Gonzaga University has stopped selling a child-size T-shirt featuring the slogan “Boys will be boys” after a student complained on Twitter that the shirt “perpetuates rape culture.”
“@GonzagaU Hold your students and future Zags accountable for their actions,” the woman, identified only as Nicole, tweeted Wednesday afternoon, along with a photo of the shirt hanging in the campus Zag Shop.
The university responded through its official Twitter account just 42 minutes later: “thank you for reaching out. This merchandise has been removed.”
Gonzaga spokeswoman Mary Joan Hahn explained the move in an email.
“We are aware that seemingly simple statements can sometimes be interpreted to insinuate unintended meanings, and when sensitivities are expressed, we take concerns seriously,” Hahn wrote. “We want GU apparel to reflect our respect for everyone.”
Ann Ciasullo, director of the women’s and gender studies program at Gonzaga, applauded the decision to pull the shirt from the racks.
“I think the problem with the phrase is that historically it’s been used to justify bad behavior by boys – not just boys but also men – and some of that can be particularly bad behavior including rape,” Ciasullo said.
“Boys will be boys” also implies that men “can’t control their own actions” and “never really become adults,” she said. “In that way, it’s pretty offensive to men, too.”
Twitter users who saw the student’s complaint offered mixed responses.
One woman wrote, “yeah get this toxic masculinity out of here we have enough on campus already.”
A male student retorted, “as someone who is proud to be a boy … Where can I buy this shirt?”