But they sure got to pretend they didn’t. “Boys will be boys” is a nostrum with the designated purpose of chalking male malfeasance up to innocent high spirits. It’s a saying that meant to exonerate, but here’s the funny thing: It only works on the agreed-upon assumption that boys do shitty things, the gravity of which we’re supposed to ignore or dismiss. The message isn’t that the boys don’t know that the things they do are bad; it’s rather that the rest of us should forgive, understand, and love them anyway, without their needing to ask for it…

We knew this moment would arrive when the #MeToo movement began. It was clear that men and women were universally comfortable with the movement as long as its targets were unregenerate monsters like Harvey Weinstein, and it was just as clear that the tides would shift once attention expanded to the scope of what women routinely put up with. Eventually, as I wrote then, there would be an attempt to “naturalize sexual harassment. If there are this many men doing these things, then surely this is just how men are!”

But I never imagined it would get this explicit. I never thought I would see a group that has spent years laughing at the very idea of anything like “rape culture” suddenly not just admitting that it exists but arguing that it should—nothing should be done about it; male malfeasance is an unstoppable cocktail of culture and biology. The subtext—stripped of all chivalric pretense thanks to the recent panic—is that victims don’t matter. They’re invisible because they’re unimportant, and women’s pain is irrelevant.