Is the term 'toyboy' sexist?

Is the term toyboy sexist? [Photo: Getty]
Is the term toyboy sexist? [Photo: Getty]

The term ‘toyboy’ is defined by urban dictionary as the boyfriend of an older woman. But, recently the label has been called out for being sexist.

Helena Bonham Carter, 53, recently went public with her new relationship with the writer Rye Dag Holmboe, who is 21 years her junior, but doesn’t appreciate him being described as her ‘toyboy’.

“Toy boy is a really sexist remark,” she told Sunday Times magazine. “It implies he’s got nothing to offer than his body — which is also fantastic.

“But along with the body, he’s got a great mind and a great humour and that’s what I’m with more than his envelope.”

Vanessa Feltz’s boyfriend, Ben Ofoedu, also has an issue with the term.

The 47-year-old, who is 10 years younger than his partner, says he finds being described as a toyboy as “dehumanising.”

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Appearing on ‘Good Morning Britain’ to debate whether the label was sexist, he said he found the term “objectifying” and thinks it is “disrespectful being called a ‘boy’ as a grown man.”

Although he admits to finding it funny when he first started dating Vanessa, the singer/actor now finds the term offensive.

“When I first started dating Vanessa I had the toyboy thing,” he said. “To tell the truth, at first I just took it as a bit of a joke, I'm 34 and people want to call me a boy?”

“Then when I really thought about it I think it's kind of dehumanising, the word toy just objectifies you and if you're a man and someone's calling you a boy it's kind of disrespecting you.”

He went on to say that he feels the label implies you’re not being taken seriously as a person and said his partner, Vanessa feels the same way about the term.

“I don't think she ever liked it. Vanessa's fiercely intelligent and she knew from the get go. It took me a while to come onboard.

“She goes 'Do you like that term?' We sat down and talked about it and I thought, oh my gosh you're so right.”

Ben was on the show with ‘TOWIE’ star Clare Brockett, 44, who is dating a man five years younger than her and said both her and her boyfriend have no problem with the term.

“He calls himself the toyboy, Dean thinks it's the funniest thing ever to sit there and say 'I'm her toyboy.'

“He calls me his cougar, he teases me about his age. I think it gives him a little ego boost to know he's younger than me."

After the programme aired, the debate continued on Twitter about whether the term was sexist or not.

A few agreed with Ben that the label was offensive.

But most claimed there was nothing wrong with describing someone as a toyboy and that people shouldn’t be so sensitive.

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A similar debate was sparked back in 2017 when it was questioned whether the term ‘girls’ was actually sexist.

The divide was inadvertently started by Sir Roger Gale MP who referred to female staff in his office as ‘girls’ during an interview on Radio 4’s Today programme.

Some accused the comment of being misogynistic, with others claiming it was like harking back to the 1950s.

Those defending the ‘girls’ description highlighted the fact that his female staff refer to themselves as ‘girls’.

What do you think? Is the term ‘toyboy’ sexist? Or is anyone who finds it offensive being overly sensitive?