SelfCare After an Eff Boi-What's At Stake PT.1
On the L train back to Brooklyn, I was toppling over my words trying to tell a friend how disjointed and unhinged I've become. I was nearing a mental break down. I looked up at my friend with sorrowful eyes whispering I feel crazy. Ericka Hart grabbed my hand, scanned my shattered soul with her eyes and affirmingly said, "babe, you're being gaslighted." According to psychologists, gaslighting is a malignant form of persistent psychological manipulation that seeks to sow seeds of doubt in a targeted individual, or in members of a targeted group. This form of sophisticated manipulation causes the victim to question their own memory (memory loss), perception, self-worth, and sanity. Gaslighting undermines the mental and emotional stability of any victim; and anyone can be a victim. We all need friends like Ericka.
At the intersection of dating and community organizing, I endured the similarities of how oppressive people manage their victims. Many men have been socialized to engage with women and femmes in the same way. I found myself trying and failing to convince my then friends (fellow organizers) of the unnecessary emotional roller-coaster, omissions, and a host of other peculiar behavioral traits I later found are indications of emotional and psychological manipulation. Homie was destroying me. To my dismay, the overwhelming response was dismissive of me and protective of him. As if I should've known dating comes with a touch of abuse. Our social buy-in to fuhkboidom has normalized the mistreatment of women in intimate settings in ways that are not acceptable in any other relationship dynamic.
Later that year, I discovered an eerie linage truth. Upon being caught in questionable circumstances, my late father, whom I've always been close to, gaslighted my mother while pregnant avec moi. Research shows stressors and illnesses that women bear are absorbed in the womb affecting the development of the child. Populations who are subjected to higher frequencies of adversities birth offspring who are predisposed to depression, anxiety and other byproducts of stress. In an attempt to absolve himself from accountability, he rewrote reality and put the onus on her, making the act of intimate-partner gaslighting my personal kryptonite. RIP Dad.
A fuhk boi is someone who doesn't regard you with the respect and decency afforded human beings; yet, still expects to get laid, explains AriDy Nox, a scholar, and dear friend. By viewing the casual mistreatment of women as a public health issue, the SelfCare After Series gifts us the language to name the types of beliefs, attitudes, and actions that impeded on our mental and emotional health. Furthermore, we are able to measure the mental, emotional and physiological outcomes of these dating conditions on the victims, perpetrators, and community at large. Our goal is to shift those attributes to co-create a healthier culture rooted in emotional justice. Nonetheless, the psychological and physiological impressions that occur during or after a season with a fuhk boi are dreadful for the survivor. At its worst, 84% of women and their offspring can suffer moderate to severe mental and emotional health issues, some irreversible. For Black and marginalized women, these issues sit on top of already stressful living conditions stemming from racism and other identity specific oppression. Diminishing self-esteem, self-worth, skills, memory, stability, trust, and lifespan are amongst the few aspects of oneself that are damaged after dealing with a fuhk boi long term.
Fuhk bois need intimacy too
Sadly, we've limited intimacy as achievable strictly through sex- versus intimacy forged through vulnerable and meaningful experiences that generate closeness with other people. Like clockwork, the needy man seeks a woman or feminine person to temporarily lay with to obtain human connectedness. This does not apply to all fuck boys. Fuhkbois need closer friendships. Far too often our men seek sexual relations as an entryway into a warm and delicate space where fears and anxieties can be shared, or safe tender moments felt. Spaces that are rarely granted to Black men outside of their community. SelfCare after a fuhk boi begins by re-evaluating what we value; the why and how we show up in our relationships with ourselves, friends, family, community and romantic/sexual partners.
While patriarchy teaches women to put men first, it teaches men to step in front. This arrangement prevents us from living in ways that are mutually beneficial. The rise of raunch culture has not only changed how women are depicted, but also promotes men as mercilessly depreciating women as disposable; even those they pursue. Fuhk bois reserve their most deceptive, manipulative and controlling traits for women they are intimate with. In perfecting what is practiced, this epidemic has bred boys to practice being the worst version of themselves in romantically intimate relationships. When exposed, these fuhk bois deflect, deny or suggest the specific woman lacks the cognitive ability to decipher between tone, gestures, context, language, meaning and other communication tools she uses everywhere else. This behavior often puts men at odds with their personal perception of self. A good guy with sinister tendencies becomes harder and harder to balance. The perfected game playing versus authentic actions leave those men emotionally stunted; lacking the ability to empathize, take accountability, securely love or self-sacrifice.
Fuhkboidom is a science. Our social buy-in to the behaviors and attitudes of fuhk bois formulate cluster b personality disorders; such as narcissism. Narcissists make the emotional and physical violation of their victims normal while expecting their loyalty. This micro-mirroring of how the white establishment routinely engages with Black people and other marginalized identities is forming a natural discord in human relations between masculine and feminine folk. In 1735, African people were “scientifically” declared subhuman by Carolus Linnaeus with “system of racial classification.” Both African women and men were subjected to narcissistic rage and sexual violence. In this context, the practice of fuhk boi behavior embodies the perverse treatment of Black women as odalisque sex objects, not to be treated with human decency or respect. Larger systems of oppression show up in our interpersonal relationships. T'is why amidst corrective education, we must also practice mindfulness as a self/communal healing technique. Mindfulness will heighten awareness of how we as individual people promote violence, exploitation, or powerlessness in our personal lives. All humans require safe and healthy relationships, it ensures the sustainability of a community, culture, and people. Collective mindfulness allows us to see and solve our problems together.
SelfCare After a Fuhk Boi happens with perspective shifts through comprehending the real-time context romantic engagements are happening in. Context is the full circumstance in which a noun takes place. Our context is a society that grooms boys to lie through coercion, facades (seducing others into an illusion), omission, ("telling most of the truth minus one or two key facts whose absence changes the story completely"-Stephanie Ericksson) and other deceptive techniques to get sex or intimacy from women. Our context has also convinced women that betrayal, violence, and infringement on one's overall wellness is an accepted occurrence and thus trivial. The survivorship culture that spun from sensationalizing the governmental manufactured dire circumstances such as “crack” and “war on drugs” that Black American communities were subjected to in the 1980s, lead to the most toxic forms of interacting with one another Black American communities have ever seen. Media skillfully exploits targeted cultures by glamorizing what brings that specific ethnic group dishonor and harm. This misrepresentation allows for out group people to unknowingly offend the marginalized community. Exploited groups must take back control of their narrative and reground their culture in order to improve how they relate to one another; and how the world relates to them.
I believe in love. I believe in sisterhood. I believe in the innate humanity of Black masculinity. I also believe that healing comes from compassion, empathy, accountability and emotional justice. It is my hope that with social justice infused wellness we can rewrite dating rules on what is acceptable behavior and what is not. To quote the rapper Boogie in his song Self Destruction, “this shit stupid, foolish, ruthless and its genius.” My own experience with communal scapegoating as punishment for naming the emotional manipulation that almost destroyed me - positioned me to use my background in social psychology, wellness and social justice to make clear what is at stake if we continue to give into cognitive dissonance by justifying actions we know to be morally wrong. Now that we know what is at stake, the healing can begin.
To be continued.