Men Will Be Men

Every year I participate in a local pageant. Yes, I have a lot of respect for pageants and the women that are a part of the program. Don't mess with me on pageants.

The biggest part of the pageant is, of course, the interview.

This summer, in preparation for my annual pageant, I found a list of commonly asked interview questions, complete with up-to-date current events and hard questions that can distinguish the airheads from the ones who know what they're talking about. I went through each subject and prepared a brief but direct answer. I was feeling pretty confident about the interview until I stumbled upon one question in particular.

At what point in a girl's life does she become a woman?

Ask me a question about Egypt or gun control or gay Boy Scouts and I could pull the perfect answer right out of my pocket. Zimmerman trial? Nailed it. Obama care? In the bag. I could hit any question on any controversial topic right out of the park with tact and elegance. But girls becoming women was by far the hardest question to answer.

There's the obvious answer. Boys and girls clearly become legally responsible for themselves when they turn 18 and they become adults when they turn 21. But we all know 17-year-old women and we all know 40-year-old boys. So when do they grow up? What makes them men and women?

I considered when a woman moves out for the first time. But no, I know several girls who moved out just days after graduation simply because they wanted to get away from the "restrictions" of living with their parents.

I considered when a woman gets her first credit card, but quickly realized my mistake. Giving a girl that little piece of plastic can often take a few years off the maturity process. 

I figured when a girl tries on her first pair of heels, or something. Just to be funny. But I realized with horror that, by that definition, I had not become a woman yet. No, I needed to fit into the category of being a woman for my answer to sound somewhat professional. 

I thought about it all summer long and never really formed a plausible answer. Thank heavens the judges didn't ask me any tough questions. Then again, imagine my frustration when, after all my hard work and preparation, the hardest question given to me was "if you could be any animal, what would you be?". Honestly? I had the best answer on the Boy Scouts.

But today, I found myself returning to this thought when I heard one of my least favorite phrases in the whole dang world, boys will be boys. 

Obviously, a boy came up with this saying. There's just no other explanation.

Boys will be boys... until they figure out that boys are stupid and men are great.

At what point in a boy's life does he become a man? Strangely enough, this only took seconds for me to answer. A boy becomes a man when he learns to respect women. When a boy realizes it's cool to talk respectfully to his mother. When a boy realizes that it's okay to help a girl without asking her for her number. When a boy learns that he's not the only one in the world.

College has certainly shed a great deal of light on the subject. All of a sudden, I'm surrounded by men. Men who have learned that it's okay to let somebody else do the talking. Men who don't have to bring a copy of their résumé on every date. Men who prepare for women to come to their house by preparing food instead of just throwing something together last minute. The only thing I'm really struggling to find here is a man who can properly ask a woman on a date. Just so we're all aware, texting is not an appropriate form of asking a woman on a date. Ever.

So, when does a girl become a woman? This has become a lot easier now: a boy becomes a man when he learns to respect women and a girl becomes a woman when she learns to respect herself. 

So often we see women who can't respect herself enough to walk with confidence. To love her body. To live without the security of a serious relationship. To walk tall without the crutch of popularity or perfection. To define beauty by what she sees in the mirror and not by what she sees on TV.

Come on, girls. Here I stand, begging the men of the world to step forward. But maybe they just need to see a few more beautiful women.

To the man that stopped me a few days ago, told me I was beautiful, and walked away without asking me for my number or anything, thank you. There's hope.

To the woman that stopped me on Tuesday and handed me a rose from a bouquet of roses she had just been given, I'm sure by some handsome bachelor, thank you. There's hope.

Boys can't "be boys" anymore. Girls can't "be girls" anymore. The excuses stop here. There's no more room in the world for 40-year-old boys and girls.

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