From James Dean and James Cagney, to Bobby Brown and Lil’ Wayne, the Bad Boy Complex has been a part of American culture for as long as there has been such a thing as American culture. And as a cultural and social phenomenon it has been highly problematic at times. But the good news is that since the Bad Boy Complex is not new, we should have a great deal of insight and even hard data to draw from to gain a firm understand of it. But there is also bad news, and the bad news is that despite the fact that we have a great deal of insight and even hard data to draw from to gain a firm understanding of it we STILL don’t know how to manage some of the problematic consequences of the Bad Boy complex.
There is a distinct possibility that this is one of those problems that really cannot be solved because the sliding scale and shifting goal-posts of human sexuality and psychology render an already complicated issue an outright impossible issue. A lot has been written on this topic over the years and some it has even been worth reading, but I am going to give it a shot here because I have two daughters of my own and if this asshole pictured above even pulled into my driveway he’d be as dead as fucking fried chicken. He could buck if he wanted to, but that prison thug bullshit brings no currency to a man who knows who he is. But this piece is not about how I would respond to this clown, it is about how any woman with any significant value would. Because let’s be honest: if all the LaQuishas in Compton spread for this porch-monkey nobody gives a fuck. But it is when women with exposure and legitimate options find themselves doing the stop-drop-and roll with him that we have a real social crisis on our hands. Because whether we want to believe it or not, assholes like this tend to breed little assholes that are going to be running around when dudes like me are too old to do anything about it or even care. And it seems like we are a dying breed while his kind are proliferating- in both image and substance.
A discussion like this demands a definition of terms for the insights to have any value, so here goes: The “Bad Boy complex” is the attraction reflex that (many) women have to men who appear to be dangerous or forbidding figures in society. It manifests itself in different degrees, but the general proposition holds up: men who appear to “play by different rules” than the norms established by mainstream society get extra credit from women when it comes to women extending access to themselves. Of course, the problem is that when you “play by different rules” it is only a matter of time before it becomes obvious that your rules aren’t worth shit and the real rules trump that street bullshit every day of the week and twice on Sunday. And so the woman who has attached herself to this “bad boy” can wind up stuck with the reality that it was all just as fake as that Tupac hologram that concert promoters thought they could use to drain just a little bit more off of this particular “bad boy” after his request for an early check-out was granted.
One of the main reasons why the “bad boy complex” rises to the level of social crisis is that it often disrupts the path of the winning horses. Here’s a hard reality that women just have to accept: If a man has his shit together, he probably isn’t going to be down for letting you settle into the good life with him after you have had these assholes and animals jumping up and down on you like monkeys in the goddamned zoo from age 19 to 29. Mind you, this man has his shit together so he probably is disinclined to ask you any specific questions about where you have been or who you have been with because slut-shaming in all of its forms is played out for men of a certain caliber. However, the real problem is that women can so often be indiscrete, misguided and political about how hey wield their pussy-power that they just tell on themselves with unsolicited disclosures and superfluous commentary. How in the hell else would he know about where you’ve been unless you decided to make a public announcement or a campaign commercial?
Example: if you are an impressive woman who appears to have HER shit together, you can blow your appeal to hell in an instant with an off-handed confession of an Allen Iverson fetish. That is rough, but its real. I don’t have anything against A.I. In fact as an occasional sports viewer, I liked his game back in the day. But baby, if you just announced that you’ve been inclined toward having A.I. types all up your ass, then the man of substance in front of you ain’t likely to follow them up there. He’ll probably take a pass- because he can. So if that has been your thing but you discovered that you outgrew it at least have sense enough to be discrete. It was your private, personal business but you decided to make a political campaign out of it and made it his business. So the cost of the “bad boy complex” may be far higher than you may have considered. That may not be fair, but its real. Now that you’ve read this you can’t ever claim you weren’t warned.
The other main reason why the “bad boy complex” is a social problem is because it can lead men (usually when they are still boys) to modify who they are to fit what they see that women respond to. Look at the tattoo phenomenon and the havoc it has wreaked on the professional prospects of young men- young black men especially. All of these young men have voluntarily marginalized themselves by going nuts with the ink and now there is absolutely no way in hell that they will ever be able to compete for the biggest prizes in an open and competitive workforce. All because they saw women creaming their panties over Tupac and A.I. and those fucking tattoos- and they really really wanted some of that cream- just a little bit- for themselves. This type of thing can happen very easily if a young man is not extremely well grounded in his personal values and identity. Chris Rock used to joke about black men getting more love coming out of the penitentiary than coming home from graduating college. We laughed when he said it because we know damned well that in some of our circles that is bizarre reality.
If I were inclined to offer up the most benign and innocuous explanation for why the “bad boy complex” has endured so strong for so long, I would give you this: In the deepest part of themselves, human beings desperately want freedom. For women, that means attaching themselves to men that appear to be free- and that appearance of freedom manifests in looking, acting, and sounding like somebody dangerous or objectionable to the established institutions in our society- like someone who does not give a damn about rules, rule makers or consequences. The woman’s perspective that he “plays by his own rules” means he MUST be free. That will look different in different contexts and the image of the “bad boy” may shift around over the decades but that is at the core of the identity. So as a woman evolves and becomes more sophisticated and fully formed, her vision of what it really takes to be free in our world sharpens- and her tastes often shift according to that evolution. Sometimes her tastes don’t shift at all, only her selections but that is a subject for another piece. For now just be sure of the fact that this is an emotional response, not a cerebral one. The need and desire to feel protected by representations of strength is evident in little girls, but an accurate understanding of the true operation and manifestation of strength is something that is always tied to a woman’s development from the neck up- then what she responds to from the neck down invariably follows.
∞ Thanks again for checking in- Do your thing today and I’ll see you tomorrow π