Are Boys Jerks?


Story 1: Shortly before dusk on a recent evening, I walked up one of the few streets in my neighborhood with a sidewalk.  In between the sidewalk and a neighbor’s fence lay a thoroughly dead crow.  Figuring a bird vs. automobile accident had occurred, I shrugged and walked on.  Half a block on, I found a black feather, planted in the ground like a flag.  Huh.  Continuing, more black feathers appeared, singly and in clusters, spread out at regular intervals for a couple more blocks. 


I tried to imagine how this had happened, and concluded that some odious boy or group of odious boys had gleefully plucked feathers from the unfortunate dead creature and decorated the neighborhood with them.  Admittedly, I have no way of knowing this for sure.  But did any of you picture a girl yanking feathers out of the bird?  No?  I didn’t think so.  I also admit that we as a societal group yank feathers out of dead birds all the time, so there’s no rational reason why this instance should have offended me.  But since this was not a chicken that must be defeathered to be eaten, it struck me as a desecration of a corpse. 



Story 2: My nine-year-old has taken a series of classes in camps this summer.  She generally chooses theater, art, and cooking classes, all of which primarily attract girls.  A couple of weeks ago she took a class called “Inventive Creativity.”  It wasn’t clear from the description what the class would entail, but I should’ve guessed it would be full of boys. 


The class turned out to be not much fun at all.  The instructor spent entirely too much time lecturing the group about inventors and the inventing process and applying for patents and whatnot.  There was little hands-on activity.  My daughter declared it boring, a word she had not applied to any of her other classes.


Even worse, the boys were jerks. One day the class was split into small groups.  Little Bit was in a group with three boys.  They were supposed to brainstorm solutions to some inventing problem.  Little Bit proffered a suggestion; the boys in her group ignored it.  She thought they hadn’t heard her, so she repeated it.  They continued talking amongst themselves as if she were not there.  She tried a third and even a fourth time.  No response.  Finally one of the boys repeated her idea as if it were his own, and the others responded enthusiastically. 


When she described this event to me, all the times I’ve ever been invisibled came flooding back. The next day I pulled her out and put her in an art class with five other girls.  She had a great time.



Story 3: I’m not sure how it came up, but in a recent discussion with my daughter, her friend, and the friend’s dad, we all agreed that boys are jerks.  My husband objected to this characterization, saying that not all boys are jerks, and that the girls should not so precipitously assume that boys will be jerks until said boys have demonstrated their jerkitude.  And of course this is true.  But it doesn’t matter to the girls, because they know from nine long years of experience that boys are jerks.  If an individual boy turns out to be an exception, that’s always a pleasant surprise, but one can’t expect that or one is bound to be disappointed.


Are boys inherently jerks? 






14 thoughts on “Are Boys Jerks?

  1. Not inherently, but disproportionately, and it’s kind of a crow-or-the egg problem. Which came first, the societal expectation that boys do destructive, thoughtless, and crude stuff, or the phenomenon, which created the stereotype. I do know that in Israel, gangs of ‘guys’ of all ages, especially in blighted neighborhoods, run around most of their dumb lives breaking stuff and irritating normal people. My two latest sweet kittens were rescued on the edge of death from such a wanton mob. And no playground equipment lasts more than a few weeks.As to the truly hurtful behavior toward your dear daughter, I’ve seen it happen myself, but also to anyone sensitive, m/f. A brutal and brutalizing culture all around. I can only guess what it might feel like to be young and never have known anything different.  

  2. The short answer is no but some certainly are.   Peer pressure is partly to blame.   How they are raised is another cause.  The same answer applies to girls as well.    I know two cubs who turned out just fine.  

  3. Most of my daughter’s bullies over the years have been boys, but alternately some of her best friends over the years have been boys, too.  She hasn’t ruled them all out, that they’re all jerks, but I think part of that has to do with the fact that she’s learned that most boys haven’t been taught to treat girls as equals or are treated less than equal at home themselves, so they repeat observed behavior.My son is very much of the idea that most boys his age (13) are jerks.  Ill-mannered, loud idiots with no desire to learn, and absolutely no respect for authority.  There are exceptions, of course, but he finds them few and in-between.  Alternately, he finds girls just as annoying, though, and has been made to feel invisible in their midst as well.  

  4. I don’t think boys are jerks. I think a lot of humans are socialized in negative ways in the society I’m immersed in. Most humans I know are really self-centered and often cruel in their oblivious attitudes. I know plenty of women who are jerks too. Regardless, all humans get a chance to prove jerkitude before judgment.

  5. awww, come on, you can’t possibly be biased by the fact that you are the mother of two wonderful and well-behaved girls now, could you??  Not all boys are jerks – and a fair share of the bullies we’ve encountered the past few years were girls.  And my kids have been made to feel invisible by adults/teachers more often than by classmates of any gender.  That said, are you getting their pre-application materials ready for Wellesley? Smith? Mills?  

  6. I think that people, for the most part, are jerks, but perhaps boys disproportionately so, as they have more “power” in society (and by “boys” I mean any immature (in chronological or developmental age) males). I don’t have much issue with the crow, despite my love of birds; I suspect there was less actual plucking involved, as, for all their machoness, boys are pretty easily grossed out. More likely it was hit by a car or predated by a hawk, and they found a lot of feathers and maybe pulled a few out of a chunk of corpse, and fooled around with them. But we’ll never know. The inventing thing was typical jerky male behavior, and ideally, she should have notified the instructor after being “invisibled” a couple of times. While it is possible she could have been more vehement in her attempts at being heard, I suspect the boys *were* being intentionally dismissive of her, even though they thought her ideas were worth stealing. And that should not be tolerated by the instructor. As to the last part, well, boys CAN be jerks, sure, but girls can be downright evil, knowing how to dice and slice a girl’s psyche to the bone, and hurt her permanently. Boys, for the most part, while jerky, tend to just be trying to get the upper hand in any single situation. And the question is, will they make poor decisions in trying to get that upper hand? Many, especially those NOT raised with strong boundaries as to what is acceptable behavior, will do it with impunity. They tend to be the jerks. Alas, they also, often enough, become successful. Many others will do only what is generally recognized as fair in order to maximize their ‘position’ in a given situation–those are the ones that are NOT jerks, though, sometimes, in the constant male jostling for position, they appear to be insensitive. Lastly there are the most sensitive types, that tend to get abused by their male peers, and sometimes become jerks themselves as a result. So are boys jerks? Well, yeah, a lot of them are. But a lot of them aren’t. And the same goes for girls, though they are generally much more subtle about their misdeeds, as they have always been taught the importance of appearances, and pleasing people. Sorry your daughter had to go through that unpleasantness.

  7. I think the word “jerk” implies outward obnoxious behavior — loud, rude, pesky, etc.  In that sense, boys are more likely to be jerks than girls.  However, choose a different word with negative connotations that implies more vindictive, subversive and backstabbing behavior (hate to say it, but “bitch,” e.g.) and there are many more girls in that category.  My 8 y.o. daughter has far more issues with “mean girls” than with jerky boys.  My 6 y.o. son is still young enough that jerkiness can pass for goofiness, at times, but he is often singled out and complimented by teachers, friends and other parents for what can be described as his “unjerkiness.”  This leads me to believe that even at a young age, perhaps most boys are in fact jerks.  Sadly, though, I think that truly well behaved, respectful kids are the minority, regardless of gender.

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