LipstickAlley user Curlista93 recently asked users “who refer to their sons as “heartbreakers” and “ladies man” at a very young age” whether or not they thought using such terms were “more likely to encourage or allow fuckboi behavior” when their children get older.
It didn’t take long for women to come forward with all kinds of opinions and for us at FIERCE to nod our heads in approval.
Mostly because, as one user pointed out when terms like these are applied to young boys they often simply imply a “code for he ain’t gon be shit.”
Of course, comments like these are well-meaning. They’re intended really to tell parents that their child is attractive and even sweet maybe. Still, in a lot of ways messages to children, ones that they are “ladies men,” or “heartbreakers” indicate that these are admirable traits to beheld. Moreover, being defined by these characteristics is the goal.
As one user in the thread pointed out, it’s also extremely sexist. “Fathers/Mothers posting pics of their 2-year-old son calling them these names, and they usually never refer to their daughters as heartbreakers. I assume these parents are more likely to groom or allow certain behaviors during adolescence and young adulthood.”
Also, It’s oddly sexual
Some users on the thread strongly disagreed with this sentiment. As one user wrote, “It’s not that serious. It’s just another way to say he’s a handsome young man. Don’t think too hard about it. But there IS something oddly sexualizing about the comments. “I think it’s weird and inappropriate. Sexualizing underaged children, particularly infants and toddlers, reeks of pedophilia/grooming to me,” another user said in response to the question.
It’s a road map for a bad boyfriend.
“Some of y’all don’t understand the power of these messages we give to our children,” another user pointed out. “Telling the boys that they will be heartbreakers and telling the girls they will break a lot of hearts is all putting those thoughts into their minds that that’s what they should do and it’s fine. Just like telling them that they ain’t shit or just like Their sorry ass daddies.”
It sets the bar low.
As one user pointed out “Its code for he ain’t gon be shit.” Why tell boys they’re “heartbreakers” when you could call them “future feminists” and “activists in-the-making”?
It makes for an entitled man in the future.
“I think it sets up destructive and entitled mindsets and behaviors surrounding social and dating dynamics. I loathe anything and everything that sexualizes or fetishizes kids and promotes highly questionable and problematic behaviors, attitudes, and complexes.”
Sure, as some users pointed out, in the end, comments like these might not aim to be so serious.
Often times, admirers of your children might just be trying to implement a compliment. But words have power (have the last 4 years not taught any of us this??). No doubt, comments like these might be coming from well-meaning people but they are comments that stem from some pretty problematic cultural norms about male behavior.
Identifying whether or not we’re dating a man or a little boy can be hard enough as it is. Let’s avoid making it worse.
Toxic masculinity might not always be so easy to report. Sometimes, because of how outlandish, how underhanded it is, we often struggle to report it as women. After all, fears of being too outspoken, or “dramatic,” or sensitive loom large.
Recently women on reddit decided to speak out about the things men do that scare them that men might not often realize.
The responses to the Reddit post were pretty eye-opening and relatable.
“Getting really intense about our relationship/ friendship really early on. A lot of guys turn women into this kind of fantasy thing that’s supposed to make them whole/ help them change or whatever. Sir I am the main character in my own life, not just a supporting one in yours. When you put that pressure on me right away abs without reciprocation, I know that I don’t actually matter, you’ve been taught that women serve you.”- clarkthecatismyguy
“I have gone on a lot of dates in the last few years and every single time the reason for me having doubts and calling things off has been this exact thing. I always feel like the side character in the conversation, while simultaneously carrying the conversation (not always but a lot of the time). A lot of effort with very little pay off. They’ll never ask questions, just waiting for me to react to their ‘wild’ stories and them trying to ‘educate’ me on things they like because I’m so unenlightened. Then after the date, instantly saying they’re very interested in me when they know literally nothing about me, due to not asking a single question about my own interests or life. It’s like… what planet are you on? What do you think you even like about me? You don’t know me.”- OtherSideOfTheTune
“Messages you on a dating app commenting on having found your profile and that they are in the same location as you, they can see you but you can’t see them. I had a guy do this on a fully packed train I was on to go to work. I’m not an anxious person but it felt really uncomfortable.”- elgrn1
“English isn’t my first language so I can’t really generalize this but asking if I need a ride and keep pestering me when I decline.
I used to walk home from school when this old man literally parked his car in front of me while I was crossing a small parking lot and asked if I needed a ride. I lied and said the house at the end of the block was my house. He did it a bunch more times until I had to change my walking route. It was a longer way but I felt safe again.”- Scarlet_B9
“I had to walk the long way to and from school because there were a series of assaults on schoolgirls. It’s so unfair; rapists rape and we’re the ones who have to adjust our behaviour.”- allhailtheboi
“A man chased me out of a bar and into the street one night to get my number. I’d like to say that’s the worst part of the story, but it’s not. He wasn’t chasing me to get my number for himself–he was doing it for his friend. They were both in their early 30s.
Literally none of that is okay. Don’t chase people. It’s not cute. I blame romcoms for people failing to see how uncomfortable this makes women.”- RoeRoeRoeYourVote
“I took the light rail from school to home and this one guy decided he was going to sit next to me on a decently empty light rail. I was just minding my own business. He started asking pretty personal questions. I ended up learning he was in a relationship!! (So was I at the time). He literally missed his stop to get off at the same stop as me and wanted to walk me home. I wasn’t comfortable with that for obvious reasons so I told him he can go that way to take the light rail back to his stop because I gotta go this other way, and he wouldn’t leave until I gave him some sort of contact info.
This is only one of many instances I dealt with men going out of their way to make me feel uncomfortable on the street or on public transport, it’s extremely awkward and quite scary while it’s happening since you don’t know who these people are and how they will react if you don’t smile, nod and act friendly until they’re gone and leave you alone.”- katsaurus
“I want to add strangers offering rides. Has happened to me so many times. A guy once watched me walk past his car at a cross walk and when his light turned green he had followed me, like had to do a U turn to get to where I was to offer me a ride. I’m obviously not going to get in a car with a stranger so they’re either stupid or dangerous.”- SailorSpoon11
“I had a mild creeper problem with a guy I worked with. Too vague for me to go to HR about but serious enough that I got a new position in a different lab.
The final day of the job I was leaving, dude showed up while I was testing at our new site, which wasn’t staffed yet and where we didn’t spend much time. 3 story building, nobody else would be there until the next day. He worked night shift and it was maybe 11am. The only way he could have known where I was was if he’d been watching me or if my shift partner had told him, I never found out which.
There was only one door to the lab and he was blocking it. I thought he was there to kill me. He’s 6’4″ and I’m just under 5’3″.
He congratulated me on my new job and then left a “goodbye gift”. It was the gift he got from me from the office secret Santa, nine months earlier, which he had not unwrapped, and had then wrapped again, to look like a different gift.
Then he left and I used the lab phone to call first my husband and then an off duty coworker I trusted and told them exactly what happened in case I didn’t make it home, then called the south site security guard to escort me to my car. I still didn’t call HR because the guy knew where I lived. I went to my new job and he didn’t talk to me again and I was never on site alone again.
I had a lot of nightmares about it and I still panic if someone blocks a door.”- techlabtech
“While talking online and I say “I don’t know about meeting up” and their response is “You are more likely to be raped by someone you actually know in person”
“I’ve been approached several times in public by random men who say they want to be friends with me. One leaned in really close to have a conversation and asked me where I was from and where I live. Another grabbed my hands and remarked on how soft my skin is. Another one literally locked arms with me and dragged me to a coffee shop to “get to know me” and then later told me to come with him to a more private place for a view of the city. I weakly joke about it sometimes but in the moment it really does make me nervous. I don’t know if I just look really unimposing (I’m an Asian woman but I’m taller than average?) but I’m not sure why it happens. Regardless, please don’t just grab random women, even out of friendliness, and respect personal space.”- kerbula
“Asian woman here too. This happened to me a lot in NYC. A few times I got so sick of it I’d scream at them in the middle of the street and make a scene. They usually skitter away immediately. I hate to do that, but it’s just infuriating.”- foodsexreddit
“It’s so creepy. Most recent time that happened I was just taking a walk by myself to unwind from confinement and this dude just catches up with me and says he want to be my friend, just asking a bunch of personal questions and wanting to know exactly where I live. Eventually I told him I’m married and he said “oh I just want to be friends”. I was originally gonna go the same way he was going but ended up taking a different path.”- naughtydismutase
“I’m a bartender, and it’s amazing how tactless people can be as they get drunker. They just want to keep me by them by asking me question after question, so I have to cross the line into being rude if I want to put a stop to it. Sometimes, people come up with actually some pretty silly things to ask me, and it can be fun to engage them. But I absolutely HATE:
is this your only job? Where else do you work?
do you live close to here?
oh you’re closing huh? When do you usually get out of here?
when do you work next? Do you normally work on this day of the week?
what are you doing after this?
I don’t think ppl always realize how they sound when they ask me these questions but I’ve honestly been asked them so much its ridiculous. And honestly, threatening undertones aside, they’re the most utterly boring questions you could ask someone. The worst of the worst of small talk. How some men manage to be both unnerving and bore me to tears at the same time is utterly fascinating.”- FudgeJudy4booty
“Or following me to do it. I’ve had several guys stop me in the street and explain they saw me 5 blocks back and have followed me all that way to talk to me. I guess they think it’s a compliment they were that committed to come after me. For me it’s terrifying and unhinged.”- Own-Bridge4210
“The maintenance guy at a condo I now rent out still thinks I’m a rude bitch for not wanting to talk to him first time we met, which was me alone walking a puppy at a park across the street from the condos. Never properly introduced himself or anything, just starts asking me if I’m new and which unit I moved into.
Alarm bells were flying off in my head at this guy who was clearly over 20yrs my senior asking where exactly I live and then he got extremely butthurt over me ignoring him and walking away.”- Ixi7311
“Any time someone tries really hard to convince me he’s a “nice guy”. Every guy I’ve met that desperately brings it up every chance he gets isn’t usually very nice. It always makes me wonder what are they trying to hide? Like why do I have to think you’re nice? Prove it with your actions, don’t tell me repeatedly.”- ElectricPinkMango
“I had a taxi driver hit on me, question me about my love life and ask for my number. I was literally locked in a moving vehicle with the guy, how are you supposed to feel safe saying no?! Luckily, I think he was just a nice clueless guy so I felt safe enough to negotiate and take his number instead of giving mine out.”- ineedapostrophes
It’s been said before that humor that mocks normative values can be funny only “if the humor is non-threatening.”
Truth be told, however, most of us known when sexist humor is more harmful than it is funny. According to Research Gate “jokes targeting women were perceived to be less funny, more offensive, and more sexist than jokes targeting men. Additionally, greater perceptions of threat were related to greater perceptions of jokes as offensive and sexist. However, women were not more threatened than men by sexist jokes. While these findings were not entirely consistent with our hypotheses, our findings suggest disparagement humor targeting lower-status groups is perceived more negatively than disparagement humor targeting higher-status groups and these perceptions may be inextricably rooted in threat posed to lower-status groups.”
Women and men of Reddit seem to be able to understand this truth because recently, they’ve been taking these jokes and calling them out for what they are: ridiculous and not so funny.
Check it out below!
“Downplaying how horrible periods can be. I’ve seen so many men act like women are being babies on their period and it’s just enraging.”- OverallDisaster
“To couple with this: downplaying our emotions because of periods. Anger or sadness can’t possibly be because of a bad situation, it it must be because sHe’S oN HeR pErIoD.”- InnocenceMySister
“Literally. And it’s funny because the hormone that increases during a woman’s period that apparently makes them so “emotional” is testosterone.
Edit- My comment has been getting a lot of upvotes so I just want to take this opportunity to tell you all this. I know it can be hard being a woman and things can feel really bleak/tiresome sometimes (especially since it’s 2021 and we haven’t made nearly as much progress as we should have in regards to gender issues) but just remember to keep your head up. Things won’t be like this forever. They have to improve. Hopefully.”- aetnaaa
“I have pcos which also causes painful periods. Before I knew I had it, I never understood how other women could just “get used to” having periods. Lots of women also downplay how bad periods can be because they don’t know how painful some of our periods really are.”- tropicalparadise27
“Oh man and the first time a cyst ruptures… you’re laying on the bathroom floor thinking this is the end ans now you die and why didn’t I clean the bathroom more since this is where my body will be found.”- TaysteePotayto
“Same thing happened to me dude. I was in college, my roomate thought I was dying and I was like naw, don’t you also vomit till the point of fainting crying because of the knives in your intestines on your period? Not normal I guess.”- porkbunasaurus
“Or when women with easier periods act like other women are lying! I’m very lucky and have never had a difficult period, it’s light with very few symptoms. But that doesn’t mean that I doubt other women when they share their experiences. Just because mine is generally okay doesn’t mean that others don’t have excruciating pain.”- shadesofpink44
“Everyone has different experiences so I can only share mine. I get PMS about a week before I start and I start to get irrationally irritated or sad. Sometimes my boobs hurt or I can’t go to the bathroom for several days. I actually get super hungry the few days before too. Then when I start my period I have horrible cramps in my pelvic region and lower stomach. Sometimes they’re so bad they take my breath away. Sometimes they wake me up in the middle of the night and they’re so bad I could cry. I also have (TMI) really bad digestive issues and constantly have to go to the bathroom. I also get migraines with mine + sometimes that causes nausea. Not to mention the fact it’s uncomfortable having to wear a pad or tampon which can cause irritation. For me the first two days of mine are super heavy so I’m bleeding a lot, and the more you bleed the worse your cramps are. Its bad when you start bleeding a lot and you stand up and it all just gushes out. It’s just honestly horrible for me, especially the first two days but then mine kind of tapers off and gets better, but mine used to last up to a week. I can’t say I block it out as I’m very aware of the pain but I try to take pain medication, wear comfy clothes, use a heating pad if necessary. Sorry this might all be TMI lol, but there’s just so much going on and I think it’s good to build awareness about it!
As far as tips the biggest thing is just to be understanding and patient, never diminishing someone’s experience or pain. I also like when guys don’t act grossed out by it, to me it’s a sign of maturity when a man is able to listen and have an open conversation about it.”- OverallDisaster
“Indeed, I think that as a society we’re starting to grapple with the fact that pedophilia is far more common than people assumed. I remember that I was started to be catcalled at 11 and my teens and early 20’s were the highest, and now in my 40’s never happens and is awesome. Men know they’re sexually harassing children, and get away with it because people turn a blind eye, blame the kid, or chose the believe the obvious lie of: I had no idea she’s 12, she looks like a woman, I couldn’t tell her age, like wtf?!
“Yeah, it’s absolutely insane. I remember getting catcalled (very aggressively) as a 7th grader by grown ass men. I always thought it was because I looked older until I recently saw a picture of 12 year old me. Nope, looked like a child. I was utterly shocked, sad and disgusted at the same time.”-Shaboinker2
“This, just today I was catcalled and basically harassed to the point where I had to step back inside my house. I was simply standing in the front yard with my kids. That’s all I was doing.”- HumanAdhesiveness360
“That’s not it except for especially shitty guys.
It’s more likely that the men in question have had little to no experience with women and thus don’t have enough samples to distinguish between friendliness and flirting.
Plus, a shy woman’s flirting might be less obvious than an outgoing woman’s friendliness, so if they had a shy girlfriend before their calibration could be skewed.
Or they could just be interested and made a move in the hopes of success without assuming anything. Men have to approach frequently to get dates, so asking out literally anyone you find attractive is a fairly common strategy.
Men aren’t a monolith any more than women are and there are loads of explanations that don’t require the guy to be an asshole. Most of the time, the dude’s probably just lonely.”- Odinh153
“The way the medical community approaches female reproductive health in general is awful. A close friend wants to get sterilized because she already has two kids, gets awful depression during pregnancy, and post partum depression that makes her suicidal. She’s happy with her family and out of genuine concern for her daughters, wants to be sterilized so she can be the best mum possible to them. Basically no long-acting contraceptive methods are suitable for her… IUDs either cause persistent bleeding or keep dropping out, implants cause awful bleeding for months etc etc…
But my partner called up a vasectomy clinic, booked an appointment on the phone, and it was done in under a week. No questions asked, no “what if you change your mind”… my friend’s life is genuinely at risk if she gets pregnant again, and it would leave two kids without a mother, but years of trying can’t get her what a man can have for asking once.”- kellerae
“It is infuriating how women are treated during childbirth. Actually abused in other countries.
Also, what I hate is that women always say, well “it hurt but it’s okay”; usually when their tear or episiotomy is stitched up with either no local anesthetic or an insufficient amount. No, it is not okay! Would a man have a vasectomy without anesthetic?
Really annoying how we are expected to grin and bear it.”- Suse-
“I just went to the GP to get an extension for my time off work after having ovarian cyst removed. The male gp said to me “I used to be really stingy about giving time off work to my patients until I got a really bad chest infection myself” I was a bit taken aback in his comparison of a bad cold to my abdominal surgery.”- camelsdonthavetoes
“inappropriate behavior from men, especially from a young age. If a boy hits a little girl he “just likes her”. That little boy grows up thinking there’s no repercussion for violence, and keeps hitting women. The cycle just goes on.”-professional_joe
“I know way too many women who think it’s normal to have to do most of the housework and childcare, plus the mental and emotional load of household management, even if they also have an outside job. Also to manage their husbands as if they are children who can’t be expected to remember to make appointments or buy their own clothes or things for the children or holidays or take care of menial tasks without reminders and help.”-FranzLuciferdinand
“My mum managed my dad a lot when I was a kid, but he has genuine problems remembering things, and fortunately I internalized it as ‘Dad can’t remember things so Mom keeps track for him’, instead of believing that all wives manage their husband’s schedule and that’s the natural way of things. He did his fair share around the house and also in our housing co-op. Now that I’m older it makes me sad to know that my parents’ fairly equal arrangement is not the norm.”- ohdearsweetlord
”dressing little girls in a way that makes it difficult for them to move around. your four year old should not miss out on valuable play because she doesn’t want to mess up her clothes or hair. her appearance should be the last freaking thing on her mind. it makes me so angry to see little girls having to sit on the sidelines while their brothers and male cousins play rambunctiously because their parents put them in a dress and expensive shoes. i hate the bullshit propaganda that little girls “naturally” prefer playing quietly indoors and/or alone. sure, it may be true for some little girls (just like it’s also true for some little boys), but you cannot tell me that socialisation doesn’t play a massive role in what kind of play children “naturally” prefer.”-parezcounapina