'Boys Will Be Boys'

March 15, 2021 by Stella Donnelly

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Stella Donnelly on sexual assault, gender roles, and victim blaming.

I wrote "Boys Will Be Boys" three years ago, and I wrote it before conversations around "Me Too" and things were happening in the public realm. These things weren’t being talked about — especially in Australia.

I wrote it about something that happened to a really close friend of mine.

When this thing happened to her, I felt it was bad enough already that she had to go through this experience, and then when she opened up to the people around her about what had happened — this is the point where I wrote this song, it was about the fact that — even some of my girlfriends at the time, other women, were questioning her.

You know, "What were you wearing that night?" "Why did you get so drunk?" "Why did you talk to that guy in the first place?"

As a society, we need to stop questioning women. No one’s ever asking for it.

But, on the other side of that, I wrote this song because I’ve got a 16-year-old brother — and I know so many beautiful, amazing gentlemen in my life. I think the whole “boys will be boys mentality” negatively affects them as well, because it makes them feel like they’re not more than that generalization.

We need to start taking responsibility for ourselves and for our friends. We need to have these conversations so that we don’t continue to generalize people into these pigeonholes that then create the monsters that we see.

It’s a big honor that the song has become bigger than me. Now, it belongs to so many people and they can put their own experiences to that. It’s not mine anymore. There’s no ego or ownership. That’s the best part.

Trigger warning: sexual assault

Australian singer-songwriter Stella Donnelly was signed to Downtown in 2018. This letter first appeared in a print issue of the Downtown Journal — published by our parent company, Downtown Music Holdings, in 2020.