Stop making excuses for men acting like boys

The saying “boys will be boys” seems to carry a lot of weight. Regardless if a male is five or 25, the idea of an impish boy just being foolish offers an excuse for plenty of things. When does that excuse go too far? Chalking a man’s actions up to boyish immaturity is a practice that goes on far too often.

In many people’s eyes, college-age males are stuck between being boys and men. I believe the 17 to 19 year old men entering college are just that – men. In the eyes of the law, many of those men are legal adults, so why do so many get away with acting like children?

I understand it is wrong to assume the majority of men in college act irresponsibly, but the idea of one bad egg spoiling the bunch is true. Regardless of their year in school, it is not difficult to find men acting like boys on a college campus.

Boys to men on campus

I don’t have to look too far to find the same entitlement supported by immaturity because it’s present on campus. Preteen pranks and immature jokes run rampant through classrooms and residence halls.

It would be unfair to say that every male student on campus fits into the mold, but it is hard to ignore the actions of those who do. Breaking policy while running wild off campus is the core issue with the neighbors who surround the campus. The sense of entitlement to act like a boy provides an excuse to scream through the quad at 2 a.m., run from Public Safety after violating policy and vomit in various public places.

From out-of-control partying to ripping down posters in hallways, the instances are often ignored by most of my peers. Rather than questioning the phallic symbol drawn on a white board, another excuse is made and the men are let off the hook. The crude drawing isn’t rightfully viewed as destruction of property, but rather another boyish joke.

Some may say this isn’t the real world – it is only college. In my opinion, the line between university life and the real world is very thin. If male students aren’t learning to take responsibility for the bulletin boards they rip down, when will they really learn to grow up?

Ivy league lads

Recently on the Yale University campus, fraternity members have been scolded for disrupting the college environment. Pledges from the Delta Kappa Epsilon’s Phi chapter yelled shocking chants about rape during the night outside of a freshman dorm.

Fortunately, the men were able to be held accountable on a national scale thanks to a YouTube video showing the acts. CNN covered the story and opened the discussion to the public. I was surprised to find some people chalking the situations up to the men simply being “frat boys.”

The actions of those men challenged the safety of the young men and women living in their dorms. Those men knew very well how inappropriate their chants were, but chose to say them anyway. Simply saying boys will be boys isn’t enough.

The mentality of the public needs to change. We should no longer see college males as boys who will one day graduate into manhood. Men entering college have had years of education and upbringing and know right from wrong. Boys will be boys, but men should act their age.

Gina Dolski can be reached at

11 Replies to “Stop making excuses for men acting like boys”

  1. Gina,
    I understand that you’re not trying to criticize the male gender as a whole, and I appreciate that, especially in an age where it seems to be perfectly acceptable to marginalize the male gender.  (For example, look at any tv sitcom or tv commercial.  Men are always completely incompetent at everything except football and beer) And I have to agree with you, when I see “men” acting like preteens, I shake my head in disgust. It’s a crying shame how people never hear about those students who are getting high grades, who are presenting at academic conferences, students who volunteer at homeless shelters and hospitals, and students who are active in their faith communities.  Loud, boisterous behavior is what people are going to hear about, and what people are going to talk about.  Why do you think the Paris Hiltons and the Jersey Shores of our society are so infamous?  It’s unfortunate to me that much of the time at UST, negative behavior is carried out by “men” acting like boys.  I agree that “boys will be boys” is not a sufficient excuse or explanation, it’s a slight and an insult to the male gender. This is adulthood. Accept that there are consequences for your actions, and consider the impact that your actions have on other people. Partying is really fun,…

  2. Anyone that has spent an extended amount of time with men know that this behavior doesn’t stop as a male ages. There is no real behavioral line between men and boys. I’m sorry if this offends the males out there, but in my experience it is absolutely true.  Now, where that behavior surfaces can be an issue to focus on, but believing that it will somehow stop completely isn’t going to be helpful.

  3. My comment got cut off.  Partying is really fun, but have some respect for others was approximately what I meant.

  4. I really enjoyed the portion of this mini-tirade you dedicated to women who also act in immature ways during these naive college years to balance out your argument.

  5. @Brett- I took the “boys” thing as a rhetorical play on the phrase- “boys will be boys” which is often used to excuse behavior that is not fitting for boys or men. Maybe I’m not reading this right, but I didn’t take this as a call for an end to immature behavior, but rather a call to end immature behavior that is harmful.

    @Thomas, I would guess the Yale incident which many people seemed to react to with a “boys will be boys” attitude.

  6. While I agree, I also feel that the women on this campus haven’t exactly found their maturity yet either. That being said, we do tend to excuse bad behavior from young men more than from young women, possibly because of our society’s agreement reality that men are more immature than women. This article makes a great point….where does “college! let’s do something stupid!” end and “you’re old enough to know better” begin? I believe (for both genders) that if you’re old enough to vote, old enough to join the army, and old enough to be treated as an adult under the law, you should be old enough to conduct yourself in a semi-respectable manner. On second thought, let them be immature. In anywhere from 1-4 years they’ll be searching for a job, and I’m sure potential employers will love the Facebook photos of them passed out on a friend’s lawn after a beer pong tournament or vomiting uncontrollably after eating five Chipotle burritos on a dare. . .

  7. I guess I’m failing to see the substantive reasoning behind this article. Men are immature, and women can be too. If society is excusing the behavior with the phrase “boys will be boys” then I’d direct my focus at society. It is not logical to hope that men(or anyone) would change their behavior when the environment is accepting and often supportive of it.

  8. Brett- “If society is excusing the behavior with the phrase “boys will be boys” then I’d direct my focus at society.” I think that’s what the article is saying. Note for example, the title of the article (i.e., “Stop making excuses for men acting like boys” rather than “Men, stop acting like boys”), and the first sentence of the last paragraph, “The mentality of the public needs to change.”

  9. I certainly caught that opening and the closing. The rest just appear to be a muddled mix of misplaced frustration. Not that that is unreasonable. Men get away with a lot, in general. Society condones it, women in particular could generate a greater change than men in actively altering society’s opinion on the issue. However, women weren’t mentioned at all. A bunch of older men with the same lax attitudes facing them growing up, aren’t going to be strict on the young generations without good cause. Not sure what that will be though.  

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