A few weeks ago, a private group chat among high-profile hockey players, including Winnipeg-born Washington Capitals forward Brendan Leipsic, came to light. The conversations, which weren’t particularly pleasant and don’t need to be repeated, were full of inappropriate and misogynistic comments directed towards teammates and women.
The NHL strongly condemned the vulgar statements, and has since placed Leipsic on unconditional waivers with the intention of terminating his contract.
Since the private messages were released for public consumption, I’ve seen a number people jumping to the defence of Leipsic and his cohorts saying, ‘It's locker room talk’ or ‘it was a private conversation.’
Whenever I came across these justifications, the widely-used expression "boys will be boys" always comes to mind. It’s the defence meant to justify a male's behaviour because that’s just how they are.
That little boy pulled a girl's pigtails? Boys will be boys. That boy was mean to you? That's how boys show they like you. The locker room talk called a girl fat? Boys will be boys. Men see women as objects? Boys will be boys.
I’ve also seen a lot of the discussion around the Leipsic situation focusing on the fact that it was a clearly private conversation, their privacy was breached, and that’s bad. I offer you the argument that was given when a number of female celebrities had their naked photos taken and released to the public at large; they wouldn’t have been released if you didn’t take them in the first place.
Leipsic and the others included in the conversation wouldn’t have had the chance of having it released if they hadn’t made the comments and are facing the repercussions that they are now.
A breach of privacy isn’t the take away from this story.
The takeaway is these men, among many others, feel entitled to women and that it's acceptable for them to pick apart a women's body. If we’re fat or deemed unattractive, we are somehow less worthy.
We've gotten into the habit of justifying men’s actions because ‘boys will be boys.’ This is a dangerous lesson to teach young boys and it needs to stop. The more we sweep negative behaviours under the rug, the more likely cases of domestic violence won’t stop.
Stop letting "boys be boys", and hold them accountable for their actions.