Almost every other day I get a text from my mom about something she finds super important, that’s really not important. However, her text the other day was actually alarming.
She sent me a picture of my 12-year-old sister’s black and blue fingernail.
Some little punk boy slammed her locker door onto her finger, and instead of apologizing, he told her that her finger shouldn’t have been in the way. Concerning enough, but the real issue came once my mom posted about the incident on Facebook.
Looking through the comments, I found people suggesting the boy had acted out in this way because he likes my sister. I didn’t realize the saying, “he’s only being mean to you because he likes you” was still floating around.
This idea is beyond problematic. It teaches girls to attribute abuse to love, fostering a perfect mindset for putting up with domestic abuse later on in life. It’s one thing to tease, but it’s another to relentlessly bully a crush. Even if this kid does have a crush on my sister, she didn’t welcome the attention and it shouldn’t be used to waive his actions.
Not only that, it’s further instilling toxic masculinity into our boys. In fact, the report “Masculine Norms and Violence, Making the Connections” explains that boys who hold traditional masculine attitudes are more likely to bully in order to gain control and enforce their masculinity.
If 12-year-old boys are slamming lockers on fingers, what are they going to be doing when they’re 15? 19?
The same report states grown-up men will resort to violence against women in order to reinforce their gender role and power in a relationship. Correlating violence with power and influence will only push our boys down a dark path. We need to teach our boys that treating girls with respect and kindness is the way to win her heart and teach our girls to accept nothing less.
My sister was mortified when my mom brought the situation to the principal, and she’d be mortified by this article if she ever used her phone to look at anything other than Tik Toks. But it’s important for her and all young girls to know their worth and stand up for it, so 12-year-old girls don’t become women that settle for the very opposite of love.