor that’s filled with lockers and that’s where the mechanics get ready for their class (it’s not ideal at all) and every morning without fail there would be comments of “check her arse out” or “I wouldn’t fuck an old bird” (referring to my friend who is in her 50s but damn she looks good anyway, regardless of age) and as the year went on they got bolder and bolder and at one point someone touched my bum! I brought it up to the head of their department and the man told me, “boys will be boys” I’m sorry (not sorry) but that’s an absolute cop out, it’s not a valid excuse and they need to take responsibility for this behaviour! As a mum to a boy I’m making sure I raise my son with enough sense to not become another mindless boy who can’t show some respect.

    Jordanne || Thelifeofaglasgowgirl.co.uk

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