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Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Sad boys and sadbois

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“I’m a sadboi! Who are you? Are you a sadboi, too?”

There are sad boys, and then there are sadbois.

It turns out there is a world of difference between the two. This middle-aged tita only learned it recently, after being enlightened by members of Generations Y and Z.

Sad boys are just that – guys who wear their heart on their sleeves. They are the sensitive, emotional ones who are just so in touch with their feelings and who are uninhibited in expressing them. It’s not really a group or a category. They are simply boys who happen to be sad. Like girls could be sad. Like anybody could be sad. Like anybody could be anything.

“This isn’t like emo?” I asked.

No, because emo is more about aesthetics, I was told by a development worker in his late 20s. “It’s more of a preference for a certain hairstyle, clothing, music.”

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Of course, emo is so 15 years ago. But sadboi is not a new name for emo, either.

Said one Gen Z kid, a university freshman, sadbois are those who play the guilt card on others so they can earn their sympathy.

“Pa-victim, manipulative, ganon,” he added. For example, they tell their partners they would kill themselves if they ever broke up. Or, when pursuing someone, would tell them how badly their exes treated them so they would not get rejected or similarly treated.

Another student, a college junior, said to be a sadboi is a negative thing. She defined the word by mentioning the name of a specific person who she thinks best illustrates the word.

Mind you, while it’s the younger generations who came up with the term, sadbois can take many forms, ages – and political orientations.

•••

This talk about sadbois comes up in the context of the elections and, more broadly, of our perception of gender roles in society.

Unfortunately, our country that claims to have made big gains in equality still has a long way to go in how we see women and resist generations-old biases against them.

Playing the sadboi card is one way some people get away with – and display – misogyny and bigotry. It’s a new name but the tactic has been used for a long time.

For example, a woman doing her job well despite the odds can easily earn the ire of her make counterparts. The sadbois then portray her as grabbing credit, upstaging them, and making them look incompetent.

If she trounces her opponents, the sadbois cry to the high heavens that they were cheated and will devote their time and resources contesting the results. If it comes to pass that her victory is affirmed – and by an even larger margin – the sadbois reject this and go around proclaiming that they were cheated.

If a woman consistently shows she is competent or better than the rest of the spoiled, mediocre lot, the sadbois will stoop so low and criticize her for completely unrelated or irrelevant issues, or fabricate stories to mar her – or her loved ones’ – reputation.

Some men whose partners excel in their fields play the sadboi by guilt-tripping them – they tell them that their pursuits are selfish, and that they are being neglectful of their duties to the family.

And when these men are called out for their brutish ways, they resort to telling their own sad stories, or say they are hurt, or turn the story around so that they are now the victim – as if these attempts excuse and justify their behavior.

Sadbois are not just sad boys. There is a sinister element to how they carry themselves – the intent to manipulate and bring down other people. The truth is, anybody – male, female or otherwise – can be good, just as anybody can be not too good. But if we still somehow believe that it is men’s lot to lead and dominate because it is in their nature to be “strong,” and consequently women are better suited for supporting roles because they do not manifest strength as men do, then we have a serious problem. We have to at least be humble enough to allow these mindsets to be challenged, if not completely broken.

Sadbois – actually overgrown babies of whatever age – make lousy friends, partners, and government leaders. Let’s expose sadbois for who and what they truly are.

adellechua@gmail.com

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