[OPINION] Why we need to stop excusing boys for being boys

I grew up in a house where my mother was the breadwinner and made the decisions, while my father stayed at home doing housework. This wasn't a plan my parents made, but rather a matter of consequence since my father was very sickly. I didn't realize the impact this would make on me until in elementary and high school when I slowly became a feminist.

In Technology and Livelihood Education (TLE), there were lessons that taught us about gender roles: how mothers were in charge of the house and how fathers were breadwinners. This idea was foreign to me to the extent that I failed an exam since I didn't believe what the book had said. But a failed score didn't stop me from knowing that the roles parents could have were interchangeable. This was clearly a bias on gender roles that were more in favor of men rather than women.

The problem now pervades in a society where men are not held accountable by their actions. That society gives them so much privilege to the point that it saves them from having any repercussions.

Such an instance is that in social media, there have been reports of boys from academic institutions sharing lewd photographs of their classmates. This is a clear violation of the law, with some even hinging on child pornography, but the sanctions given to the perpetrators were a mere slap on the wrist.

It makes my blood boil to see boys sharing nudes of their classmates among themselves and having no respect whatsoever for the women in those photos.

What makes me even angrier are the decisions of educational institutions to downplay the situation to save themselves. By handing out the diplomas of the alleged perpetrators, they doomed themselves by showing everyone that they still reward inappropriate actions.

Schools are supposed to be a safe zone for children, in whatever form of safety that may manifest. Schools are no longer safe zones from sexual harassment. (READ: [OPINION | Dash of SAS] School punishment for boys and girls)

Administrators, principals, and teachers need to understand that the children that they are fostering now are the better tomorrow. They are the institution that is responsible for the outcome of the next generation. They should lead by example and show that the intrusion of women and disrespect to whomever should not be a norm, and that grave offenses should be punishable.

We see the manifestation of these actions even in the highest office of the government, the President's tirades and rape jokes are a result of a society that stemmed from this hateful and violent bias. We should not be tolerating this kind of behavior anymore from anyone – nor should we excuse our boys to crimes they've committed due to the standard of "boys will be boys."

Change needs to start small. It is up to our schools to teach the youth of this nation that these kinds of behavior have no place in the future to come. It is time that they think first of the well-being of the youth and their image second. Maybe by then could we live in a society where there is no more hate, nor do we crown privilege on the basis of sex and gender.

I remember being asked by a friend: If I'd have a choice to change the sex I was born into, would I choose to be a female instead? I replied that I'd still prefer to be a man. I wanted to remain a man since I can use the privilege given by society to voice out concerns of women.

This has always been the responsibility of people with privilege: to speak and fight for those who have less. The world needs more men who share the views of feminist ideals. (READ: [OPINION] This is what we want for our women)

What it means to be a feminist, in my opinion, is the fight for equality.

It is not simply the discussion of not giving up our seats for women, but rather the discussion of deeper social issues that women and LGBTQ+ communities face today like uneven wages, employment discrimination, domestic and sexual abuse, and other problems. Problems that men like me, in all privilege, almost never experience.

It is time that men also fight against the toxic masculinity and patriarchy and revere everyone, no matter what gender, as equal to everyone else. By then can we see the beginning of change. – Rappler.com

Gillian Reyes is a registered librarian who works at the University of the Philippines Diliman. He often writes stories for children, and hopes to build a library for kids someday.