Elevate Difference

Boys Lie: How Not to Get Played

I was of two minds while reading Boys Lie: on one hand, I appreciated that Belisa Vranich and Holly Eagleson have taken the time to research and write a “cheat sheet” giving young girls a “BS detector” and helping them separate the good apples from the bad ones. On the other hand, the title of the book might lead one to believe that the authors think all boys lie in order to have their way with girls. In their defense, the authors stress that their book is “not a manifesto against guys,” but rather a way to help smart girls deal with the “messy truths about guys and relationships.”

While I recognize that teenagers are exposed to an overwhelming amount of (mis)information from their peers, the Internet, and other sources, I wonder if the negative connotation of the title could have been neutralized in some way. Boys Lie is divided into seventeen chapters entitled Lie #X. The authors cover everything from contraceptives and how to protect yourself against STI's to love and sex in the digital age to the physical and emotional abuse that, sadly, goes on in teen relationships. The authors take statements (lies) that young men regularly tell young women to get them to engage in activities they might not otherwise be willing to engage in as the jumping off point for the topics discussed in each chapter.

For example, Lie #4 is “you can hook up with a friend without having feelings involved.” The authors include a list of different ways a boy might say a particular lie. In this case, he might say, “You can have sex like a man” or “Hook ups with friends don’t count.” The authors discuss what happens to the female brain when a girl is on a “booty call.” When women get physically close to a guy, the authors explain, they experience a rush of happy hormones and neurotransmitters that make them want to increase the frequency of the hookups. Since men don’t have the same physical and emotional reactions to a casual hookup, this creates a situation that often leads to the woman getting hurt and the friendship ending.

Lie #16 is “you need someone to keep you in line.” This chapter is about physical and emotional abuse, and is disturbing in its exploration of the destructive patterns that surface in teen relationships. The authors point out that one out of three teens has reported being the victim of physical or emotional abuse by a romantic partner, and one in five girls has either been involved in a violent relationship or threatened with violence by a partner. According to a recent study, violence against girls on television has increased by 400 percent over the past five years, and digital abuse (e.g., monitoring a partner's online behavior, constantly texting someone to keep tabs on them, and pressuring someone to engage in digital sex) is also on the rise.

Boys Lie includes statements girls can use to counter boys' lies. If you’re a teenager or a parent, this book is a must read. In an ideal world, Boys Lie wouldn’t be necessary, but we have to live in the real world.

Written by: Gita Tewari, July 6th 2010

Thanks Lisa :)

Great review. As a parent of pre-teen girls this is one I think I need to read. Thank you so much for all the time you put into reading and writing about Boys Lie. We really appreciate you being on the tour!

I'm appalled the only hesitation you note is in the title. Have you forgotten you are writing for a feminist blog?? Young women should not be boxed in as helpless, emotional creatures, who clearly are in need of a manual to help them navigate the complexities of the young male mind. To be fair I have not read the book, but based upon your own description here it seems extremely offensive to young women.

Dear Anonymous:

Having read the book, I choose to view this book as a means of empowering young women and girls to make intellgent choices by providing relevant and contextual information about male/female relationships. I don't mean to come across as flippant, but just as providing a car manual to a driver of a new car is not offensive to a driver, providing a book (manual) that helps readers decode and navigate the complexities of the teenage experience is similarly not intended to be offensive or demeaning to its target audience.