In 'Boys Will Be Boys' Video, Stella Donnelly Confronts Victim-Blaming

Nov 2, 2017
Originally published on November 6, 2017 10:54 pm

Stella Donnelly, an Australian songwriter with a knack for bittersweet, personal punchlines, is tired of conversations around sexual assault that let perpetrators off the hook. "They say, 'Boys will be boys,'" she sings with seething rage over gentle guitar in a song that takes that tired excuse as its title. With "Boys Will Be Boys," Donnelly takes aim at harmful rhetoric while adding to the growing canon of songs that confront sexual assault.

In an email to NPR Music, Donnelly says the song is her "attempt at making sense of society's tendency to blame the victims of sexual assault and rape and make excuses for the perpetrators." She says the song's video, centered on short video portraits of women, is meant to express "the burden of victim-blaming on the victims themselves as the mundane aspects of life go on. We just drove around all day and filmed each person in their home, in their 'safe' spaces."

Donnelly asks why we blame victims in order to protect perpetrators: "Do we value men's contributions to society so much that their actions can be overlooked? The champion college swimmer, the highly respected musician, the influential film director, the struggling father, the boy that no girls wanted to kiss, the president. A song is just a song, but at the very least I hope it will open up difficult yet important conversations between family members, friends, government bodies, organizations and, most importantly, boys and men."

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