arrogant and horrible teenage boys

I tutor high school students at a little tutoring-school near my home and yesterday I got an insight into some disturbing realities of teenage boys. I was waiting to go into my classroom to teach my individual grade 11 student (who is actually a lovely teenage boy) and was sitting outside another classroom in which 2 or 3 boys and one girl were seated, supposedly studying but mostly talking. I couldn’t see them but I could hear them. The boys were talking about pornography and how one of them could access it on his phone (I didn’t know you could do that - scary stuff). The girl was silent but I knew she was there because I had heard her talking about something else previously. She was trying to tell a story about how she saw some boys lift a really small car up onto an elevated garden. I could tell she was attempting to join in the boisterous conversation but the boys were trying to knock her down: ‘How could they lift a car? That’s impossible’ Girl says: ‘It was a small car. Anyway yeah..so they would lift…’. Boy interrupts in a ‘I know about cars – I’m male’ authoritative voice: ‘cars weigh 400kgs. That’s impossible’. Girl hesitates: ‘it was one of those really small cars. A group of big guys can lift a car’. She finishes her story and then asks, ‘have you guys seen Transformers 2?’ One of the boy responds, ‘aw, Megan Gale, she’s hot! aw….’ Girl says impatiently, ‘have you seen it?’ Anyway, somehow the discussion reverts to pornography and I didn’t catch most of it. I did hear, however, the girl pipe up in a revolted voice, with, ‘why do you watch porn?’ One of the boy responds, ‘because he’s a 14yr old male. I’m 15 so I’m wiser now’. (I think this implied he doesn’t watch it anymore?? One can hope). Anyway, I thought, ‘fucking hell, is this what girls have to deal with at school??’ How depressing. THEN, at 5pm they all stood up and the boys wandered out of the room, books in hand and the girl stood up and went to the front of the classroom as a new student, a little boy, entered. The ‘girl’ was the teacher. I was absolutely dumbstruck. I had pictured a 14 yr old girl, but here was a young woman in her early 20s.  This young woman had been trying to engage in ‘cool’ conversation with 14 yr old boys?! And the teenage boys showed absolutely no respect for their teacher – in contrast they talked about pornography in front of her which, hey, when you’re an adult is sexual harrassment but when you’re 14 it’s ok? I felt pretty bad for the teacher because I thought, what would I have done if I had been in the same situation when I was her age? If young boys talked about porn in front of me back then I wouldn’t have known what to do. I would have thought ‘ew, gross’ but that’s probably about it. I tried to think about what I would do if any of my students did that now. I think I would have told them to shut up and then I would have talked to their parents (and probably get told to ‘chill out’).

Apart from the total lack of respect the boys showed their teacher, what struck me was the teacher’s attempt to engage with them by being cool and telling them stories and talking about movies. Would she have done this with girl students? How would 14 yr old girl students the same age have treated her? The boys were hostile and did not let her enter their territory – they made her try really hard, and this kind of made her sound desperate – as thought she wanted recognition in their eyes. I seriously thought she was a young teenage girl from their school trying to be ‘one of the boys’.

4 responses to “arrogant and horrible teenage boys

  1. You know what I think (and this is just an opinion), I think all authority (and authority is not always a bad concept) has been conditioned out of young women. I hate to say “in my day,” but, when I was say 20-21 or however old one would be in such a position I would not have been talking to 14 year old boys because I would have understood that I was the teacher and they were the students. Now I am sure if I was worried about not appearing cool I would have went out of my way not to dress like a frump, or, talk about frumpy type topics, but (a big but) to go in the other direction and engage them on their level would have discredit my authority. And that is what I think is happening in all-inclusive ideology. However, that all-inclusive ideology still elevates her over female students. Meaning the patriarchy is able to seep in all-inclusive ideology and maintain its superior position. Whenever it is all-inclusive the power that is already in power will retain its elevated position. For example, if she had been talking to 14 year old girls, do you think there would ever been a doubt who was the teacher and who were the 14 year old students? So, I guess I am saying all-inclusive does not mean all is equal.

    • womanvsfeminist

      I think I know what you mean about ‘all inclusive’ ideology. Is that the idea that seems quite dominant now about breaking down barriers between kids and adults and, more specifically, treating teenagers as though they were adults? I see it all the time and it makes me uneasy. Kids are kids and they can’t be treated like adults because their brains haven’t developed, and quite often they have to be told what is right and wrong – not saying that plenty of adults don’t need that as well. But for me personally, a child’s (or teenager’s) views are NOT as important as mine because hey, I’m smarter than they are! We are not ‘equal’ in that sense. I agree that attempting to engage with a child on their level just discredits your authority. I think kids actually need authority in teachers at least. Another question to ponder is, if the tutor had been male, how would the boy student have treated the him? I have a feeling her would have treated him with much more respect, almost looked up to him…but that’s just a feeling.

  2. Claire Haywood

    Im a teenage girl, and I just read this. I think that yes, boys our age are like that quite a lot, but If they were talking to me like that, I would have told them where to stick it. But sometimes you just have to deal with it. “Boys will be boys” as they say.But also, I think that they only do it, and say those things to conform, I know boys who are complete idiots around their friends, but on their own, they become completely differant people. Its just how you know them. Also, I really dont think that ” adults opinions are more important” as teenagers, we aren’t children anymore, we do understand, and we certainly are not stupid (some of us) we deserve a point of view. Think of how irritating it is to be patronised by anyone? Its ten times worse as a teenager. I think that if you talk to people like they are children, they become one. if you talk to them, and treat them like a respectable adult, or an equal, they will try and uphold that opinion, that light that you see them in. Don’t use the whole ” seen but not heard” view. that never works.

  3. I’m just randomly commenting on this because although I’m shocked by the article and agree that it was unacceptable to talk about subjects such as that in front of a teacher, I really do not agree with the last comment- yes, children can have terrible views, and some children should not be treated like adults, but there are exceptions to this rule. I find that statement generalizing as I know several people in my school who can argue points extremely well, and their views, although not always perfect, are generally quite good. “Engaging with a child on their level,” if you are trying to talk to them and be “cool,” it will usually just make them uncomfortable. What people appreciate is when adults talk to them like adults, IF they are acting as such and wish not to be patronized.
    Did I mention I’m only just into my teens?

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