A Valentine’s Discussion: Dating in a F***boy World
Happy Valentine’s Day/Singles Awareness Day, Kultured fam! As previously stated, I hope that all of you have an amazing day full of positivity and love, whether you’re single or taken. In the spirit of the season of love, I want to tie the remaining loose ends of some of the discussions I’ve recently started about what it’s like to be single and dating in 2019.
As most of you have probably seen by now, I was featured in the latest episode of a podcast called Never Knows Best, discussing topics such as dating while Black in the information age. If you listened to the episode, or read last night’s blog post, then you have likely heard me reference a recent encounter with a f***boy from the Internet during my brief exploration of a couple dating apps. Of the two apps that I created profiles for, I seemed to yield the “best” results from Bumble, which requires women seeking male partners to make the first move in messaging their matches. I enjoy being pursued as much as the next woman, but I was interested to see what results I’d find in this particular space, and if things would turn out any different.
Thursday, February 7th, I matched with a nice-looking 27-year-old man, whom I’ll call Lewis. Lewis seemed handsome, his profile was pretty clean, and he appeared to be pretty put together in his pictures. I didn’t see any indications that he was a father or a drug dealer, so I went ahead and swiped right. We matched and I sent him a standard “Hi, how are you?” message. A few minutes went by as we indulged in some small talk peppered with a few compliments passed from him to me.
I recall Lewis asking what I was up to, sending my response, and reciprocating the question, to which he answered “Just sitting here naked.” And here we go, I thought.
Everybody knows that when a guy references his nudity in conversation it’s only a matter of minutes before he starts making unsolicited offers for the woman involved to join him or gratify his hormones in some other way. F***boys are so predictable.
I curved the naked comment and didn’t have high expectations from this point on, of course, but I continued to entertain the conversation mainly because I was bored and didn’t have anything better to do. I had time, plus, I figured I’d afford him the opportunity to at least explicitly put his foot in his mouth before cutting the conversation all the way off. I’m not going to lie, I live for a good drag sometimes. Of course, Lewis eventually obliged. He gave me his number, which I texted, and after a bit more small talk, the conversation went as follows (read screenshots from left to right):
First, addressing the elephant in the room, yes The Kultured Queen is a virgin at the ripe age of 24. While my middle and high school classmates were partaking in one-on-one sessions of Intro to Adolescent Anatomy, I was wrapped up in other things that held more of my interest. I was in no rush to deal with adding the extra emotional baggage that comes with having sex.
While I may not have experienced physically being with another person, I have always understood through watching others’ behavior that sex isn’t just an act of pleasure; it is an exchange of energy between two people, regardless of whether that energy is positive or negative.
Whether people choose to admit it or not, things change as soon as sex is incorporated into a relation/situationship. In dating, I prefer monogamy, exclusivity, and knowing that I’m valued as an individual aside from what I carry between my thighs. I don’t think it’s a crime to want someone to actually care about me before a sexual exchange occurs between us, and as childish as some may view it, I’d prefer for that first experience to be with someone who equally demonstrates and reciprocates love. Through college and into young adulthood, I’ve remained secure in this stance, and I’m in no rush to compromise for the sake of convincing somebody to accept, like, or validate me. If one can’t demonstrate genuine interest in me as a human being, then we have no business exploring anything else anyway, in my opinion.
People hit it and quit it every day, B. That’s cool, but that is not for me.
In my conversation with Lewis, I didn’t choose to be less forthcoming at first about my virginity out of embarrassment; clearly I am not at all ashamed of my choices. I didn’t go straight there because that conversation always goes one of two ways:
Either young men see this revelation as a challenge for them to convince me to compromise, almost as if they’ve become the appointed savior to show me the way to sexual freedom, or they do what Lewis did and choose to engage in a session of attempted shaming, emotional manipulation, or coercion. While I’m far too secure in myself and headstrong to be moved by their attempts, it’s disappointing to think of the number of women who do bend when faced with f***boy mind games.
What irritated me the most about my encounter with Lewis wasn’t even his instant switch, his emotionally charged ranting, or his blatant disrespect. Hell, I expected all of that.
What bothered me the most was the fact I did expect it.
Young women get pressured to compromise their choices all the time for the sake of satisfying some grown ass boy only interested in his own sexual gratification, while subsequently not giving half a damn about the women in question. It’s pathetic, and they should be embarrassed.
Let’s be real, Lewis’s behavior is nothing new. Men have acted like him in one capacity or another for as long as water has been wet.
Many of the father figures, uncles, older brothers, and cousins that we love and admire have been Lewises in their younger days, selfishly trying to advertise the D to women, whether they expressed interest or not, and reverting from compliments to insults when those women deny their advances. The only difference now is that men feel empowered to do it more explicitly because they can hide behind a screen.
Lewis is a posterchild for the f***boy behavior that has become far too common among young Black men aged 18 – 35, and my experience with him points to the need for us as a community to have a broader conversation about how we are raising Black boys.
What is a f***boy, and to what do we attribute the incessantly growing presence of f***boys in the dating world?
I contemplated these questions with “Never Knows Best” co-hosts Freddy and Moody during my guest appearance on their latest episode. The consensus was reached that f***boys are those who manipulate, coerce, and string women along just long enough to gain sexual gratification from them and then leave. A f***boy’s sole focus is satisfying his own sexual needs by any means necessary, regardless of who he may hurt, disrespect, mislead, or damage in the process. In heterosexual interactions, f***boys like Lewis entertain a connection with a woman just long enough to feel comfortable dropping unsolicited hints or photographic evidence that they’re seeking sexual satisfaction, their words laced with the unspoken implication that she is expected to comply with their indirect request. The ones smarter than Lewis are even more dangerous to women’s sexual and mental health, however, because they’ve often mastered the art of masking their attempts at mental manipulation. They make it sound so nice and convincing that some women don’t even realize they’re being played until it’s too late.
Through repeated personal and observational experiences, I’ve concluded that there is a lack of teaching young Black men boundaries and mutual respect for the women they pursue. The existence of f***boys persists for several reasons, especially in our community, but it is my opinion that a large portion of the blame deserves to be placed on taught toxic masculinity and the lack of parental interference between boys and mass media.
What is Toxic Masculinity?
Masculinity, of course, is a collection of characteristics that are socially associated with male gender expression. Society has historically dictated that there are certain characteristics uniquely and exclusively associated with manhood vs. womanhood, despite the fact that the male and female brains are not that different biologically. Masculinity becomes toxic when it becomes abusive to others; when it is leveraged for the objectification of others; or when others are treated as objects, rather than people, to the point of being used for power, sexual favors/gratification, or any other forms of personal gain by the toxically masculine person.
Therefore, the term “toxic masculinity” encompasses problematic masculine behaviors such as using sex and brutality as a measure of manhood, and prioritizing expressions of strength while viewing emotional expression as a sign of weakness.
As an undergraduate Digital and Mass Communications scholar, I understood very early the relationship between media, perception, and emulation through the lens of the Social Learning Theory, which states that humans learn behaviors and actions from the things that they observe. Applying the above definitions and theory to Black boys who consume popular channels of mass media – television, movies, music, music videos, and social media, for example – it is easy to connect the emulation of some Black men’s toxic masculine behaviors in real life to the images they have grown up seeing on screens.
What do we expect Black boys to learn from seeing their favorite male stars surrounded by women in tailored images that equate his sexual body count with his success? What do we expect them to gain from watching sex scenes in movies with limited to none of the adult intervention necessary to explain that the way sexual relationships are portrayed in Hollywood is not indicative of what normally happens in real life?
We laugh at witty fictional male characters who verbally assault women after being turned down for a date or anything else that scars their ego, subsequently fail to exert efforts in teaching our sons that this is not okay, and then we act surprised when they grow into men who approach women the same way that Lewis approached me. While there are plenty of issues on both sides of the gender spectrum that negatively impact Black Dating in 2019, it can be argued that toxic masculinity is among the most prevalent and disheartening.
Their actions indicate that young Black men have come to believe that their value rests in their ability to conquer women. They have been taught to associate their power and success with their ability to convince, coerce, or manipulate women into doing whatever they want to do. And worst of all, we have allowed them to subscribe to the idea that their power, success, value, and worth is somehow contingent upon, or enhanced by, the number of women they’ve had sex with. Far too many Black men have grown up with the subconscious idea that women are objects of pleasure to which they are entitled, and that a woman’s resistance to unwanted or unshared advances is a license to lash out at her emotionally or physically.
I know that Lewis’s behavior is not representative of all Black men. I know that many Black men are still amazing, loving, protective beings despite the foolish behavior of the f***boys in our midst. However, despite my fierce love for Black men, the fact remains that it is a disservice to themselves, Black women, and the Black children observing and absorbing everything we adults do, when disrespectful assholes like Lewis go unchecked and fail to acknowledge or unlearn their toxic behaviors.
As I stated in yesterday’s pre-Valentine’s Day post, though many institutions exist to taint and remove positive male role models from Black boys’ lives, is our responsibility as their remaining family members and friends to steer them in the right direction, especially if we’ve had the privilege of learning to behave outside the stereotypical caricatures placed upon us. We have a responsibility to ensure that the toxicity taught through society, mass media tropes, and images does not outweigh our active participation in teaching them to be men of quality and valor.
Lastly, there is also a hefty responsibility on men’s part in fighting to dismantle f***boy ways. Fellas, the quest to unteach toxic masculinity starts with your own self-evaluation. It is imperative that you hold yourselves and your peers accountable for any toxic behaviors you may display. Ask yourself:
Do you value women (or whomever aligns with your sexual preference)?
Do you feel entitled to a woman’s time, attention, or body, or that a woman is obligated to give you these things, because of your expressed interest?
Would you want your daughter, sister, mother, etc. to date someone who views, speaks to, and treats women the way that you do?
If not, are you willing to do the work necessary to change into the type of partner you would want them to be with?
Don’t be a f***boy. Eradicate f***boy tendencies.Call out f***boys on sight.
Happy Valentine’s Day. Stay Kultured.