Boys Will Be Boys

By Dan Conaway

BOYS WILL BE BOYS. AND THAT CAN BE VERY BAD. If you don’t think teenage boys are thinking about sex virtually every waking moment and dreaming about it virtually every second asleep then you never were one, never the parent of one, or never knew one. If you think wagging a finger at them will stop them, or fairy tales about sexuality instead of honest truth will change them, then you’re either in self-righteous denial or participating in society’s greatest conspiracy:

Blame it on the girls.

When it comes to sex outside of marriage, boys get a wink and a slap on the back, girls just get slapped. Boys become “studs,” girls become “sluts.” Boys get “lucky.” Girls get “knocked up.” While boys get a pass from other boys, girls get “in trouble.” While boys get props, girls get pregnant. And boys get to make the rules.

When the boys in the state legislature – they are mostly boys – aren’t busy knuckle dragging us back to the Scopes Trial, they’re manning the battlements against sex education, birth control and a woman’s constitutional right to choose what’s right for her own body. Nationally, the boys man the front lines, determining the difference between “legitimate” and “illegitimate” rape and advising women to hold aspirin between their knees. Locally, the boys are helping in the fight by making sure a faith-based organization gets our tax money to deliver a sermon along with the health care our poor women so desperately need.

As a result, needing only help and no further judgment from society, women are staying away in droves. Last December alone, Christ Community saw 22 times less women than Planned Parenthood of Memphis saw in December 2010 – 22 times less women receiving basic reproductive health care – not pregnancy termination – 22 times less women getting the help they need the most and can least afford.

As a result, thousands of women in the state’s poorest urban area, in the state’s largest city with the most single mothers and premature births, are being left out there on their own in the name of some moral lesson the boys want to teach them, or to deny support to one organization for one unrelated reason.

As a result, about half of the Title X funding of $1,345,000 to Shelby County to help those women will go unused and will not rollover next year.

Of course we should teach responsibility, but promoting sexual ignorance gives our young people no chance of finding out what irresponsibility causes.

Of course tenets of faith can provide guidance and support, but just because Christ is in the name of an organization that doesn’t give that organization sole province of helping the poor and helpless.

I recently read a letter to the editor suggesting that there should be a free birth control pill dispenser on every corner. I would only add that every one of those pills should be wrapped in a condom.

Boys will be boys. It’s time we held them responsible.

I’m a Memphian, and our girls need our help.

Dan Conaway is a lifelong Memphian, longtime adman and aspiring local character in a city known for them. Reach him at