The internet can be quite deceiving at times. This is probably because most articles on Google were researched using Google—the essence of the topic eventually lost among citations. Femboys, for starters, are one of the latest misinterpreted ‘internet phenomenon’ and here at Screen Shot, we believe it is time to bust myths regarding their lifestyle.
As an attempt, we spoke to Seann Altman, a TikTok influencer famous for his fashionable shoots and transformational edits. Freshly graduated from CSUF in musical theatre, Altman was quick to find his place in the pandemic-hit fashion world with a support system he swears by. Amassing over 2.8 million likes to his credit, Altman admits to having grown up loving Hello Kitty and everything feminine to a point where he felt isolated among his male friends who talked girls and football. Fast-forwarding to a time which believes femboys are a new ‘phenomenon’, Altman pledges to set things right with the lifestyle, once and for all.
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A femboy is a feminine man—a person who identifies as a man and who has multiple feminine attributes that can be expressed in how he acts, dresses, and lives his life. There have been different thoughts about femboys on the internet. For example, when I say the words ‘femboy’ and ‘feminine man’, two different images pop up in your head. Femboys are basically feminine men, just like there are feminine girls and masculine girls. So, when you use the word ‘feminine man’ to explain a femboy it gives people a better idea that he’s just a boy who’s also feminine.
There is no specific way to visually identify a femboy just like there is no specific way to visually identify someone who is gay or straight. As a feminine male, I dress more feminine. Sometimes I wear skirts or dresses and even put on makeup because it makes me feel good and it is fun. Sometimes I don’t feel like dressing up and I’m in my pajamas all day, but that doesn’t make me any less of a feminine man. I have always been very feminine. I grew up playing with dolls and always playing with toys that were ‘made for girls’. Being feminine is a part of who I am and sometimes I express that feminine part of myself in the way I dress. But how I dress is not the only feminine attribute I have. I am just a feminine person. Just like how some girls are more feminine than others. You could say I am just more feminine than most men.
Trying to label someone by their appearance is extremely problematic in itself. Gender is a social construct that developed from western religion and countries that colonised societies where only two genders were permitted. The belief that heterosexuality is the ‘holy’ sexuality impacted how we view sexuality and gender now. You can’t tell what someone identifies as just by looking at them. The only way to really know someone’s identity is to ask them personally.
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Everything is sexualised, what’s different about me? Sex is all over the media. Look everywhere and you will see everyone being sexualised. Sex sells. That’s how the entertainment industry makes a lot of their money. I don’t see any negative connotation about ‘femboy Hooters’. If anything, it’s more positive because it’s being more inclusive of other communities of people. Why should ‘Hooters’ exist only to sexualise women? That is what is problematic. We are all allowed to be considered beautiful and sexual beings.
However, there is a difference between being sexualised versus being fetishised. Fetishisation is a power dynamic between the sex object and the consumer. The fetishiser seeks out a specific type of person to fulfill a fantasy they may have. Being fetishised to the point where one minority is specifically sought out for only sexual purposes is wrong. For example, there are a lot of forums on Reddit for femboys where some men go like “I would never be in a relationship with a femboy but I would have sex with one.” Even though the conversation is on the down-low, it’s wrong. We are all people and shouldn’t be treated like we are just objects of sex. Sex is by human nature, natural, and people will have their personal preferences, but there is always a line that shouldn’t be crossed.
The existence of femboys is not some new phenomenon. Feminine men have always been around. In social media recently the femboy ‘idea’ has been appropriated by cis-gendered straight men when it originated in the LGBTQ+ community. For example, a lot of cishet men have been wearing skirts and dresses on TikTok and on social media to gain ‘clout’ and have received much praise. For gay and other queer folks, it is a lifestyle that endangers them when they live their truth in a world that does not accept them. This is not to say that cishet men cannot be feminine, but it is problematic to paint them as pioneers in a ‘movement’ when it was not invented for or by them in the first place.
They are not a ‘new rendition’ of masculinity either. There is masculine and feminine energy and then you can have a mix of the two. Toxic masculinity is a learned practice through patriarchal systems. It is upheld by heterosexuality and is ultimately tied to western religion and colonisation. Not one community is at the forefront of toxic masculinity either. The LGBTQ+ community, feminists among others have been trying to dismantle it for years.
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For the most part, I get a lot of positive feedback. Many people are kind and leave sweet comments expressing their support and love of my sense of style or my personality.
Some people are confused. They might ask “Why are you wearing a dress?” or “If you are a man why are you dressed like a girl?” And just to put it out there, it is okay to dress and express yourself however you want. There is no rule that says I can’t wear clothing generally made for women if I so choose, just because I identify as male. I also get some negative and hateful comments from homophobic people. These hate comments might try to force their religion on me and my life choices. Some comments are really mean and express their disgust and hatred of the way I choose to express myself.
I just brush off the hate I get online. Those who don’t like me can leave. I’m going to live my life the way I want. And to all my supporters, I appreciate you all so much. The positive comments and support I get from the media I post online really helps me block out the haters and encourages me to continue being myself and sharing it with the world.
My advice would be to stop being afraid of yourself and literally be who you are because it is the most liberating thing to do. Explore your feminine traits and explore your masculine ones too. We all have a little of both. No one has to fit into this box or societal standard of what it means to be a boy or a girl. Being a feminine man is a part of who someone is. It is a lifestyle and it’s always been a part of me, but I wasn’t always able to fully express that feminine side of myself until more recently when I let go of my inhibitions. I felt entrapped by the social norms that were placed upon me and it wasn’t until I stopped caring about what other people thought of me that I grew into the person I am today.
I hate labels and ‘femboy’ is just another label for people to consume. But labels aren’t going to disappear anytime soon. It’s how society applies identity to people, places, and pretty much everything. So I identify as a gay man who dresses feminine, that’s it. If that means I am a femboy then so be it. Just be yourself and dress however you want without worrying about anyone else but yourself.
This myth-busting session with Altman truly has been an enriching one. What we thought we knew about the lifestyle from the internet is far from reality. And as Altman believes, labels aren’t going to disappear anytime soon. So let’s know everything there is about one and use it in the right context, starting now.