Twenty-first-century masculinity is ever in the throes of some melodramatic paroxysm. Case in point: It has now come to our attention that some dudes are seriously, grievously offended by the term “fuckboy.”
To be a fuckboy (or fuckboi, or fuccboi, etc.) is to value fucking above all, especially personal connection or commitment, such that you reliably disappoint any lover by ignoring them except under the horniest of conditions, with the bulk of your energy spent on the project of fucking many other, different people. Once a sexual relationship is attained, the fuckboy will put the bare minimum into sustaining that avenue of pleasure while cultivating the next, hoping in all for a casual harem to cycle through as he likes.
“Fuckboy” is a useful term in that it describes a common type at large in Tinderized hookup culture. It abolishes the fuckboy’s vagaries — he’s “busy,” or “going through a lot right now,” or “not ready for anything serious” — as a smokescreen for his habit of thinking entirely with his dick. It nails him to the wall when he’s used to squirming free. He resents having his behavior summarized so bluntly, of course…
…but when it comes to women…
The double standard is almost as glaring as the word “Supreme” on a fuckboy’s sweatshirt. While sexually active women are deemed unloyal “sluts” and “whores” on the premise that they ought to reserve their bodies for him, men are supposed to sleep around. They’re hard-wired this way! It’s basic biology! To undermine this reductive notion is to attack him for his very maleness, and that is, you know, completely unfair.
It’s no shock that a fuckboy, confronted on his blatant fuckboyhood, would play the victim while impugning the woman (or women, plural) who called him out. He always seeks to shift the fault in a toxic dynamic back to her (or them).
Note in these defenses how the man bears no responsibility for his negligence or callousness; if a woman fucks a fuckboy, she has brought the misery on herself. He doesn’t deny that he’s basically trash — it’s the classic “I’m a piece of shit” defense — but blames those he torments for not recognizing his shitty nature and knowing better. It’s the tale of the scorpion and the frog. When the fuckboy initiates his quasi-romantic routine, he has every expectation that the pairing will later run aground on his fundamental indifference, and so he cannot fathom why the woman would not see this, too. Pining after a fuckboy is her punishment for continued optimism — for believing he could be anything else.
But only he is allowed to acknowledge his flaws. Start naming them, and he’s gone. Though, to be sure, he’ll unblock you in a couple months and ask for nudes again.
For all that fuckboys moan about the label — when they aren’t trying to claim it as a badge of honor — there are some who argue it isn’t nearly offensive enough. In contrast to misogynist, racist or homophobic slurs, it stands apart as a measure of character, not a received stereotype. The word “fuckboy” was a necessary invention in a society that gave rise to the fuckboy’s games, not a way to further demean and dehumanize an already marginalized group. In fact, a fuckboy is apt to resent his title insofar as it acknowledges the privilege behind his predation. While a woman, to his mind, reverts from a “slut” to a “prude” or a “stuck-up bitch” the instant she declines his advances, he is caught in no such bind. Were he to quit being a fuckboy, he’d simply be a man.
Do I sound unsympathetic to these dudes? Good. If he has the self-awareness to decide his feelings are hurt by a “fuckboy” accusation but cannot understand that his dating style leaves a trail of emotional wreckage in its wake, the shoe most assuredly fits.
Take it from me, a recovering fuckboy.
When you set out to juggle a maximum number of partners, you start to forget their range of desire and revel in your selfishness. You think that occasional sex and the random smutty text will keep them not only satisfied but in a state of crushing adoration. Then you get annoyed when they find the arrangement shallow and stupid. Why is she so needy, man? At that point, you’re ready to meet a new paramour — someone “chill,” someone who asks for less.
But this ignores that you’re the problem. You’re the common denominator in the string of fizzled friendships-with-benefits you never allowed to be something more. The fuckboy imagines he has to stay on the move or die, and at the bottom of his heart, there is fear: He’s afraid of standing still, of staying the night or speaking an affection deeper than a row of tongue emojis. Why? Perhaps he supposes that by giving up the fuckboy life, he gives up control to the woman he’s with.
The thing is, though, you fall in love together. Nobody is meant to have the upper hand. Until he grasps this, he’ll want to hang back, aloof and cryptic, performatively outraged by anybody who tells him — by way of this cutting shorthand slang — that he’s obviously just scared to dive in.
Feel free to prove us wrong, fuckboy.