Posted by: joshjasper | December 6, 2008

If I were a boy

Have you seen Beyonce’s video “If I were a boy”?  If not, before reading on, check this out: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8c0wqoj3lEM This song is quite powerful and really speaks to our reality. 

The song opens with Beyonce talking about how if she were a boy, she would drink beer with the guys and chase after girls and could be with anyone she wanted because she knows that her friends would lie for her if confronted.  I can imagine being in the bar with my friends and watching as one of my married friends flirts with another woman.  I can also imagine standing by and not saying anything while I wrestle internally about what I should do, if anything.  As in violence prevention, a bystander’s silence to violence is in fact not silence, but is actual consent to the behavior. 

Beyonce later continues pretending to be a boy and how she would live in a world in which she puts herself first and makes up the rules.  This inequality she speaks of really is the core of sexual and domestic violence.  Rape, sexual assault, incest, battering, harassment all occur because of the inequality that continues to remain between sexes.  If men did not see women as less than, this type of violence would not occur, or at least would not occur at such alarming rates.

The last part of the song Beyonce shifts her perspective back to being a woman and talks about how she stands by, waiting for the man in her life to stop taking her for granted, hoping he will realize what he has done to harm the relationship, and how it can never be the same again.  This perpetual hope for the man that batters his wife  to stop and be a better man, a man that she knows he can be,  is all too common for women that have survived domestic violence. 

The closing line might be the most telling though.  “But You’re Just a Boy.”  This line to me speaks to how the expectations for men have become so low that it is not even realistic to think that by being a man you could even understand, much less do something about violence prevention because of our gender.   Time and time again I am asked why I am working for a rape crisis center.  Sadly, that is not what is really being asked though.  The real question that people wanted answered is what is a MAN doing working for a rape crisis center.  Is it so surprising that a man would want to work toward a community free of violence?  Is it so alarming to consider that a MAN would advocate for women and children, even when it means challenging the attitudes and beliefs of other men?  The unfortunate reality is that it is surprising only because it opposes what all boys and men are taught concerning manhood and masculinity.

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