I recently saw a photo of a friend's little boy. He's a toddler, and extremely adorable, but what struck me about the photo was not his goofy smile or his silly antics — it was his shirt. The shirt read, "Boys will be boys held accountable for their actions."
At its best, the saying "boys will be boys" is simply meant to joke about the mischief young boys can get into. But the growth of the #MeToo movement has highlighted a more negative side to this common phrase — and the ways this mentality might actually be harmful to women AND to men.
And if the "boys will be boys" mentality is hurting boys here in America, what is it doing to boys growing up alongside India and Thailand's booming sex industry?
The impact poverty and a misogynistic mindset have on girls in these countries is fairly obvious. In the slums of India and Thailand, girls without an education must often join the sex industry to survive. It's culturally accepted and expected.
But what about the boys? How does growing up around the sex trade impact them?
They suffer abuse and assault
A single mother working in the sex industry has two choices. She likely cannot afford child care, so if she has no family nearby, she is forced to leave her young children at home alone or bring her customers to her house. Both situations leave her child vulnerable to abuse and severe physical and emotional trauma.
Cases of sexual assault and child abuse often go unreported. There is usually fear of retaliation, and because a sex worker and her children are considered some of the lowest members of society, their stories of abuse aren't believed ... or considered important.
With no access to counseling or therapy, these boys will endure personal and relational issues for the rest of their lives.
They become numb to the horrors of the sex industry
If #MeToo has taught us anything, it's that the messages we send as a culture matter. We as a society should be held accountable for what we teach our children. And when a boy grows up watching his mother and sisters objectified and forced to sell their bodies, he is conditioned to believe that this is normal.
He is taught that women are property and that their only value is in their bodies. With this mentality, he will be more likely to abuse women as he grows up or even become a pimp.
It is a cycle of misogyny that will stop only if these boys begin to hear a different message.
They are stuck in poverty
Without an education, even if a boy manages to reach adulthood unscathed by the sex industry, he will likely remain in poverty the rest of his life.
His wife and kids will grow up in the same community and around the same horrors he did — and he will be powerless to stop them from falling prey to a cultural tradition of abuse.
Read more from "Boys also need to be rescued from the sex industry" on The Christian Post.