The Christian Science Monitor

The legacy of 'boys will be boys' on American life

When it comes to the proper behavior of its young men, American society has long maintained a not-so-subtle ambivalence about the way boys are supposed to grow up and develop into men.

Perhaps since the Victorian era, beneath the surface of accepted social values that would uphold a sober-minded code of behavior for its young men, many Americans also maintain a certain belief that the next generation of strong, masculine leaders need a time to explore their own testosterone and often alcohol-fueled wildness and aggression.

It’s an ambivalence that comes with a ready-made list of clichés: “Boys will be boys,” boys need time to “sow their wild oats,” and, as expressed more recently, boys should have a private “locker room culture.” And if many men in their formative teens and early 20s are loud, loutish, and sexually

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