A College Reality: Fuckboy Culture and Female Objectification
By Elizabeth Patino
“Boys will be boys” is NOT a valid excuse. Ever.
[dropcap background="no" color="#333333"]L[/dropcap]ike many other women, I attend an elite college that reports high numbers of sexual assault and rape, and I can assuredly say that campus sexual violence is a scary reality. Frankly, it is difficult to avoid the ruthlessness of fuckboys, who embody hegemonic masculinity. In the classrooms, I am constantly subjected to being manterrupted and mansplained. At parties, I am incessantly objectified because of my appearance. This is the world we live in—a world established by the patriarchy, one in which men feel entitled to exploit and control women in any way possible. And this is a main component of the fuckboy agenda and culture. Naturally, I took it upon myself to deeply explore this phenomenon as part of my final project for my Global Feminism class.
Part of my project entailed conducting an interview with a revolutionary feminist. Considering my strong opinions on the patriarchy, I made the conscious decision to interview a dear friend of mine, Asia McGrath-Gerosa, a female student at CUNY-Hunter in New York City. She is the Production Manager at WHCS and the Executive Producer/Host of “Perceived Identity; Fuckboys.”
During my conversation with Asia, I explored the politics of the female body in relation to the patriarchy, body image, and female objectification. These feminist struggles are highly contested in this male-dominated world and they must no longer be brushed aside. With that said, I truly hope that this narrative will raise attention to a toxic issue on college campuses and other vulnerable spaces, so that we can begin a dialogue focused on changing a culture that has been detrimental to women’s safety and bodily agency.
(This is a transcript of a taped oral interview that I conducted. Note that the interview has been condensed and edited for clarity.)[divider type="dashed" spacing="10"]
Elizabeth: So, tell me about your article and podcasts on fuckboys.
Asia: This guy, a fuckboy (and product of the patriarchy), seemed to be a manifestation of all the things we view as wrong regarding how men navigate casual sex and their emotions within our society. I see fuckboys as a societal phenomenon, a mixture of toxic masculinity and the misinformed view that people are incapable of forming relationships, or simply view women as objects, just another tally on their scoreboard.
Essentially, I wanted to put a spotlight on a repetition of behavioral characteristics that I encountered not only with the guys that I met and were pursued by, or chose to pursue in a romantic and/or sexual way. I wanted to examine why other people think that fuckboys act the way that they do, what the word means to them, and see if there was any overlap with some of the hypotheses that I wrote about in the original article.
Another important aspect to me, was having another person, specifically girls, share the pain that they had experienced because of fuckboys. I believe that fuckboys do not believe that their actions have an emotional consequence on another person because that would mean acknowledging that they are not the only person in the universe with issues. It is meant to remind people that the way that you treat someone is not just a reflection of how are you as a person, but how societal expectations and conditioning has made you that way.
Elizabeth: How would you define a fuckboy?
Asia: It is someone who uses you for sex, frankly. A main component of it is that the other person does not let you feel entitled to your emotions, and that there is a denial of any emotions on both your parts in the first place.
“Fuckboy” is also unique in that it is probably the most accurate term in the lexicon to describe what a player is. Everyone wants to be called a player, or a guy who sleeps with a lot of girls, but no one wants to be called a fuckboy.
We have many gendered words to describe women who have sex: tramp, slut, whore, trollop, and etcetera. The issue that the word ‘fuckboy’ resolves is that there is a finally a word that has a negative connotation of male behavior, instead of female behavior, that is popularly used. But, you do not get to decide that you are a fuckboy; only another person deem you the term.
Elizabeth: In your opinion, how does society perceive the female body image?
Asia: Well, the female body is something that is made solely for the pleasure of men, and so being such means being constantly subjected to scrutiny by men. Women are told that they are too fat if they eat too much, but when they lose the weight they are then too thin, and that men liked them more when they were “x” or “y.”
Elizabeth: That being said, do you think the patriarchy and capitalism control women’s image?
Asia: Yes, because goods are marketed to women in order to make them more appealing to men. Even make up—there is a plethora of articles about which makeup trends guys like and which ones they don’t like, and which clothes they do like, as if that should somehow be relevant to what you wear in the morning. It seems to be that everything at the end of the day about your appearance is about making you more attractive to a man. It’s gross. Why are we taught that our biggest concern should be attracting a man? It should be more about the fact that you feel good in what you wear.
Elizabeth: So, would you agree that interactions with fuckboys manifest the objectification of females?
Asia: Definitely. What really hones in on the fuckboy culture—outside of the lack of emotional availability—is that they will ask you for nudes, as if it is no issue. It’s very degrading to be asked, ‘Send me a picture of your tits,’ and not, ‘I want talk to you and explore what’s going on in your brain.’ No—‘Send me a picture of your tits. That’s all I want from you.’ And that’s what it is!
The denial of a woman’s feelings and turning her into just an object and another tally mark... that is the objectification of women right there. Fuckboys treat women as objects, not as people with emotions and opinions.
This one guy told me that he categorizes people into three categories: friends, friends who you want to have sex with, and romantic interest. If that’s not the objectification of someone, then I don’t know what is. As soon as you make a categorization about a person—it doesn’t just have to be about their physical appearance—you’re still objectifying them. You’re forcing them into a box, and you’re completely taking women’s agency out of the whole interaction. And that interaction is your objectification of them. On a side note, it bothers me especially when you say you’re a feminist! You can’t categorize people and then say you’re a feminist.
Elizabeth: So, how do these interactions with fuckboys force women to see themselves differently?
Asia: In my experience, it has made me feel as though I will never be anything more than a pretty girl. Guys will want to have sex with me, but will never want to date me, as if that is somehow an indication of my personal worth. And, for me personally, it did become this really toxic inner monologue: ‘I’m only good enough to have sex with.’ Frankly, it hurts because you don’t feel like a person; you feel like a shell of a person, another pretty face.
No one deserves to be treated that way and it’s not an indication of you when someone treats you that way. It’s more a reflection of other person, the fuckboy, and how he is actively choosing to treat you.
Elizabeth: How do you think those perceptions differ for women of color?
Asia: I personally can’t speak about women of color because I am not a woman of color, though I could make a statement about it based on what my roommate has told me about, or what I have observed.
Once, a man was telling me about this one black woman that he slept with. He emphasized that she was black, as if that would prove that he, as a white man, is somehow a more cultured person who is open to black women. In another instance, I was talking to a man who told me he liked Asian women for their eyes. In response to his racist comment, I asked, ‘What about their personality?’ to which point he said, ‘Yeah, of course, they’re docile, very much about pleasing the man.’ Based on these experiences, fuckboy culture clearly plays into the racist stereotypes of a woman of color being exotic. But as a white woman, I have never been viewed as some exotic thing because I am viewed as the norm. I have never been toted around as if I am cultural. No one goes around with me saying ‘I’m with a white woman, so now I am a more open-minded individual. And it’s so important that she is white, and I totally support all her issues.’ But it seems that this is how Black women are treated, and Hispanic women, and Asian women.
Elizabeth: So considering this talk we’ve had, what do you think must be done to assert female agency on their minds and bodies?
Asia: There is a need to open up a national dialogue, specifically between men and women about what a woman’s experience is. As a society, we need to encourage girls to speak more and speak what’s on their mind, and for a few minutes tell men to stop talking and to just listen. Because girls are typically encouraged to listen, but men never are. Men are encouraged to speak. And we need to switch that.