Not Like the Other Boys: Songs That Enable Softboys

Amanda Jagus

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By now, the term softboy has become a ubiquitous part of millennial vernacular. Popular discourse hypothesizes that the softboy is the antithesis of the f-boy. However, I argue that softboys are the “sensitive‰” foils to f-boys that wield their emotions in a different, yet still destructive manner. Which begs the question, why are they like this? What empowers softboys to drain women of their emotional labor, while maintaining that “they are bad people‰” without doing anything to own up to the fact? Who gave them a “not like the other boys complex?‰” I spend a lot of time thinking about what made me think I was not like the other girls, and why not being like the other girls was cool. Some may say, “Amanda, are you projecting?‰’‰” The answer is yes, absolutely. Regardless, I‰’m deep diving into songs that enable this special type of misogyny.

“Teenage Dirtbag‰Û- Wheatus

A popular 90s romp, “Teenage Dirtbag‰” tells a story of the coveted girl next door her macho boyfriend that doesn‰’t like Iron Maiden. This song is a perfect example of “nice‰’‰” guys assuming that girls only like to date men who are rude and exude toxic masculinity. Moreover, this is where we can find the roots of the friendzone and its trappings. The friendzone is make-believe world made up by guys who think they should get a prize (read, the girl) just because they are decent to their friends. When in reality, maybe it‰’d be better if men just valued their female friends, but Wheatus wouldn‰’t let us have that.

“Out Of My League‰” ‰ÛÒ Fitz and the Tantrums

A classic soft boy song that would be the perfect soundtrack to a montage in a Michael Cera movie. The montage would include clips of a manic pixie dream girl of sorts, with colored streaks in her hair and beat up combat boots rescuing the said softboy from his own mediocrity. Cut to scenes of her eyelashes and smudged black eyeliner, the two running through a grocery store, playing him some of her favorite records, and cutting his hair in the bathroom of her loft that was an actually an old bread factory converted into apartments. Don‰’t forget to top it all off the Michael Cera type will make sure to assert that she is ‰Not like the other girls‰’ as if that is a compliment.

“Why‰’d You Only Call Me When You‰’re High‰” ‰ÛÒ The Arctic Monkeys

A classic off of their album AM, Why‰’d You Only Call Me When You‰’re High a double-sided coin. The first is the careless softboy that calls or texts girls only when they have drifted from the edges of sobriety and need a shoulder to rest their soft heads on. The other side, is the girl completely done with Trevor from her Politics in the US class calling her at 3 am on Wednesday nights. Regardless, leaving multiple missed calls on somebody‰’s phone isn‰’t healthy or respectful, maybe try leaving a voicemail?

All the Pretty Girls ‰ÛÒ Kaleo

“All the pretty girls like Samuel

Oh, he really doesn‰’t share.‰Û

Ok dude, we get it you have an inferiority complex, that‰’s made apparent by the first two lines of this song. The softboy in this song is revealed line by line. In summation, the singer is pretty butthurt that the girls he loves doesn‰’t love him back so he decides to brood and wait in agony. He‰’s just waiting around until a switch will inevitably turn in this girl‰’s head she decides she‰’s in love with him. If you love someone this much perhaps an alternate route would be to tell her instead of brooding until your inevitable death.

This is only a glimpse to what I postulate enables and shapes younger softboys. Rap and Hip Hop are constantly criticized for the way their music portrays women. However, by looking at music coined as “indie‰” or even “sensitive‰” music it‰’s hard to ignore glaring aspects of misogyny. Is this music the sole reason why softboys exist? Probably not, but it could be a symptom of a larger problem of how women are treated in popular culture.