Boys Should Be Boys - Not Perpetrators

By Jake Bjork (Optimistic Activist)

“It’s just really hard to control yourself when testosterone is boiling throughout your body.” I could hardly remain seated in my campus auditorium while I listened to my fellow classmate justify his claim about people committing sexual assault. That day, a handful of first-year students at Washington University gathered together to be educated about sexual assault on college campuses. During an interactive dialogue, this student explained how he believed that people can’t completely control their actions while they’re angry, using male physiology as the primary excuse. As he stood in front of hundreds of students and proudly proclaimed this statement, I was speechless.

According to statistics provided by RAINN (Rape Abuse and Incest National Network), about 1 in 4 women attending college are victims of sexual assault. In cases involving individuals identifying as LGBTQ+, the numbers are even higher. Yet through these instances, a more staggering statistic arises: only 20% of these victims reported to law enforcement. But why?

Two weeks following an experience with rape, 94% of survivors report symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder. About 70% experience moderate to severe distress. Survivors are also vulnerable to substance abuse. So why do survivors stay silent? Could it be that they’re too traumatized to report their assault? Are they scared that if they come forward, the perpetrator will harm them? Or do they believe that their story will be dismissed and invalidated, simply because of present-day justifications like “boys will be boys”? l am not a researcher or an expert in this area of study-- but one doesn’t have to be in order to recognize that these statistics are both alarming and out of control.

We’re the generation that’s supposed to attack problems like these. We’re the generation to be innovative, open-minded, and accepting. We’re the generation to be educated and “woke.”

However, we’re not the generation to be passive about issues directly affecting the people sitting next to us in class. We’re not the generation to discredit and downplay the feelings of people who are victims of crimes like sexual assault. And we’re not, and should never be, the generation to blame our hormones for violent, abusive, or non-consensual actions.

To take action, you could start by visiting the RAINN website, where they have a section specifically dedicated for student activism. They provide multiple resources to get involved, such as posters to spread throughout your school, information about how to participate in a sexual assault initiative called the “It’s On Us” campaign (which I’m currently involved with), and even a request form to invite a survivor to speak at an event, such as a school assembly.

As a male college student, I believe that it’s inexcusable to use my physiology as a way to get away with forcing unwanted sexual actions upon someone else. If you don’t ask, assume the answer is no. And if they say no, take no for an answer.

Let’s strive to live in a world where all of our bodies are prioritized above sexual desires and testosterone.

**Sidenote: Although this article primarily focuses on sexual assault committed by college-aged men against college-aged women, I want to also acknowledge that this problem spans to a much wider range of ages, races, genders, and sexual orientations. A victim, regardless of their identities, are still victims, and the overarching issue of sexual assault needs to be addressed for peoples of all kinds.**

Here's how author Jake Bjork suggests you can get involved: Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network (RAINN)

Take Action Now: Women, Civil Liberties, Community Organizing