Judge Brett Kavanaugh has been nominated to the Supreme Court and has been accused of attempted rape as a seventeen year old. This has precipitated a national debate over acceptable teenage behavior.

Bett Kavanaugh and Donald Trump

Kavanaugh’s enablers have several, typical defenses for him. He was a hormone filled boy and boys will be boys – so he’s not responsible for his behavior. He was a teenager and we all know they have no judgment and can’t be held responsible for what they do. Or the favorite – he was blind drunk so of course, he can’t be responsible for his behavior.

Excessive alcohol at teenage parties

What are we telling our teenagers? We tell the boys “you have a free pass until legal adulthood.” To the girls, we say “avoid teenage boys unless you want to be raped and have no recourse, legal, or social protection.”

Aren’t we supposed to be training teenagers to be responsible adults? I understand their brains are not fully developed, their impulses are not under full control. Their judgment is still a work in progress.

Regardless, we still should be teaching them and holding them to society’s standards, like decency and respect for others. They may fail to achieve these standards all the time, but the standards still have to be there, as goals to strive for.

We have generations of twenty-somethings still living with parents, not making a living wage, and socially isolated. Maybe that’s, in part, because we don’t ask them to grow up while they are teenagers. Maybe they absorb the message that they’re not responsible for their behavior, their achievements, or their lives. When that message is internalized, it’s hard to flick a switch and suddenly have kids who are motivated, moral, and goal-oriented adults.

This is a bigger problem than sexual misconduct in teenage boys. In addition to absolving boys of responsibility for egregious and unacceptable behavior, it teaches them toxic attitudes to women that often follow them throughout their lives. They are taught to dehumanize and disrespect women.

If a boy wants sex, he can just do what Trump does – grab them by the pussy! If she doesn’t kick him in the nuts, he can do what he wants with her body. If she complains afterward, he can just say she asked for it, she wanted it, or she’s lying and it never happened. Take your pick.

Boys are seeing that this bullshit works. Women who say “NO” are either not being heard, or not being believed. Girls are seeing they are powerless – victims of a male-oriented sexual culture. These are not the attitudes we want in our young adults.

Why should we tolerate them in our teenagers?

High school is difficult enough for girls without having to worry about being a victim of sexual assault. The odds are too many high school girls will experience some form of sexual harassment. Most girls will never report it because they know they will be attacked and pilloried if they do.

So we are fostering a sense of entitlement in boys and an acceptance of victimhood and powerlessness in girls. These are really bad lessons to be teaching our kids. We are also creating a nationwide “us-against-them” situation between men and women.

How we handle high school sexual misconduct can have huge ramifications throughout our culture. Maybe this spotlight on the issue can give us a chance to recalibrate our attitudes. Maybe it will motivate us to train our teenagers to become responsible adults and citizens.

Categories: Education, Ellin Curley, manners & civility, Mental health

Tags: , , , , ,

47 replies

  1. These reports make me extremely sad and furios too. I only remember too well that when I was a teenager and young adult, I had NO idea about ‘my power’ – I also wasn’t very well instructed from my parents side, although much later on, my mum took it very badly when I told her that I wasn’t ever properly instructed on the ‘facts of life’…. she thought they had explained everything! And then the shame – I seem to have been a popular girl and I liked being funny and laughing – but boys took that obviously as an invitation to try stuff on me. One threw me literally into the snow during a week’s outing with all the apprentices of the large company I studied for my diploma and he sat on me, kissing me wildly and wetly, holding my arms over my head and pressing me into the snow. I felt a rage and didn’t speak a word with him for the rest of the week but didn’t know that I could have reported him…. I just felt powerless. His friends were ‘on my side’ and said he was a prick but I think they only wanted to know if they could try the same thing too. This was ‘nothing’ in comparison to what goes on and went on elsewhere but it formed a feeling of helplessness and impotence. It made me ‘outsmart’ them, I developped ‘speech’ patterns to put them in their place and this is even something that’s not very me, right up to now.
    My own son would never ever dream of behaving like that – but he learned from his mother that words can be swords far sharper than knives… It’s SO difficult to know how to handle stuff.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Which of us does NOT have a story or a dozen of them? Work, school, kids, adult — girls are prey for men and boys and this has never seemed to change. This is why when this whole “never again” thing came up, all I could think of was “yeah, sure, and for how long?”

      Liked by 1 person

  2. “Boys will be Boys”. Okay, this one didn’t fly when I was growing up. It was made clear by parents and family members, even the raunchier family members. Boys had their magazines and adult movies. Dream your fantasies, that was normal. But you never – EVER – took those porn fueled dreams as an excuse to assault a woman in the name of lust or entitlement.
    No legal border here. Needs to stop YESTERDAY.

    Political aspirants need to make this a priority in their campaigns in the upcoming Mid terms. If they don’t, they don’t get your vote.

    There are no cutting edge jokes here. It needs no encouragment in music or comedy.

    And, boys/men, there is NO entitlement – no matter WHO you are. And, there should be no statute of limitation.

    Hard time in the BiG HOUSE, in general population — should be parcelled out to all who are “special” and above the law.

    I remember covering too many cases where the responsible authorities looked the other way and the perps just snickered. The old ways need to disappear along with those who have no sense of shame.


  3. I agree with all that you’ve written. It seems we’ve been coming to another turning point moment in the fight for equality.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I couldn’t agree more, Marilyn. Our teenagers are for the most part “entitled” with no one daring to say no, or get off your butt and work. The worst part of course, is the examples being set and backed up by those in “power” whether it be ministers, political figures, police and others that kids are taught to emulate. Everyone holding a position of authority should and MUST be held to a higher accountability!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Considering the recent (another) Catholic church horror stories, I’m not sure who is left.


      • It’s horrifying in the extreme. What the hell is wrong with parents? Outside the fact they can’t say no, they don’t take the time to listen and be involved with their kids, they are addicted to their own crap whether it be games, tv alcohol or whatever! They are neglecting the most essential time of their child’s lives in setting standards and yes, morals as well as consequences – it makes me crazy!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

        Liked by 1 person

  5. That “boys will be boys” mantra reveals a lot of things — but one of them is that men should never be put in positions of leadership and if they get there, it will be through exploitation. I don’t like men, much. My “go to” reaction to them is avoidance because of the way I’ve been mistreated over the years. At this point in my life, a man has to prove he’s not an exploitative asshole. Fortunately MOST men I meet pass the test. Those who don’t? Well, I recently bought pepper spray.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You’ve also got a really big dog. That matters, too.

      Liked by 2 people

    • It’s a pity that men have most of the power in this country yet they have a warped and minimalistic sense of morality. They are also totally sexist. So when issues come up about abuse of women, the men are clueless. They adopt the ‘boys will be boys’ attitude or the ‘she asked for it or wanted it’ defense. Or they just deny that anything happened and call the woman a liar. This usually works – or at least it used to. Hopefully the women in America will rise up at the polls this November and let the powerful men know that their days of exploiting women are over.

      Liked by 2 people

    • Martha, “Boys will be boys” angers me so much. Mrs. Armstrongs’ 3 boys knew better. We knew what awaited us at home if we behaved badly. It forged our sense of ethics, right and wrong. Working in the world of TV News, where “games” were played daily, I had a clear focus. Mom (and Dad) were always in my mind when I came to a cross road.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Having been come on to by both boy and girl students hoping for a better grade, as well as being hit on by my own teachers (three of them?) thinking I would put out for a better grade? Not even counting my experiences in the professional worlds through which I wandered — law and teaching — I think there’s a big gray area out there. Apparently it “works.” My personal litany of “boys will be boys” is pretty harrowing — still not the majority of my encounters with men.

        Liked by 1 person

        • I don’t mean to suggest ALL men are like that. But far too many men in positions of authority or power ARE like that. Teachers, police, judges, lawyers, priests … EXACTLY the men who are supposed to be setting “good examples” to younger men. If these guys are shit, what kind of young men are they going to produce? The schools they go to are famous for the horrors that go on there — and that’s just guy on guy. It only gets worse when they meet the fair sex. I sometimes wonder how badly these guys were treated that they have so little respect for others or themselves. Do they not see the slime that sticks to them?

          Liked by 2 people

          • Marilyn, the prep school people DO see the slime but look the other way, afraid they’ll lose financial support from rich alumni, “the boosters”. Shame! I ran into many roadblocks covering sexual assault allegations at preppy schools and colleges. I essentially dismissed their “entitlement attitude” and pushed forward. You know about my clashes with certain Ivy League schools. They didn’t like my attitude. Tough!

            Liked by 1 person

          • I think as long as they succeed and as long as women (and men) pander themselves for advantages we’re not going to solve this. We’re also not going to solve it when it’s so difficult for the gropee to be believed by people who need to listen. AND I do not mean to imply that anyone who’s grabbed is asking for it. I know that isn’t true.


  6. The change needs to start at the top. If 45 and his minions demonstrate that this sort of attitude and privilege was OK throughout life, then others will think so too. Where is the moral leadership? We need to start by sweeping the supporters of 45 from office, and stop supporting those so called ministers who defend him.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Rich — you’re so right. Responsibility and accountability starts at the top. Family, country, government, business. No legalese escape hole.

      Liked by 1 person

    • It’s horrific that our leaders are totally amoral and sexist. The comments and defences coming from Washington are mind blowingly insensitive and entitled as well as sexist. We do need some moral leadership from the top and we’re not going to get it till the Demo9crats are back in control of the congress and the white house.

      Liked by 1 person

      • We are about to see a rerun of the Anita Hill testimony, but with a new cast…or should I say OLD cast.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Rich, thinking the same thing when they show Thomas’ face in video. Prof/Dr. Hill has been interviewed recently. She has strong cache — more now than ever.
          This Kavanaugh business is one more sickening piece of evidence about the status quo.
          I hope Rob Rosenstein doesn’t wilt and crumble. He could be a key to undoing the house of cards.
          I truly hope people, especially those whining forever, get off their bums, go out and send a clear message — we’ve had enough of the bad hombres.


      • And, the Democrats better make sure their house is in order.


    • Rich, to state the obvious. We’re morally bankrupt at the top of the chain. Donzo 45’s snide look says it all.

      Liked by 1 person

      • The problem with the midterms is the billionaire class will support the Republicans with ads. We need to take away 45’s majority.
        Here the billionaire class have a Dem and and a Republican running for governor, so it is not stop attack ads.


  7. I’m seeing an interesting dichotomy here: it’s obvious part of the issue is that he actually did NOT rape her. So in many eyes the rape didn’t happen, and that gives him a pass. That it was sexual abuse is overlooked, because the attempt was made and failed. That was HER fault for “letting it get that far”, and “she got what she deserved”. Oh, please.

    If actual rape didn’t happen, he’s expected to get a free pass, and it’s her fault.

    I was nearly raped exactly the same way, way way back when I was dating. I was at a quiet house party, had my one beer and fell asleep in a spare room. I woke up to find the host (in those days football linebackers weighed in at about 240) , a college football player, pinning me down in such a way that I literally could not move, or scream. He had me half undressed when someone came in the room, and he backed off. He was very puzzled when he discovered I was angry. “nuthin’ happened, what’re YOU pissed off about?” And while it left no scars, I connected when she said he had pinned her down so that she couldn’t move, and it was obviously a practice move for him.

    The girl that was mentioned as having been there has denied any knowledge of the party, and could very well be lying, to protect her own preciousness, and if so, shame on her.

    Liked by 1 person

    • “He DIDn’t rape her”. The old code phrase for “she wanted it”. NOT ACCEPTABLE! Not anymore — whoever’s son you are. No entitlement.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Sorry to hear that you had a similar assault in your past. You’re right that an assault does not need a completed sexual act to be traumatic and illegal. Men don’t seem to understand that putting someone in a helpless position and threatening a violent and/or sexual act, is horrible behavior and also criminal. ‘Boys’ who never grow up, have their own set of rules when it comes to molesting women. That’s what we have to end. ANd it should start in high school or even middle school, whenever sex ed is first taught. The ‘rules’ of acceptable sexual activity should be included in sex ed. Once you know how to do it, you should understand when it is acceptable and when it isn’t annd what is acceptable as well.

      Liked by 2 people

      • I think you’d be appalled at how many of us (including me) had similar incidents, never said anything to anyone because no one would do anything about it anyway … and most people would have then — and apparently still today — shrugged it off.


        • Women have been afraid to report because of the wringer they are put through when they do. Nothing has changed in that regard. So What is going to get these crimes reported more regularly?

          Liked by 1 person

        • And it would have somehow become our fault, since we had been taught since birth that the girl controls how far the boy can go in any situation. Gotta love the pressure they put on 15 and 16 year old girls… So no matter what happens, it’s always her fault.
          I cannot imagine telling anyone at the time what had happened. My father would have had a stroke, my mother would have said, “Oh Im so ashamed how could you have let that happen?” and “for heaven’s sake dont TELL anyone” before she whisked me off to the doctor to make sure I hadn’t been ‘violated”.

          When I went to college the dean of women was a lovely, elderly, serene, incredibly naive woman who actually told us that we should only date boys from the college, they would treat us like ladies (MEAT MARKET), and the town boys, well, they were only after ‘you know”.

          Liked by 1 person

          • Judy, I still think it begins in the home with Parents setting a course for kids. Dad can’t have a “cave man” attitude and expect his sons to be respectful of women. A lot of it falls on Mom to shape values for sons and daughters. That is so unfair.


    • It’s like a failed bank robbery. Do we let them get away with it because they alarms went off and they ran away? Wait until they REALLY rob a bank? Maybe kill a few people too?

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Teaching children like training puppies should begin early. “Boys, will be boys.” is no excuse for bad behaviour.

    Liked by 2 people

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