The legend of the fuckboy has already morphed through multiple meme cycles in its brief tenure as an integral theme of millennial romance. And yet, it describes a still somewhat mythical figure. It is a noun as much as it is an idea, a lifestyle as much as it’s a satire of that lifestyle. 

Most men balk at being called one, and I would bargain that most women would describe many men whom they’ve dated as fuckboys to some varying degree. (Also, not to say that fuckboys don’t exist in the queer community as well, but for today’s purposes we’re examining its heterosexual variant). It’s a term that frustrates both genders, for very opposing reasons, and yet pervades the internet’s lexicon of love regardless. So let’s try to un-cloud the murky waters of fuckboydom. 

The most universal understanding of a heterosexual fuckboy is that it’s a dude who just wants sex from women, and is generally tactless in going about it (the opposite of an incel, but with a similar attitude towards women). The cognitive dissonance on whether that’s a bad thing stems apparently from the fact that casual sex and one night stands—and the men and women who seek it out—isn’t a new concept. This seems to be what perplexes most men when having a fuckboy mirror held up to their pussy-thirsty faces. What’s so wrong with sleeping around, and why does it need a negative nickname attached to it, that’s also one-sided in its discrimination?

The irony is lost in translation that women have been dealing with the exact same kind of slur for centuries. Women who have sought out sex for pleasure without necessarily seeking commitment or monogamy have always had misogynistic slurs leveled at them. Harlot, slut, whore, cum dumpster, town bicycle, promiscuous…the list is long and creative. And yet men who sleep around have historically been lauded for their virility and conquests with titles like casanova, lady killer, lady’s man, stud, etc.

Men taking issue with being called fuckboys is just them not being able to handle a sociological reaction to their sexuality, the same reaction women have had to deal with so long it’s become an internalized part of our collective identities. 

Outside of general semantics though, I think there’s a deeper level to the fuckboy debate. Being that a fuckboy differs from a slut, in that the true intentions of the fuckboy are shrouded if not misrepresented all together. Fuckboys reel women in with what appears to be romance. They ask women on dates. They want to get to know women on an intimate emotional level. They want to be vulnerable, hold hands and kiss in public. And they definitely want to fuck. What they don’t want is a relationship, which after all of the intimacy, romance, and of course fucking, leaves women confused as to what the hell they just experienced. 

It’s not that women are uncomfortable necessarily with casual sex, it’s that they are accustomed to the hallmarks of it. Having a dude offer to buy you a drink at the bar at midnight, a 3am booty call, having a number cavalierly slipped to you—these aren’t tricks men are pulling on women to get laid. We know what’s up and are simply, for lack of a better term, DTF as well. Or sometimes we’re not looking for casual sex and turn men down, which tends to be the fuckboy queue, the siren song of sorts that signals them to lay on the charm, to bait and switch relationship courting with meaningless fun.

The whiney, knee-jerk defense that I’ve heard from men is the “good guy” defense, as I’d like to call it. The dreadful symptom of the woke bae—the new subcategory of men who think that because they would never date rape, because they stand up for the women in their lives, and are pro-choice, and have proffered some mansplainy feminist rants before, that they can do no wrong.

These are the men that say that they shouldn’t be penalized because they want to get to know the women they’re sleeping with, that caring about a woman—even if you only want sex from her—actually makes them a good guy! Which is where I call bullshit. Because if you really cared about the woman you were fuckboy trapping, you’d realize that you’re only getting to know her to get her to let her guard down long enough for you to get it in. 

I had a male friend recently get upset about being called a fuckboy by multiple women, who turned it around to beg the question, “Don’t people date anymore?” And yes, I see that point. But dating historically is a form of courting, it’s getting to know someone to see if you’re compatible—not to establish a fleeting sexual relationship that typically ends with the woman being made to feel crazy for getting attached after being misled. 

There’s also a more sinster side to fuckboy-ing. Women have historically performed a majority of the heavy lifting when it comes to emotional labor in an array of capacities, be it sociologically, politically, domestically or romantically. And I will venture to say that the worst breed of fuckboy is the one who is wanting to have the emotional orgasm of an intimate romantic relationship, along with the physical orgasm, but without having to make any real commitment. And that’s why you’re pissing women the fuck off.

It doesn’t appear that the fuckboy is going to slink into obscurity any time soon. But it does seem as though the term has morphed more into a meme, or joking reclamation of power by women, than it is a real philosophical idea anymore. If women can reclaim slut, men can reclaim fuckboy. Or at least attempt to have a more complex understanding of the fact that it exists, than deny that a reaction to their behavior with new terminology is valid. 

And I’ll also be sure to say as well that women can be fuckboys too, it’s just far less common, and I would venture is a more momentary phase a woman might go through, rather than habitual way of being. But perhaps the ultimate fuckbae—a fuckboy who communicates his intentions, can convey the desire for sex without being totally gross and creepy, who understands emotional boundaries—is just too tall an order, and until it isn’t, we’re gonna have to settle for fuckboys, and learn to be them in return.