"A fuckboy is a man who is lame, who sucks, who ain’t shit."
August 21, 2015 10:24 AM   Subscribe

 
loved this piece, thanks for posting. There definitely is a 2014/15 trend of well educated internet people delving into the nuanced details of hiphop slang, for the benefit of other well educated internet people -- and as this post explains, that in itself really tells you a lot.
posted by So You're Saying These Are Pants? at 10:43 AM on August 21, 2015 [1 favorite]


but i mean, this post is not about fuckbois
posted by So You're Saying These Are Pants? at 10:44 AM on August 21, 2015


Fuckboy Roy (not to be confused with Suckboy Roy), a San Francisco kink party regular who's used that name for, I dunno, two decades, might have a useful lesson to the person who wrote this: slang emerges in different groups under different meanings. There is no one true slang.
posted by late afternoon dreaming hotel at 10:45 AM on August 21, 2015 [29 favorites]


I'm conflicted here. The Tinder piece in Vanity Fair doesn't quite get it right, but that Huffington Post piece is closer. The whole problem is that young white feminists on tumblr and twitter ended up appropriating the term in their circles, and it definitely took on connotations around misogyny. I knew the word from Cam'ron, but over the past two years I've most heard it used in contexts like guys sending unsolicited dick pics to girls, or sexist Tinder messages.

So the meaning has forked. There's one meaning in black culture, and another new meaning popping up in a different circle. This particular piece is saying that only one meaning is valid. And maybe that's right. I wonder about prescriptivism though, even if we're talking about appropriation.

We really need to talk about young white people stealing black slang. It's rampant and we've gone through like a dozen such examples over the past few years alone. The funny thing is most of these white people use that slang in ironic contexts on social media, but most wouldn't use it in casual conversations IRL because they have the self-awareness to realize how lame it would sound. There's like a veil of borrowed coolness that comes from the text focus and anonymity of the internet.
posted by naju at 10:49 AM on August 21, 2015 [30 favorites]


Oh also to make things complicated (maybe), I seem to remember that some of the prominent feminists who introduced the term in this new context were actually knowledgeable hip-hop fans. One writes for Noisey on the subject. So... what then.
posted by naju at 10:57 AM on August 21, 2015 [1 favorite]


There's like a veil of borrowed coolness that comes from the text focus and anonymity of the internet.

great point.

But hasn't stealing black slang happened for more like, centuries?
posted by So You're Saying These Are Pants? at 11:02 AM on August 21, 2015 [7 favorites]


might have a useful lesson to the person who wrote this: slang emerges in different groups under different meanings.

the writer of this piece, kara brown, responds to the idea of slang emerging from different groups in the comments -

See, this is confusing to me because we said “fuckboy” in college—I’m an Old, suuuper White and went to a very White school. We used it as one would use “donor”, “slam piece” or “dial-a-dick”. A fuckboy was someone you would do it with but who enjoyed no other place in your life or perhaps even your social circle. I think “fuckboy” is older than this rapper’s use of it.
-Zelda Pinwheel


I don’t doubt that you were. But if you think that you and your white friends brought the term to prominence and that it was used commonly among white people then I don’t know what to tell you. The point is that all these pieces are acting like fuckboy is now a popular word because white people made it so and that’s just not true.
- Kara Brown
posted by nadawi at 11:04 AM on August 21, 2015 [7 favorites]


But hasn't stealing black slang happened for more like, centuries?

Sure, but it's really accelerated recently. There's like a white-people-stealing-black-slang singularity approaching.
posted by naju at 11:04 AM on August 21, 2015 [6 favorites]


This particular piece is saying that only one meaning is valid. And maybe that's right. I wonder about prescriptivism though, even if we're talking about appropriation.

i feel like kara brown is saying that if you're going to write pieces about what fuckboy means and you don't even give a passing glance to its origin, then what the fuck are you doing. i don't think it's prescriptivist to point out that in three different "what could it mean???" think pieces, none of them seemed to give a single moment to the actual history. like she says, it's similar to white authors suggestions that taylor swift popularized squad or the kardashians popularized braids. it's erasure, plain and simple.
posted by nadawi at 11:07 AM on August 21, 2015 [17 favorites]


The thing about white people stealing black slang is the Problem. But my feelings about this specific problem is that "fuckboy" is a great word with lots of usages, and to limit it to just one of them because Vanity Fair says that's the right one diminishes that.

There's lots of fuckboys that need describing!
posted by MCMikeNamara at 11:08 AM on August 21, 2015 [3 favorites]


Did Erasure even have braids?
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 11:10 AM on August 21, 2015 [9 favorites]


> But hasn't stealing black slang happened for more like, centuries?

Everybody stealing everybody else's slang has happened for as long as the human race has been using slang. I get why groups resent other people taking their in-group slang and making free with it, often changing the meaning in the process, but getting mad at it is like getting mad at the weather, utterly pointless. If somebody takes your money, you've lost something, but if somebody "takes" your words or usages, you haven't lost anything, and spending time trying to stop it is not only wasting time and effort, it's taking time and effort away from more productive struggles. Appropriating other people's words, and culture in general, is a basic part of being human (which starts when you appropriate your parent's words, continues with your classmates' and friends', and if you're lucky doesn't end until you die). And of course the best revenge is developing new slang so the appropriators look foolish and out-of-it.

> i feel like kara brown is saying that if you're going to write pieces about what fuckboy means and you don't even give a passing glance to its origin, then what the fuck are you doing. i don't think it's prescriptivist to point out that in three different "what could it mean???" think pieces, none of them seemed to give a single moment to the actual history.

This, on the other hand, is an excellent point.
posted by languagehat at 11:11 AM on August 21, 2015 [46 favorites]


Country, rock, hip-hop, fashion and slang. I wonder what next new thing will be stolen from black culture and subsequently ruined?

At least the twisting of "fuckboy" isn't nearly as bad as what happened to "ratchet"
posted by picklenickle at 11:12 AM on August 21, 2015 [1 favorite]


There's a valid point about erasure in the piece, but she goes too far in prescriptively arguing that the new meaning is incorrect. She writes: "You don’t get to change the meaning of words because all your white friends are using it incorrectly. This isn’t the evolution of language—it is an outright hijacking. And the fact that these people think they have any right to do so is white privilege of the highest order."

Through many thousands of people, a new connotation has emerged in certain circles. It's a hijacking, but language shifts in exactly these ways. That's why I'm conflicted. With language there is no "incorrect" if people adopt a meaning, even if the reasons are gross.
posted by naju at 11:12 AM on August 21, 2015 [9 favorites]


This is such a weirdly impassioned defense of a faddish bit of slang that is specific to a particular slice of Black people and that I would almost guarantee most have either never heard of or used. I clutch my pearls to think what the author will write when she finds out what White people have done to "motherfucker."
posted by Panjandrum at 11:16 AM on August 21, 2015 [1 favorite]


well if the pieces actually made the points your making - that the word started in one place and morphed to another, then i'd be with you. but that's not what they did. and the fact that it's specifically white people writing for publications that have little to no black people on their writing staffs, discussing what was originally black slang as if it's a new word that becky made up to discuss boys on tinder - well, that gets into a whole other thing, where white people are constantly doing this to black people, taking their shit, using it to make themselves look cool, and then rewriting the history. fros are cute for white girls who read cosmo, but can't be worn by black girls in school. redefining fuckboy and obscuring its history is just another example of the same old shit.
posted by nadawi at 11:18 AM on August 21, 2015 [7 favorites]


It may have emerged independently, but fuckboy has been used by the gay community since at least the 1970s.
posted by maxsparber at 11:18 AM on August 21, 2015 [14 favorites]


i would give my pinky finger if people stopped using "pearl clutching" to describe women they think are being too earnest.
posted by nadawi at 11:19 AM on August 21, 2015 [31 favorites]


i've read some fascinating discussion about how a lot of hip hop slag started in black gay communities, but i'm having a hard time bringing any of it up now...
posted by nadawi at 11:20 AM on August 21, 2015


I always assumed people knew it was used in the gay community, made it feel kind of gross to see it used as an insult against men. I am so very confused by all of this.
posted by Drinky Die at 11:21 AM on August 21, 2015 [6 favorites]


Yeah, I am curious about the development of this phrase. Because if it was borrowed from the gay community, and was later used as a way to insult men, it's potentially homophobic, and that complicates the story.
posted by maxsparber at 11:23 AM on August 21, 2015 [3 favorites]


From the huffpo quote:
On Urban Dictionary — the respected authority on such matters —
bwa ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha
posted by George_Spiggott at 11:25 AM on August 21, 2015 [7 favorites]


What I like is that this thread already has more information in it about the history of the word "fuckboy" than any of the three thinkpieces referred to in the article in the FPP, or the article itself.
posted by Elementary Penguin at 11:25 AM on August 21, 2015 [9 favorites]


I always assumed people knew it was used in the gay community, made it feel kind of gross to see it used as an insult against men.

Yeah, this might be the case. Cam'ron is no stranger to homophobia. Him and his crew were responsible for "no homo" blowing up.
posted by naju at 11:25 AM on August 21, 2015 [5 favorites]


but if it was used in the gay community (and probably the black gay community if other popular gay slang is any indication) as an insult to men and was then used by the black hip hop community to also insult men - maybe it's just internalized misandry!
posted by nadawi at 11:26 AM on August 21, 2015 [2 favorites]


Yeah, I've heard the word fuckboy used since nearly right after I came out in 1990. I'm not entirely sure that the writer of this article has actually done her research... but then, you know... gay men... gay culture... erasure...
posted by hippybear at 11:26 AM on August 21, 2015 [16 favorites]


I'm nowhere close to the cultural sources so when the word started buzzing on tumblr, I remember feeling very confused because it seems like no one who was into using it had any agreed idea on what it actually meant. I have a better idea now, but I am interested to know, is the term as used in the gay community the same as described in this jezebel article?
posted by cendawanita at 11:37 AM on August 21, 2015


Relevant Google ngram chart of the term's use
I think the term was first used by gay men in the 1980's. Per The Concise New Partridge Dictionary of Slang and Unconventional English it goes back to 1971, and per Cassell's Dictionary of Slang, the 1950's (though the inexact date suggests they didn't have a specific source).

But this story isn't really about origin, or who was first. It may be that 'fuckboy' in the black sense comes to us by way of the gay 'fuckboy' somehow, or not, but what seems clear is, the term became popular among black people, and then white people took it as their own, from black people, repurposed it without attribution, and congratulated themselves on inventing it, and started to tell black people they were wrong about it's meaning.

And when a majority does that to a minority's slang, it's definitely appropriation. Does that mean that 'fuckboy' can't have new meanings? I'd say language means what it communicates, so it definitely can. But that doesn't mean it's not exploiting black slang and black culture.
posted by gryftir at 11:40 AM on August 21, 2015 [5 favorites]


It doesn't matter to me. I've already launched a clothing company named Fuckboy.
posted by surplus at 11:41 AM on August 21, 2015 [4 favorites]


As far as I encountered it, fuckboy was used to mean one of two things: that guy that you have a steady sex thing with but there is no other involvement, or that guy who comes to sex parties and sex clubs only to have dicks up his ass.
posted by hippybear at 11:42 AM on August 21, 2015 [2 favorites]


using "pearl clutching" to describe women they think are being too earnest

Speaking of novel definitions of slang... who associates that with "earnest," and not any of the connotations that are actually attached to the phrase?
posted by Panjandrum at 11:43 AM on August 21, 2015 [4 favorites]


Funny, I'm familiar with the more contemporary hip-hop usage and not this prior meaning in the gay subculture, and I've always assumed it was a way to construct the same kind of insults that homophobic terms were usually used for (i.e. to denigrate another guy's manhood) in a way that wasn't explicitly homophobic. For instance, Run The Jewels makes extensive use of the word "fuckboy," and I've never heard them say any homophobic slurs.

I think it's fair to say that different communities and even individuals will use slang terms in their own ways. For some, "fuckboy" may be used in a homophobic manner, and for others, as a way of insulting others without being homophobic. I sort of suspect that the current usage evolved independently of the original meaning used in the gay community, but I doubt that anyone knows for sure.

My initial reaction to the piece was to be annoyed, along with the author, that (my fellow) white people would be getting this so wrong, so it's pretty interesting to know that the story may be more complicated than that.
posted by Edgewise at 11:43 AM on August 21, 2015 [1 favorite]


Speaking of novel definitions of slang... who associates that with "earnest," and not any of the connotations that are actually attached to the phrase?

fine, shrill, hysterical, or whatever other misogynistic phrases that pearl-clutching usually stands in for. i was trying to be polite.
posted by nadawi at 11:47 AM on August 21, 2015 [9 favorites]


The funny thing is most of these white people use that slang in ironic contexts on social media, but most wouldn't use it in casual conversations IRL because they have the self-awareness to realize how lame it would sound.

I do hear white hipsters use obviously 'black' slang in spoken conversations, but it's usually done with a certain tone. I suspect it's intended to convey "I know I'm borrowing this word and it's not organic to my culture (and I know you know), so I can't use it unironically, so I'll use it in a sort of knowing, arch, clever way".
posted by theorique at 11:48 AM on August 21, 2015 [3 favorites]


i would give my pinky finger if people stopped using "pearl clutching" to describe women they think are being too earnest.

Oh, but it gets even better. A very typical use is to not-so-very-subtly emasculate men as well. This is very popular with liberal-bashers in places like breitbart and the national review.
posted by George_Spiggott at 11:54 AM on August 21, 2015 [4 favorites]


which pretty much just extends the misogyny of the phrase by likening men to hysterical women.
posted by nadawi at 11:56 AM on August 21, 2015 [6 favorites]


Everyone cites Cam'ron as being the originator, but the earliest mention I'm aware of is Gangsta Shit from Outkast's Stankonia which came out in 2000:

All y'all fuck boys, tuck toys inside your pants
posted by gngstrMNKY at 11:57 AM on August 21, 2015 [2 favorites]


That matches the spike in the Google ngram actually.
posted by Elementary Penguin at 11:59 AM on August 21, 2015


Country, rock, hip-hop, fashion and slang. I wonder what next new thing will be stolen from black culture and subsequently ruined?

Well, #AllLivesMatter started to be a thing...

Now let's stop "throwing shade" on these poor writers! If your editor told you to come up with an exhaustively researched trendpiece on the origins of "fuckboy" because some garbage article in Vanity Fair had the olds coming face-to-face with the term for the first time, tell me you wouldn't feel too dead inside to do much more than noodle around Urban Dictionary for a few minutes.
posted by prize bull octorok at 12:02 PM on August 21, 2015 [3 favorites]


I came here to say exactly what gngstMNKY said, it's one of Andre's verses. And that word is super prevalent in Atlanta/Dirty South hip-hop, anyone got a cite for the Cam'ron reference?

We use it here to mean someone who isn't serious, can't be taken seriously.
posted by TheTingTangTong at 12:03 PM on August 21, 2015 [1 favorite]


i would give my pinky finger if people stopped using "pearl clutching" to describe women they think are being too earnest.

...

Oh, but it gets even better. A very typical use is to not-so-very-subtly emasculate men as well. This is very popular with liberal-bashers in places like breitbart and the national review.

...

which pretty much just extends the misogyny of the phrase by likening men to hysterical women.


Considering the phrase originated with In Living Color's "Men On Film" segments, it's way more complicated than that. It's black gay men characters doing androgynous genderfuck bordering on drag referencing Douglas Sirk-style motifs. Not sure there's actual misogyny contained within that so much as media-based shorthand.
posted by hippybear at 12:05 PM on August 21, 2015 [4 favorites]


I thought this was a word that originated in the gay community? I am really confused.
posted by SkylitDrawl at 12:06 PM on August 21, 2015 [1 favorite]


It doesn't matter to me, I've already named my children Fuckboy.
posted by oceanjesse at 12:06 PM on August 21, 2015 [6 favorites]


You don’t get to change the meaning of words because all your white friends are using it incorrectly.

That's exactly how you change the meanings of words. And it works the other way too.
posted by 256 at 12:08 PM on August 21, 2015 [9 favorites]




Everybody stealing everybody else's slang has happened for as long as the human race has been using slang. I get why groups resent other people taking their in-group slang and making free with it, often changing the meaning in the process, but getting mad at it is like getting mad at the weather, utterly pointless.

I think probably most people here are on the same page with you about this, but the inevitability of slang dissemination doesn't necessarily make it a ethically neutral behavior in the case of white people adopting usages coined by black people. I don't think anyone's under the impression that it will stop, but that doesn't make the implications not worth examining.
posted by invitapriore at 12:13 PM on August 21, 2015 [2 favorites]


nadawi: "i would give my pinky finger if people stopped using "pearl clutching" to describe women they think are being too earnest."

But this would dramatically undermine the thing where, when I think a public meeting is going to be particularly stupid, I wear my pearls to it, and whenever someone starts shouting about something crazy and concern-trollish ("SIDEWALKS NEED RAILINGS! THINK OF THE CHILDREN WITH SIDEWALKS WITHOUT RAILINGS!"), I clutch them.

I really do. It makes excruciatingly stupid public meetings moderately more bearable.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 12:13 PM on August 21, 2015 [10 favorites]


I thought this was a word that originated in the gay community? I am really confused.

Black people are gay, too.

I mostly hear fuckboy (and rachet, and shade, etc...) used by black, gay people - specifically The Read, but I assumed all of it had a much older history within those communities that has filtered out to the wider black community and from thence to white people Trying to Be Cool (tm).
posted by Deoridhe at 12:21 PM on August 21, 2015 [2 favorites]


the inevitability of slang dissemination doesn't necessarily make it a ethically neutral behavior

Well, duh. Who in their right mind would want to appropriate labradoodle?
posted by grumpybear69 at 12:22 PM on August 21, 2015 [2 favorites]


But this would dramatically undermine the thing where, when I think a public meeting is going to be particularly stupid, I wear my pearls to it, and whenever someone starts shouting about something crazy and concern-trollish ("SIDEWALKS NEED RAILINGS! THINK OF THE CHILDREN WITH SIDEWALKS WITHOUT RAILINGS!"), I clutch them.

I really do. It makes excruciatingly stupid public meetings moderately more bearable.


This is fantastic. When there's someone I don't like but I have to be around frequently (someone with whom I work, dating a friend, ends up at the same parties as I do but I hate them, &c.), especially if they're a habitual mansplainer, I try to see how outrageously fawning I can be before they catch on that I am kidding. So far I have never actually lost because they all just think I like them a bunch so I just keep drinking and acting interested. It's really improved my tolerance for people I detest.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 12:25 PM on August 21, 2015 [8 favorites]


You know, with a little bit more detail, like that provided in this thread, the problematic trend pieces could have been the story about how a term that was popularized in a homophobic way to demean black men grew to mean something different through its usage in gay black communities and then made its way to wider black cultures and then was used by feminists to describe a certain type of man and now is being used in a different way. That'd be a whole lot more interesting than what we're getting.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 12:27 PM on August 21, 2015 [10 favorites]


white people Trying to Be Cool

Not sure if you did that on purpose, but "cool" is one of the more famous words appropriated from the black (jazz, especially) community and given a very different meaning.
posted by rocket88 at 12:27 PM on August 21, 2015 [2 favorites]


I'm super happy that we've derailed into the connotations of "pearl clutching," even referencing Slate, which was called out in the linked Jezebel piece (hooray, full circle!). As fascinating as that linguistic history may be, it doesn't change the linked piece from being a terrible attempt to establish ownership on literally the most ephemeral, mutable, and narrowly used linguistic ground, slang.

Brown's piece piece to establish "fuckboy" as some sort of wholly owned and operated copyright of Black People, Inc. ignores that Black people are not some monolith only found in music studios and on twitter. More importantly, she only tangentially touches on the very real issue of erasure which was brought up in this very thread. The attempt to establish some ultimate, unchanging definition of the word is not helped when this is her "clear, simple definition:"
[Fuckboys] are always doing fuck shit. Just the dumbest, weirdest, lamest possible shit ever.”
Killer Mike may as well have said, "Fuckboys are boys who do fuck shit." Oh, wait, that's pretty much what he did. I'm not going to shed tears over a slang term that no one will be using next year being appropriated, and particularly not when the definition is so vague as to basically mean "people I don't like doing things I don't like."
posted by Panjandrum at 12:29 PM on August 21, 2015 [7 favorites]


Brown's piece piece to establish "fuckboy" as some sort of wholly owned and operated copyright of Black People, Inc. ignores that Black people are not some monolith only found in music studios and on twitter.

Hear hear.

To me, complaints about cultural appropriation to my ears sound an awful lot like hipsterism, i.e. "this group of people were doing this thing before it was cool and everyone else started doing it, therefore it belongs to us and everyone else needs to stop doing it!" I used to know someone who was half-Indian who hated George Harrison for similar reasons.
posted by DrAmerica at 12:39 PM on August 21, 2015 [1 favorite]


This isn’t the evolution of language—it is an outright hijacking

English language, alleyways, riffling through pockets, etc.
posted by happyroach at 12:44 PM on August 21, 2015 [5 favorites]


languagehat: Don't you think that slang and linguistic creativity flow from minority, outsider groups, inward to majority groups though? I don't get the sense that there is a equilibrium of slang-flow, and that's part of what makes the phenomenon interesting to me.

And of course appropriating a word and making it your own has been happening forever. I was responding to this specific comment: "We really need to talk about young white people stealing black slang. It's rampant and we've gone through like a dozen such examples over the past few years alone. "
posted by So You're Saying These Are Pants? at 12:46 PM on August 21, 2015


happyroach is referring to a quote from James Nicoll, by the way:

“The problem with defending the purity of the English language is that English is about as pure as a cribhouse whore. We don't just borrow words; on occasion, English has pursued other languages down alleyways to beat them unconscious and rifle their pockets for new vocabulary.”

By the way, I would be really disappointed if this thread turned into a bunch of white people talking about what may or may not offend black people.
posted by DrAmerica at 12:51 PM on August 21, 2015 [5 favorites]


Is it okay if it's white people talking about how using fuckboy as meaning "men doing fuck shit. Just the dumbest, weirdest, lamest possible shit ever" given its origins as a gay term for differing versions of sort of sexual partners is offensive to gay men of any race?
posted by hippybear at 12:54 PM on August 21, 2015


To me, complaints about cultural appropriation to my ears sound an awful lot like hipsterism, i.e. "this group of people were doing this thing before it was cool and everyone else started doing it, therefore it belongs to us and everyone else needs to stop doing it!"

The whole point of cultural appropriation is that white people get more access to and social capital in enacting the culture of PoC than PoC in North America actually do. Chinese people get obscenities yelled at them and get told to "go back to your own country" when we speak Chinese, but when a white dude does it, it shows how interesting and well-traveled and educated they are. Aboriginal people get their own culture stamped out of them through centuries of genocide and residential schools to the point that they have to struggle to reclaim any components of their own culture, and then white people wear feather headdresses like token accessories. Black people get derided, told they're low class and criminals for using black vernacular and slang, and white people get to be fierce and sassy and cool for using it.

Your comparison of PoC to hipsters seriously minimizes the deep pain we suffer from over this issue.
posted by Conspire at 1:13 PM on August 21, 2015 [35 favorites]


Descriptivism doesn't or shouldn't imply being uninterested in the social and political significance of words, let alone denying it.

For example it's not the case that if lots of people call you a you should suck it up because that's what the word means now.

Equally you can't rip a word from one culture and redefine it as you like without any come back just because you're numerous.

posted by Segundus at 1:30 PM on August 21, 2015


In conclusion, "fuckboy" is a land of contrasts
posted by Going To Maine at 1:31 PM on August 21, 2015 [6 favorites]


So this would be, like, 'whitesplaining?'
posted by Mooski at 1:32 PM on August 21, 2015


I'm not sure that any culture gets to claim absolute ownership of the meaning of the combination of two very common words, particularly when both are commonly used in derogatory ways. If a black rapper had coined a new term, I could see getting upset if white hipsters changed the meaning but not this.

For what it's worth, I remember the term from the gay scene in the 90s and I've never knowingly heard anything from the rapper in question.
posted by Candleman at 1:50 PM on August 21, 2015 [2 favorites]


At this point this Jezebel article seems like when White Wolf threatened to sue the author of Twilight for using vampires in her book.
posted by Going To Maine at 1:50 PM on August 21, 2015 [4 favorites]


Never liked ratchet, personally. The word just clanks.
posted by Ambient Echo at 1:51 PM on August 21, 2015 [3 favorites]


I wasn't comparing people of color to hipsters, I was comparing the outrage over usage and adoption of a word outside its original context to hipsterism, and I think it's unfair to compare that to people being told to go back to China for speaking Chinese. What's happening with "fuckboy" is just not in the same league as that.
posted by DrAmerica at 1:52 PM on August 21, 2015 [4 favorites]


I'm super happy that we've derailed into the connotations of "pearl clutching," even referencing Slate, which was called out in the linked Jezebel piece (hooray, full circle!)

The Slate article, in turn, calls out Jezebel! The snake eats its tail.
posted by grumpybear69 at 2:07 PM on August 21, 2015


I've already launched a clothing company named Fuckboy.

Not to be confused with A&F
posted by Twang at 2:09 PM on August 21, 2015 [4 favorites]


I'm still hoping that that petition to call a group of squid a squad goes through.
posted by discopolo at 2:11 PM on August 21, 2015 [1 favorite]


Jezebel in September 2014 in an article about the "death" of the term:
"The word “fuccboi” derives from the term “fuckboy,” an effective dis for its withering cadence but, again, potentially homophobic depending on who is wielding it. I can’t place the exact moment the term “fuckboy” came to prominence, but I vaguely remember hearing it a lot during the mid-’00s peak of the Harlem rap crew Dipset, whose leader Cam’ron was the main perpetrator of the awful term “no homo.” In 2008, though, the WuTang affiliates Othorized F.A.M. released a song titled “Fuckboy,” in which the term is deployed as a diminuitive with no homophobic agenda, meant to cut down opponents as babies playing baby games: “You hopscotch fuckboys all but miss,” goes the chorus, “Say why everybody gotta mosh with the kid.” Others define fuccbois as, simply, people who are fucking with their mental. There is no official etymology for the term fuckboy (or fuccboi), yet, but again, its intent is linked to who is saying it, and how."
posted by Bwithh at 2:14 PM on August 21, 2015 [1 favorite]


The real problem with all of this is that it's clickbait all the way down, from Vanity Fair's original offence to the Huffpost's jumping on the bandwagon to this example of Jezebel's we are outraged style.

Hence more heat than light is being generated on a subject that's far more complicated and less black and white than any of the people arguing need it to be to get their hit rate up.
posted by MartinWisse at 2:17 PM on August 21, 2015 [7 favorites]


The point here, in case you missed it in your inchoate rage over not being given the keys to the Castle Fuckboy, is that white people not only take slang from the black community to imbue themselves with "cred," but then shit all over the culture they took it from by ignoring the context AND ALSO writing lazy thinkpieces and assuming anything modern and "relevant" came from a white context. It's like giving a group assignment to a group of students and when they do exceptionally well, turning to the only white, male student and saying, "so, you must have taken the lead here!"

So maybe if you're going to be mad, be mad at the random laziness of these authors who are shitting on gay people and black people and the intersection of those two sets by not even acknowledging their existence, and not the woman who is trying to say "lazy racism is bad." (I know, I know, she is a Woman Speaking with Authority and therefore suspect, but there is a greater good here.)
posted by easter queen at 2:17 PM on August 21, 2015 [14 favorites]


This is one of the most absurdly puritan and impractical statements about language: To be clear, white people can use black slang—provided they know what it means. But what you cannot do is appropriate words that we’ve established to mean something and change the language because you feel like it or, more likely, because you’re confused.
posted by Bwithh at 2:19 PM on August 21, 2015 [1 favorite]


Maybe a better example would be looking at a write-up by a black person and thinking "hm, it will suffice but it's rather pedestrian, average," and then looking at the same write-up done by a white person and saying, "oh, excellent! So very concise and on point!" Which is a thing that happens. Apparently not just in the workplace, but in popular culture. See, e.g., rock music, "fuckboy," etc.
posted by easter queen at 2:20 PM on August 21, 2015 [1 favorite]


The point here, in case you missed it in your inchoate rage over not being given the keys to the Castle Fuckboy, is that white people not only take slang from the black community to imbue themselves with "cred," but then shit all over the culture they took it from by ignoring the context AND ALSO writing lazy thinkpieces and assuming anything modern and "relevant" came from a white context. It's like giving a group assignment to a group of students and when they do exceptionally well, turning to the only white, male student and saying, "so, you must have taken the lead here!"

Given that the lazy think piece on Jezebel was written by a Black writer unaware of the much longer history of the term, that may not actually be the point.
posted by Going To Maine at 2:22 PM on August 21, 2015 [2 favorites]


It is, actually, the point-- I think the author would be interested in a conversation about what has cropped up in these comments, and her piece is not nearly as lazy as the pieces she's annoyed with. There is a huge difference between "term emanates from gay culture in the 80s, twenty years later majorly resurfaces with a different inflection" and "term emanates from black/hip hop culture, is IMMEDIATELY co-opted and obliviated by white trendsters."

Seriously, why are we nitpicking the author-- who is justifiably peeved about this-- and searching for linguistic slippage in all her statements, and/or talking about how this is not even worthy of our time and attention because it's just about slang and culture, or how it can't be racist because homophobia (news flash, they both exist), and/or just hating on Slate/Jezebel/whatever? Is it because we think racism is fake, or what?
posted by easter queen at 2:26 PM on August 21, 2015 [4 favorites]


I wasn't comparing people of color to hipsters, I was comparing the outrage over usage and adoption of a word outside its original context to hipsterism, and I think it's unfair to compare that to people being told to go back to China for speaking Chinese. What's happening with "fuckboy" is just not in the same league as that.

I'm one of those people who been yelled at to get back to China for just walking down the street while speaking Chinese to my dad. In downtown Vancouver, of all places. And I happen to think the constant white appropriation of black vernacular, while actual black people get degraded for using it, is indeed the same class of racist phenomena and sentiment as what gets hurled at me. I suspect a lot of the people who you perceive to be overreacting over this issue might be the same people who constantly endure racism that you perceive to be admissible by your judgment. Do you only listen to the pain of PoC when what we say is amenable to you?
posted by Conspire at 2:35 PM on August 21, 2015 [11 favorites]


In related white writer doesn't understand black culture: Social Media Roasts This Writer Who Said Beyoncé's Hair on the Cover of 'Vogue' was "Stringy" and "Un-Pretty" (and plenty of links therein to other examples)
posted by kmz at 2:44 PM on August 21, 2015 [1 favorite]


in your inchoate rage over not being given the keys to the Castle Fuckboy

Well, could I rent it for a weekend?
posted by octobersurprise at 2:46 PM on August 21, 2015 [3 favorites]


[Couple comments removed, please cool it a little.]
posted by cortex (staff) at 2:48 PM on August 21, 2015


I'm not sure that any culture gets to claim absolute ownership of the meaning of the combination of two very common words, particularly when both are commonly used in derogatory ways.

This was my very first thought on reading the article. Two (actually at least three) groups seem to have combined two common words into one to describe different phenomena based on differing uses of the word fuck. The one originating in black culture means a guy who does fuck-all, as in nothing. The other two are using the sexual connotation of fuck to create a very different use of the same term. There would be more of a case for outright appropriation if this had been a newly-coined word.

White appropriation of black slang is definitely a thing worth talking about, but this is a somewhat weak example.
posted by rocket88 at 2:54 PM on August 21, 2015 [6 favorites]


inchoate rage over not being given the keys to the Castle Fuckboy

If you replace "inchoate rage" with "eyerolling over clickbait trendpieces" and "keys to Castle Fuckboy" with "I don't care," then you have accurately summed up my position.

And, again, "fuckboy" is not representative of the "black community," black people, black culture or anything else to which you might want to affix "black." It is a slang term used by a very narrow slice of both the Black and total US population. Hitching the term to the entirety of Black people does no one any benefit and only perpetuates a stereotype of Black people as cool trendsetting jive-speakers.
posted by Panjandrum at 3:01 PM on August 21, 2015 [7 favorites]


Is it because we think racism is fake, or what?

Yes, that is the only possible conclusion. Oh well. Enjoy arguing with yourself...
posted by smidgen at 3:08 PM on August 21, 2015 [2 favorites]


Somewhere Killer Mike is putting dollar bills inside sympathy cards, sliding them into envelopes, and handing them to EL-P who is licking stamps until his tongue is dry.
posted by The Hamms Bear at 3:09 PM on August 21, 2015 [2 favorites]


Apparently the author believes she has the power to control what words people use.
posted by Ironmouth at 3:17 PM on August 21, 2015


A squad of squid! That's almost as good as an actually of mansplainers. :)
posted by Ambient Echo at 3:27 PM on August 21, 2015 [1 favorite]


This is one of the most absurdly puritan and impractical statements about language: To be clear, white people can use black slang—provided they know what it means. But what you cannot do is appropriate words that we’ve established to mean something and change the language because you feel like it or, more likely, because you’re confused.

Obviously that's the most wishful of thinking when you're talking about use of slang - for one thing as the word spreads among white people many will be unaware that it ever was "black" - but that doesn't mean the process by which it loses it's "blackness" isn't a topic worth investigating. And when a whole bevy of writers attempt to pseudo-authoritatively define the word for their presumed white audience with no idea of its history and only the shakiest conception of it's current use? Surely that's worth a cringe at very least. That Tinder piece got one from me and I'm pretty much Whitey Blanco from Whitesville.
posted by atoxyl at 3:32 PM on August 21, 2015 [2 favorites]


"Fuckboy Roy (not to be confused with Suckboy Roy), a San Francisco kink party regular who's used that name for, I dunno, two decades, might have a useful lesson to the person who wrote this: slang emerges in different groups under different meanings. There is no one true slang."

At my old job, we had a highschool kid who wrote "fuckboi" in white out on the back of her denim vest. She was pretty punk rock, though.

(Since "boi" was a pretty regular thing, I just assumed it came out of gay culture and did what it said on the tin.)
posted by klangklangston at 3:40 PM on August 21, 2015


Completely contained within the white world, I always hated what 'they' did to skinhead.
posted by Pembquist at 4:12 PM on August 21, 2015 [1 favorite]


I love slang. You can bet "fuckboy" has ridden the high seas since time immemorial. It has gotta be pirate talk. But, I love slang, all of it. African American slanguage is my favorite.
posted by Oyéah at 5:02 PM on August 21, 2015 [2 favorites]


Wait wasn't "boi" invented by Avril Lavigne?
posted by theorique at 5:31 PM on August 21, 2015 [1 favorite]


No.
posted by Going To Maine at 5:48 PM on August 21, 2015 [1 favorite]


has anyone seriously ever heard any other person say this term out loud?
PS. i used to kind of read Jezebel, but lately the old internet adage to "never read the comments"pretty much sums up that whole website.
posted by Conrad-Casserole at 8:48 PM on August 21, 2015


um. yes. lots.
posted by nadawi at 10:05 PM on August 21, 2015


has anyone seriously ever heard any other person say this term out loud?

Yes. More than once, more than twice, more than I can easily count.

But not used in the way the FPP article says it should be used.
posted by hippybear at 10:37 PM on August 21, 2015


has anyone seriously ever heard any other person say this term out loud?

Yup. By black, gay/lesbian people, even. It's not language I'd ever use - my vernacular is closer to literary-English blustocking - but that doesn't mean I can't appreciate it.
posted by Deoridhe at 11:22 PM on August 21, 2015


"Wait wasn't "boi" invented by Avril Lavigne?"

I SAID SEE YOU LATER
posted by klangklangston at 11:36 PM on August 21, 2015 [2 favorites]


has anyone seriously ever heard any other person say this term out loud?

Nope. But clearly some people do; I admit that brings me down, but so does most blue speech.
posted by Going To Maine at 11:41 PM on August 21, 2015


"has anyone seriously ever heard any other person say this term out loud? "

Yes, by people who get monolithically labeled as PoCs.

Also, I get a weird feeling from a part of the article:

"Fuckboy is a term that most will agree was first introduced publicly by the rapper Cam’ron and later became of the larger hip hop lexicon. (That being said, you can almost guarantee that it was because the term was floating around Harlem in the first place that led to Cam’ron using it in a song.) "

It seems to imply that Harlem is somehow isolated from the rest of NYC. It's weird. Also, I saw a comment somewhere that said that they heard the term be used in the movie Kids which came out in 1995 and also takes place in NYC. I've never seen the movie so can anyone who has explain the context?
posted by I-baLL at 12:29 AM on August 22, 2015


I'm amazed nothing in here mentioned or linked covers this, but i recently heard an impassioned long defense on social media(now deleted or made private) of the concept that fuccboi and fuckboy are different, and that fuccboi is the more black version, and that white people using that version are doing a grosser thing than those who just write fuckboy.

This gets interesting if you start searching twitter and look at who was posting what, and when... or just start searching around in general. There is definitely a trend, and i've noticed this myself in my own interactions with people and the internet, in the kind of white guy who wants to seem "hood"/hard/with it or just general stupid bros writing it fuccboi.

I'm not really sure what this adds, or what to add, i'm just surprised that none of these thinkpieces that try and get into the history of the phrase or even the history of its recent usage seem to spend much time on the different spellings, or the shift in the average spelling. There was definitely a curve of it shifting from one to the other in the average social media posts i saw.
posted by emptythought at 3:48 AM on August 22, 2015


> I think probably most people here are on the same page with you about this, but the inevitability of slang dissemination doesn't necessarily make it a ethically neutral behavior in the case of white people adopting usages coined by black people.

But it is ethically neutral behavior. At least, I can't think of a sensible definition of "ethics" that would make it wrong to use a word or phrase somebody else is using (setting aside vile insults, obviously). The fact that people get irritated at something does not make it ethically problematic.

> languagehat: Don't you think that slang and linguistic creativity flow from minority, outsider groups, inward to majority groups though? I don't get the sense that there is a equilibrium of slang-flow, and that's part of what makes the phenomenon interesting to me.

Well, sure, that's how linguistic creativity works in popular use of language, and it's very interesting indeed.
posted by languagehat at 6:08 AM on August 22, 2015 [3 favorites]


It seems entirely plausible to me that fuckboy could have arisen completely independently in different communities. It's not a particularly creative coinage, and the various meanings ascribed to it all make perfect sense for the combination of fuck and boy, two common words. This isn't ratchet or shade or any of the other unique slang that would be better examples of the phenomenon of majority groups appropriating minority slang.
posted by Mavri at 7:34 AM on August 22, 2015 [3 favorites]


One could say that the act of recording a rap record that uses slang is actually advertising minority slang to a majority group. It's not surprising that it then gets picked up by those listening and then spread outside that circle to others.
posted by hippybear at 7:52 AM on August 22, 2015 [2 favorites]


Don't you think that slang and linguistic creativity flow from minority, outsider groups, inward to majority groups though? I don't get the sense that there is a equilibrium of slang-flow, and that's part of what makes the phenomenon interesting to me.

Yeah, that is basically the definition of "slang". In-group words are just words. Out-group words are slang.

Also this made me laugh:

Writer Jacob Brogan must have bionic arms because the reaches he makes are downright laughable.
posted by heatherann at 8:06 AM on August 22, 2015


Thinking about this thread this morning, it occurs to me that some people might not be aware of exactly how much AAVE is being appropriated these days (and then discarded once white people and brands ruin it) Maybe compiling a list would help. This is a start:

fuckboy
bae
lit
turnt
slay
queen
yasss
fire
___ game on point
___ as fuck / af
basic
on fleek
stay woke
squad
fam
posted by naju at 10:25 AM on August 22, 2015


Thinking about this thread this morning, it occurs to me that some people might not be aware of exactly how much AAVE is being appropriated these days (and then discarded once white people and brands ruin it)

Is black slang necessarily a part of AAVE? I think of AAVE as being mostly about grammar. But I think a lot of the uses of these slang words occur by black people who aren't necessarily using AAVE grammatical conventions. Is there a meaningful distinction between AAVE and black slang?
posted by andoatnp at 10:36 AM on August 22, 2015


I'm not entirely sure. If languagehat is around, he can probably shed some light on this.
posted by naju at 11:01 AM on August 22, 2015


For perspective, I'm white, white extended family, grew up in a vastly white area of the country.

With regards to cultural appropriation and hipster cooption: "What's happening with "fuckboy" is just not in the same league..."

It may not be of similar scale, but it's still an act in a lineage of more distinctively gross behavior. This isn't a particular area of study for me, so I can't offer concrete citations without spending some time looking, but there's a grand history of appropriation that goes beyond simply reusing words. Not crediting originators, lowball purchases of creative work, and in general not offering black performers the type of coverage and appreciation that leaves the tapestry of American culture paler than it should be.

These more profound acts would (for the most part) be both more easily discovered, and not be tolerated today, but things like this are their modern descendants. And that's not even getting into the issue of the hypocrisy in contemporary perception of styles as worn by white vs. PoC.

tl;dr, history matters, and white culture has a selective memory.
posted by Jack Karaoke at 11:53 AM on August 22, 2015 [1 favorite]


(and then discarded once white people and brands ruin it)

What would it even mean to "ruin" a word? Suddenly make it uncool to use within some small circuit of usage? There seems to be an implicit theory of culture behind this which is presuming that words or cultural gestures are some kind of essential emenation or property of a people that must be kept pure from contamination by unfavored others.

Now I don't know about you, but I find such a belief childish at best and deeply, uh, problematic at worst.
posted by octobersurprise at 12:35 PM on August 22, 2015


I really can't figure out what you find childish/problematic about this concept. Maybe a link will help?

Now that white people have declared 'bae' over, black people can use it in peace

Cultural appropriation at its best, steals, reduces, overuses and then disposes of words like so much bathwater. The linguist Jane H Hill defines language appropriation as “a type of complex cultural borrowing that involves a dominant group’s ‘theft’ of aspects of a target group’s language.” Hill claims that the ‘theft’ adds value to white identity while further marginalizing nondominant groups. This cultural “borrowing” of black language and phraseology happens regularly, allowing non-black folk to “try on” black culture through the use of African American English vernacular and slang without having to “put on” the cultural consequences of actually being black in a culture conditioned to devalue and dismiss it.

As Hill claims, language appropriation is further problematic because it gives dominant groups control over the language. Dominant groups get to decide, for example, when and if certain words are worth appropriation, when and how the words should be used, and then when the word becomes cliché, overused and therefore passé. And often in the process, as happened with “bae”, the dominant group ends up changing the meaning or pronunciation of words entirely.

The good news is that black language is resilient and black folk are creative. So even when the dominant culture tries to dispose of the terms it wears out, other words and phrases will emerge. We already know some of them. Already you can see terms grounded in communities (“bye Felicia”), disguised in pronunciation (“ratchet”), or invented from imagination (“on fleek”) slipping into mainstream and popular culture lexicons (again). There, they will be mass produced for financial gain (again), and eventually disposed of (again).

posted by naju at 12:56 PM on August 22, 2015 [1 favorite]


All I'm seeing here is a bunch of slippery slope arguments and unsupported assertions.
posted by DrAmerica at 1:16 PM on August 22, 2015


It's not a high school debate. It's a phenomenon many marginalized people have experienced personally and they're telling you about it. You can ignore their words if you'd like.
posted by naju at 1:29 PM on August 22, 2015 [4 favorites]


naju...nobody is arguing that cultures don't take artifacts from each other and contexualize them differently. That is an objective fact. But interpretations about how and why this happens and the motives behind them are not personal experiences. They are theories about culture and they deserve critique and discussion. Your comment highlights the same dynamic that I see over and over again here which is a conflation between objective personal experience and interpretation of said experience. If that distinction isn't appreciated, then a meaningful discussion will not be possible.
posted by Seymour Zamboni at 1:43 PM on August 22, 2015 [2 favorites]


Several things happen with cultural and language appropriation which damage the communities which are appropriated from.

1) Denial of paid compensation. You can see this in the historical theft of musical genres like jazz and rock & roll, where black people were explicitly excluded from lucrative contracts and recognition of their talent, to modern situations like the ongoing theft of Hip Hop, where white people are rewarded by increased contracts and recognition. This is a systemic problem which is replicated in other places (for example nursing, where male nurses become management and get paid more rapidly, or education, where male teachers are rapidly promoted over women) where people who are privileged vis a vis the main population of a community gain wide recognition and remuneration, as well as credit for "discovering" things they learned from less privileged members of the community. Elvis is the King of Rock and Roll because he is white.

2) Meaningful language becoming shibboleths of inclusion/superiority. You see this in the desperate desire of white people to use the term "nigga" without ever running the risk of having that term used on them as a slur. It is, as Yahdon Israel talks about, a case where white people wanting the inclusion without even recognizing that the word is a symbol for an experience that cannot be shared.

3) The specifics of culture are mangled in the service of white people. This is a lot of what this article is about, but you can see in in other places where everyone has a "Cherokee Princess" ancestor (nevermind that the Cherokee had no royalty and the images most often used alongside this claim are from the Lakota), and you can buy "Dreamcatchers" with a fake Lakota history attached to them across most of the Southwest. This can sometimes be a very specific form of trying to erase reality, like white women singing "Strange Fruit" without ever mentioning lynching, or people using the term "lynching" to refer to black people disagreeing with them on the internet. In all of these cases, white people are positioning ourselves as rightful inheritors of the creations of other cultures without doing even the most cursory exploration of the actual context and the people who still exist alongside us despite our best attempts to destroy them.

4) The degradation of those stolen from is reinforced. Before the stolen things become mainstream, they become oddities and evidence that someone is sexual, or adult, or edgy. For example, the theft of twerking by pop stars like Miley Cyrus and Taylor Swift, who both use a black form of dance to signal that they are adult, sexual women - often against a backdrop of those same black women. Cyrus and Swift are both seen as trendy while older white people repeat the old axioms of kids these days; the black women they learned from aren't even named and are frequently shown without their faces, one of the standard types of dehumanization. Cyrus slapping the rear ends of black women while they twerk isn't just her jettisoning her innocent youth, it's also her reinforcing that black women are silent accessories for white women.

There is more, but this is a very specific type of interaction where the benefit is not mutual. White people are most likely to get the benefits from this exchange with none of the costs, and as such it behooves us to be more ethical and moral about how we interact by others. That we can get away with it because the world is racist is a reason to not do it, not a reason to pretend doing is natural and expected.
posted by Deoridhe at 2:24 PM on August 22, 2015 [9 favorites]


Your comment highlights the same dynamic that I see over and over again here which is a conflation between objective personal experience and interpretation of said experience. If that distinction isn't appreciated, then a meaningful discussion will not be possible.

Perhaps the problem is that for the dominant group it's more or less an academic exercise, and for the affected group it's rather obvious what's happening because they experience it and deal with it in a nuanced fashion every day. Speaking more broadly this is a knowledge gap that comes up often in these discussions, and from my point of view, if that's not appreciated then a meaningful discussion will not be possible.
posted by naju at 2:32 PM on August 22, 2015 [1 favorite]


"They are theories about culture and they deserve critique and discussion."

Hard to argue with that, except for the fact that even when that discussion occurs, it's often without real appreciation and understanding of all the points Deoridhe lists.

On preview: naju. And what irks me even further is that this "knowledge gap" is one that I expect people who publish words for a living to dig into in earnest, vs. me, a total non-specialist.
posted by Jack Karaoke at 2:38 PM on August 22, 2015


conflation between objective personal experience and interpretation of said experience

One of the ironies of how people tend to use objectivity is that they use it as a synonym of "uninvolved" or "unemotional" instead of recognizing that objectivity is something best created between multiple people with very different perspectives so as to cover wider ground and include more experiences.

This has resulted in "objectivity" meaning "identify two sides and cover both" and so "Climate change is a thing that is happening" and "Climate change is a lie" are treated as equal claims in the objective, journalistic sphere despite severe differences in the actual knowledge and experiences of people making both claims.

In this case, "objectivity" is being used to privilege people who are 1) uninvolved and thus most likely to be ignorant 2) unemotional about it and so thus least likely to have a personal experience with the phenomena and 3) people who use academic language - a specific type of language that itself is a result of exclusionary tactics along gender, racial, and economic lines, and where who gets attention is itself privileged along axes of discrimination.

In any case, in terms of social dynamics "objectivity" is much less important that "subjectivity" because we literally make our social dynamics using shared subjective experiences. Culture isn't handed down by fiat; it is literally a creation of shared subjectivity, empathy with each other, and means of excluding others. White culture in the US is created by simultaneously excluding everyone else (including Italians, Irish people, and Jews when we get stroppy) while stealing from the very people we exclude and then lamenting that our culture is McDonalds and Pop Music.

Part of how I learned to be racist, sexist, classist, ableist, homophobic, and transphobic is through mimicking the behavior of the people around me and absorbing the inequalities in various forms of media - the assumptions that make up US White-Dominated Culture. I am learning to undo it is through self-education, choosing different people to be around, and choosing different media to engage with. None of this is objective, and claiming it should be is to ignore how humans and human interaction works, and indeed how culture is created.
posted by Deoridhe at 3:04 PM on August 22, 2015 [1 favorite]


"Thinking about this thread this morning, it occurs to me that some people might not be aware of exactly how much AAVE is being appropriated these days (and then discarded once white people and brands ruin it) Maybe compiling a list would help. This is a start:"

"These days"? Bless. And I hear what you're saying, but part of the problem I'm having is that slang origins are often pretty tenuous — "on point" is from the military, so arguments about it coming from AAVE would have to get into the murkier claim that it's been recently repopularlized by AAVE. Or "as fuck," which is a construction since forever (in the same vein as "as shit," "as hell," "as balls," "as [generic profanity used as intensifier]").

Or: Cultural appropriation can be harmful, but calling it "theft" is the "home taping is killing music" of linguistics.

"White culture in the US is created by simultaneously excluding everyone else (including Italians, Irish people, and Jews when we get stroppy) while stealing from the very people we exclude and then lamenting that our culture is McDonalds and Pop Music."

Almost like culture is the product of a lot of small local actors without much inherent cultural capital exchange between them, so any view of something as nebulous as "white culture" will be rife with contradictions based on a misformed notion of "we."
posted by klangklangston at 5:09 PM on August 22, 2015 [3 favorites]


We have a green culture, if you want to talk about color. Blind, green money runs this place. Then it is largely run by lackeys of those with the green in hope of keeping the hopeless of all colors appeased.

Slang, beautiful slang, is a cover for the intimate register of language, spoken publicly. Most often it is how a younger generation creates a boundary between their way of thinking and being, and that of the generation before them. Then people of an oppressed culture make slang that is used as a barrier to understanding by oppressors, and imbued with a fine humor or fiery passion, is a creative act, and a homecoming.

Not all appropriation is bad, some of it is attempt to understand, to communicate, to find common ground. It was once said by some boring stoat of a white guy, "Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery." By the way one British working class version of fuckboy is teddyboy. That is from the seventies.
posted by Oyéah at 6:32 PM on August 22, 2015 [1 favorite]


So black culture needs to be isolated and kept apart from the majority culture in the US? And your skin color should determine which language you are allowed to use? Because those two statements seem to be the logical conclusion of some of these arguments.
posted by I-baLL at 7:09 PM on August 22, 2015 [1 favorite]


By the way one British working class version of fuckboy is teddyboy. That is from the seventies.

I can't quite work out the comparison you're making, but Teddy Boy as a style subculture dates from the '50s, though the look has been revived lots of times. The term doesn't have as strong a note of disdain as fuccboi/fuckboy, I think, since it just describes an Edwardian-esque look, though there were moral panics about the culture itself. (Are there self-identified fuccbois? I know very little about it.) And there aren't really any appropriation issues with "teddy boy" that I know of. Not to derail, just a bit confused about the point here.
posted by thetortoise at 7:46 PM on August 22, 2015 [1 favorite]


Deoridhe wrote: This can sometimes be a very specific form of trying to erase reality, like white women singing "Strange Fruit" without ever mentioning lynching

Or sampling a specific phrase without knowing its history. A Boston restaurant faced outrage after a patron blogged about a cocktail on its menu entitled "Strange Fruit". Oops.
posted by theorique at 5:43 AM on August 23, 2015


The only time I hear fuckboy being used in real life is by the 13 year olds on the bus I take everyday. A nice mix of races, similar to the demographic of the local private school they attend.

I've only ever heard them use fuckboy exactly the way this article says no one does. It's pretty much the male version of a "thot", another word they use constantly.

Just one data point take it for what it is.
posted by laptolain at 7:18 AM on August 23, 2015 [1 favorite]


[A few comments deleted. DrAmerica, knock it off.]
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 1:54 PM on August 23, 2015


It seems to me that slang tends to be evanescent and transitory, and the very engine behind its creation is at least in part fueled by the experience of having clueless people appropriate it. Some of it escapes (or is abducted) into the wider world and gains broader acceptance, but in the process it is robbed of its cachet, which spurs creation of new slang for your in-group. It seems like the way things always have been and is in some way necessary for the rich and exciting ongoing emergence of new slang.

Then again, very few of my own clever coinages over the decades have been adopted by the wider world, so maybe I just haven't felt the pain of linguistic co-optation.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 6:41 PM on August 23, 2015 [2 favorites]


It seems to me that slang tends to be evanescent and transitory, and the very engine behind its creation is at least in part fueled by the experience of having clueless people appropriate it.

Slang is the domain of subcultures and in-groups. Part of the point is to exclude the out-group, and maintain exclusivity, so it's easy to see why some in-groups get upset when the boring old mainstream starts using their word, and even worse, using it wrong.

Another recent example happened with "basic bitch". Popularized by the (black) comedian Lil' Duval, it started off as as a synonym for "thot" or "ho", but when it crossed over into the (white) mainstream, its meaning transformed to something more like "conformist,upper-middle-class, sorority girl". However, I suspect that Lil' Duval and the rest of the authentic black cultural industry have some more good words coming down the pipe now that lily-white grandmothers in Stamford or Wellesley all know what "basic bitch" means.
posted by theorique at 5:08 AM on August 24, 2015


Slang is the domain of subcultures and in-groups. Part of the point is to exclude the out-group, and maintain exclusivity, so it's easy to see why some in-groups get upset when the boring old mainstream starts using their word, and even worse, using it wrong.

Certainly. My point being, of course, that it's that very process that keeps the slang-factories slinging out that splendid slang.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 1:48 PM on August 24, 2015


The only time I hear fuckboy being used in real life is by the 13 year olds on the bus I take everyday. A nice mix of races, similar to the demographic of the local private school they attend.

I've only ever heard them use fuckboy exactly the way this article says no one does. It's pretty much the male version of a "thot", another word they use constantly.

Just one data point take it for what it is.


Well it's worth noting. As a mid-20s white person who listens to rap music and reads stuff on social media I rolled my eyes at the attempted definition in the Vanity Fair piece. To be fair many of these definitions sort of try to present a history of the meaning - while leaving out where it actually came from. But even putting aside the racial/queer culture angle it seemed like lazy journalism trying to condense a general-purpose insult with certain connotations into a word coined for some particular contemporary phenomenon. Like an interviewee called a guy a fuckboy and the writer assumed it must be a specialized term for that guy.

Most everything about this contradicts the premise that "slang is simple," though.

The Google ngram data only seems to go up to 2008 (showing the actual peak in the early 00s) followed by a decline. It does seem to be on the rise in the last couple years - I heard "fuckgirl" the other day - so I wish we had the rest of that chart.
posted by atoxyl at 3:47 PM on August 24, 2015 [1 favorite]


"These days"? Bless.

Yup. I've long been aware of the history of, say "cool" - which a lot of people probably aren't - but it was right here on Metafilter that somebody told me "give it up for X" was a construction borrowed from AAVE and I didn't even really believe it because that's been common usage my entire life. Which of course is the thing that happens. My S.O. was talking the other day about how weird it is how (white) Kids These Days use certain words that were for us clearly marked as Black - and thus conscious, edgy appropriation if you weren't - and I'm pretty sure they really don't think about it for a moment.
posted by atoxyl at 4:06 PM on August 24, 2015


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