Peter Alexander, there’s nothing OK about this saying. Picture: Peter Alexander
Peter Alexander, there’s nothing OK about this saying. Picture: Peter Alexander

These sexist PJs are not good enough

OPINION

EVERY day, a new outrage.

Today, it's about a jumper from Peter Alexander. The pyjama shop usually only offends those who don't eat sugar because of its overuse of cupcakes on flannelette pyjama pants.

The offending jumper says: "Boys will be boys."

Obviously, Peter Alexander's merchandising team aren't the "wokest" on earth, otherwise this wouldn't have seen the insides of a sewing factory before hitting Aussie shelves. We've got form with clothing outrage.

Do we all need to chill out? Have a chuckle and a nod and admit to ourselves that "boys will be boys"? Is there any need for them to be ripped off the shelves?

Bridie Harris, the Melbourne mum who discovered the jumper, said on Facebook: "Boys won't be boys. Boys will be held accountable for their actions. I hate to see an Australian store, who makes such great PJs, put such a sexist statement on a T-shirt intended for young boys. Excusing boys of their behaviour is not a step in the right direction. It's 2018."

Mark Latham, Australia's most rabid defender of the rights of the marginalised white man, arced up immediately on his own Facebook page, saying: "Now this completely innocent phrase has become yet another victim of PC madness. The feminazis say it is a cause of male violence."

He points out that his boys once loved to play in dirt and help him in the garden. As though this phrase would be innocently used to describe these sweet acts.

Putting aside the fact there are plenty of little girls who also enjoy playing in dirt and messing around in a garden, "boys will be boys" is rarely used to describe the sweet, mischievous behaviour of little boys.

Think about it - it's usually used to describe questionable behaviour from older boys, a.k.a men.

The anti-PC brigade might think it’s ridiculous, but there’s a good reason this phrase shouldn’t be emblazoned on pyjamas. Picture: Peter Alexander
The anti-PC brigade might think it’s ridiculous, but there’s a good reason this phrase shouldn’t be emblazoned on pyjamas. Picture: Peter Alexander

I grew up in a home with a kind, gentle father and two brothers who took the lead of how to behave as men from Dad. The parenting my sister and I received didn't seem to be removed at all from the parenting our brothers had. As kids in a small country town, we played with the kids down the street in grubby hoards - building cubby houses, catching yabbies, rollerskating in new real estate developments, hiking across cow paddocks, rescuing sick animals.

Never, was the expression "boys will be boys" used in our house to excuse the behaviour of one of my brothers or our male friends. We were all naughty as kids from time to time, but none of this naughtiness was attributed to our gender. It was attributed to selfish choices.

The only time it was used in our house? A riff on it, sarcastically, while watching the footy, during a bit of biff. "The boys are at it!"

This is because, implicit in the phrase "boys will be boys" takes away the moral, intellectual act inside a moment of bad behaviour. It is an excusing of the person to their gender. That because of the testosterone, the man in question just couldn't help his actions and is reduced to being a "boy" unable to control himself.

A fight at the end of a piss-up? Boys will be boys. A bloke having an unwanted crack at a stripper on a bucks weekend? Boys will be boys. A footy team gang banging a groupie after a big game? Boys will be boys.

It's 2018. "Boys will be boys" doesn't cut it anymore, and it never really has.

We're living in a culture now where women are speaking up and demanding men who behave badly take responsibility for these actions. That they can't excuse harassment, violence and sexual assault to something that's out of their control.

"Boys will be boys" can get stuffed. It's never been used to describe the decent actions and behaviour of a man or boy, and it never will be.

Do better next time, Peter Alexander. Try and stick to cupcakes and cute little puppies on your jammies, please?

 

Follow Melanie Tait on Twitter @melanietait