Social media platforms serve as vehicles of strength and support where many women are able to share their sexual assault stories. Recently, however, the stream of instagram posts from sexual assault victims are not the only ones flooding my timeline; since victims have been emerging on social media channels, a new generation of “soft boys” are also starting to make an appearance.
“Soft boys,” a term popularized by another social media platform TikTok, appease women by revealing their sensitive side long enough for her to have sex with him, regardless of whether or not his feelings for her are genuine.
Increasingly, it has become common to show support for a victim by reposting survivor stories or commenting niceties under posts. While sharing survivor stories is a very vulnerable action that warrants support and acceptance from the public, comments by “soft boys” on social media platforms are not cutting it.
Their words usually sound something like this:
“You are so strong.”
“I’m sorry this happened to you.”
“Thank you for sharing your story.”
While those are appropriate responses when engaging in a conversation about sexual assault, continued support is what is lacking from these individuals. It can be difficult to watch a survivor cope with the effects of sexual assault for an extended period of time. Therefore, it is crucial to remember that although the event may have happened a long time ago, it does not mean that the pain has dissipated. Continued support requires you check in with the survivor to remind them that you care about them and believe their story. And even though you may be a strong supporter, it does not mean you are suited to manage someone else’s health. So, it is equally important to become familiar with resources you can recommend to a survivor.
That being said, it was still hard to explain why “soft boys” (being a fairly new trend) were so familiar to me. After doing some research and speaking with my female friends, we realized that “soft boys” have always existed.
In movies. In television shows. At school. At the supermarket.
The only difference is that, now, we have a name for them.
If you are having trouble picturing “soft boys,” here are a few examples:
It’s Ross Geller from Friends.
It’s Peter Kavinsky from To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before.
It’s Diego Torres from 13 Reasons Why.
It’s Gabriel Maddox from How to Get Away with Murder.
I hope you see “soft boys’ for what they are.
I hope you understand that “soft boys” are just another way of accepting subtle misogyny. We are cloaking society’s hatred for women behind jokes about feminism. When will we be okay with educating our sons rather than scaring our daughters? Why are we constantly minimizing the pain that women feel on a daily basis?
I am tired of seeing characters in TV shows perpetuate the idea that feminism is radicalism; that treating women with respect and kindness is something to be laughed at or even worse — applauded.
Girl Museum Inc.