Music Notes

Singer Stella Donnelly's Emotional Video Challenges A Common Response To Sexual Assault

"They say, 'Boys will be boys.'"

Australian singer-songwriter Stella Donnelly tackles the issue of victim blaming in her song "Boys Will Be Boys." Her new music video for the track, which appears on her recent album Thrush Metal, comes at an important time, as the conversation around sexual assault has grown louder in the midst of accusations against several high-profile men.


The song's title refers to a problematic response to assault or harassment perpetrated by men. In the video's YouTube description, Donnelly explains that the song was her "attempt at making sense of society's tendency to blame the victims of sexual assault and rape and make excuses for the perpetrators," adding that it was also a "way of dealing with certain events that were occurring in my life at the time."

"They say, 'Boys will be boys' / Deaf to the word 'no,'" Donnelly sings on the slow, acoustic-backed track, while invoking victim-blaming questions such as, "Why was she all alone / Wearing her shirt that low?"

The emotional music video, directed by George Foster, depicts various women in their daily lives, often staring into the camera. "The video itself was intended to express the burden of victim blaming and sexual assault on the victims themselves as the mundane aspects of life go on."

Sadly, we've seen and heard many of these same excuses and double standards on display in the wake of recent allegations — but fortunately, many people are also speaking out against this harmful way of thinking, which frequently lets men off the hook while putting a burden on their victims. Gabrielle Union, for example, shared her own story to challenge the notion that women's clothes have an impact on their safety. Meanwhile, many men on social media have reacted to the #MeToo campaign by sharing #HowIWillChange in order to fight sexism.

"Do we value men's contributions to society so much that their actions can be overlooked?" Donnelly wondered to NPR, alluding to various men who have been accused of assault or harassment: "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."

Watch the video for "Boys Will Be Boys" below:

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