De-constructing Discourse: The F***boy Rhetoric

A week after completing my English Language and Applied Linguistics degree, I figure the obvious way to celebrate my freedom would be to write about discourse some more. Stick to what you know, right?

Dating disasters are nothing new, although if you’ve read my thoughts on dating apps you’ll know I’m in two minds about whether they’re a help or a hindrance. Along with swiping and super-liking, a less concrete notion pervades the discourse of dating today.

Emerging from the tired, old rhetoric of traditional gender-based dating talk “boys will be boys” is the somewhat modern notion of the ‘fuckboy’. A fuckboy is an enigma difficult to articulate with a short, polite definition. If you’re unfamiliar with the term, ask any millennials you can get your hands on to elaborate.

Pinpointing exactly what it means to be a fuckboy proves to be dependent upon the situation at hand. It can be understood that fuckboy is versatile, umbrella term for anyone who behaves like dating is a game where they are player one. In conversations about the fuckboy phenomenon, I’ve heard it said that it’s unfair there is no equivalent ‘fuckgirl’- apparently you don’t hear people saying things like she’ll ‘mug you off’ or ‘fuck you over’.

Another central component to the makeup of the hypothetical fuckboy is how often they sleep around & with how many people. I would argue, then, that the fuckboy is a very belated equivalent to a myriad of terms used mostly to put women down based on their sex life or personal choices. Slut; skank; hoe; whore; prozzie; tramp; sket; slag. It’s not to suggest these words can’t be/aren’t used (or adapted) to describe men (manwhore) – but they’ve usually been employed as linguistic devices to demonise female promiscuity or ‘easiness’ and undermine the choices of generations of women, while guys have gotten the kudos of being studs, jocks and lads in conquering a podium of masculinity.

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Diving deeper into the pool of fuckboys, is the even more recent notion of the nice-guy-fuckboy. The sensitive soul who you’d least expect to be manipulative or hurtful. Articles about the various fuckboy characters circle sites like the tab, and constantly crop up on my Facebook news feed. Where the typical fuckboy would be the sporty, jack-the-lad, perpetually single guy who ‘doesn’t believe in labels’ and only texts you back every few days at 2am to see if you’re free – the nice-guy-fuckboy lives down the road, texts you first, pays you compliments, cares about you and talks about politics before you find out he has a conveniently unmentioned girlfriend. Fuuuuck, boy.

The fuckboy seems to be the first term which doesn’t award ‘lad points’ for being deceitful or hurtful in ‘romantic’ interactions – nor excuses bad behaviour as some unavoidable gendered trait. It’s worth questioning, then, if the fuckboy rhetoric is fair or not. In my opinion it’s out of line to cast judgement on anyone, regardless of their gender, for their personal choices. However I can’t claim that it isn’t nice to hear people call an arsehole, an arsehole. Or a fuckboy.

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