I see that piny beat me to the punch on commenting on Amanda’s post encompassing “Nice Guys,” Hugo’s advice to a young man in his class who was disappointed that feminism wasn’t getting him laid, and McBoing’s post excoriating Hugo for the advice, and a bunch of comments batting about the whole “Nice Guy” phenomenon.
Some truisms: Feminism isn’t a dating service.
If a guy refers to himself as a “Nice Guy,” chances are he isn’t.
If a self-styled “Nice Guy” complains that the reason he can’t get laid is that women only like “jerks” who treat them badly, chances are he’s got a sense of entitlement on him the size of the Unisphere.
The advice given to “Nice Guys” on how to get women tends to be of the “there’s something wrong with women, so you’re justified in treating them badly because that’s what they really want” type. The advice given to “nice girls” who are having trouble attracting men tends to be of the “there’s something wrong with YOU, so put on some makeup, lose some weight, fix your hair and submerge your real personality because men are justified in overlooking you” type.
Guys who consider themselves “Nice Guys” tend to see women as an undifferentiated mass rather than as individuals. They also tend to see possession of a woman as a prize or a right.
I think that Heartless Bitches International has pretty much the definitive rundown on the “Nice Guy” phenomenon.
You may notice I’m putting “Nice Guy” in scare quotes. That’s because, like I said, they tend not to be nice at all — they just have an outsized sense of entitlement and are frustrated that they don’t have the looks or the confidence to get women despite their shortcomings in the personality department.
That, and I don’t know how to make the trademark sign.
They’re also a far different animal than the Good Guy, the Decent Guy, the Salt of the Earth, or, my personal favorite, the Good Man. Because I am old enough that I’m not really looking for a “guy” anymore. From Say Anything:
D.C.: Lloyd, why do you have to be like this?
Lloyd Dobler: ‘Cause I’m a guy. I have pride.
Corey Flood: You’re not a guy.
Lloyd Dobler: I am.
Corey Flood: No. The world is full of guys. Be a man. Don’t be a guy.
As discussions like this happen, inevitably someone gets defensive about the idea that “Nice Guys” are really assholes in disguise, because there are plenty of guys (and girls) who are actually very decent and respectful, just perhaps too shy to make the first move, and so on, and that they may appear to be “Nice Guys” even when they’re not. I think Foolish Owl’s comment over at Pandagon really summed up why that kind of argument, which had been going on for some time there, was futile, and provided a field guide for spotting the “Nice Guy” in the wild:
For the two hundredth time, when we’re talking about “nice guys,” we’re not talking about guys who are actually nice but suffer from shyness. That’s why the scare quotes. Try Nice Guys™ instead, if you prefer.
A shy, but decent and caring man is quite likely to complain that he doesn’t get as much attention from women as he’d like. A Nice Guy™ will complain that women don’t pay him the attention he deserves. The essence of the distinction is that the Nice Guy™ feels women are obligated to him, and the Nice Guy™ doesn’t actually respect or even like women. The clearest indication of which of the two you’re dealing with is whether the person is interested in the possibility that he’s doing something wrong. A Nice Guy™ will insist that he’s doing everything perfectly right, and that women won’t subordinate themselves to him properly because he’s “Too Nice™,” meaning that he believes women deserve cruel treatment and he would like to be the one executing the cruelty.
I dated a “Nice Guy” for a while. It was suffocating. I never felt like I could relax and just be myself around him, because he had constructed some kind of idealized version of me, and that was who he was dating. He was also damned hard to get rid of.
I’m looking for a Good Man right now, a Decent Sort. That doesn’t mean he can’t have a wicked sense of humor or that he has to be dull. But it does mean he has to respect me and value me as an individual. And, God, no pedestals.
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