Friday, September 21, 2012

The reason for the blog


I have, for a long time, considered myself a nice guy.

Please, relax, let me explain.

What people conceive as a nice guy --hell, what Wikipedia conceives as a nice guy-- is not what I strive to be. 

So, for this first post, I would like to distinguish my personal definition from the ones that are sometimes assumed and accepted.

On Wikipedia, a nice guy is defined as "a term in the general public discourse and in popular culture describing an adult or teenage male with friendly yet unassertive personality traits in the context of a relationship with a woman." I get where this stereotype comes from. And I think it is fair to say that, although this was found on Wikipedia, there is some validity to the thought that this interpretation is generally accepted. However, it also is unfortunate that being a 'nice guy' immediately puts you in an 'unassertive box'. This Wikipedia article continues defining a nice guy, saying that a "typical nice guy believes in putting the needs of others before his own, avoids confrontations, does favors, gives emotional support, tries to get out of trouble, and generally acts nicely towards women." This further explanation 

Second, and the definition that bothers me the most, is the stereotyping and massive generalization by the feminist community. I consider myself to be a moderate feminist. However, there are certain beliefs that are clearly not based in generalities, rather than logical evidence. The one that frustrates me the most is 'nice guy syndrome'. Right off the bat, the negative feeling associated with the word 'syndrome' begins to seep in. Then, when you read further, it gets worse, fast.  Rather than spell it out in my own words, just look (from Geek Feminism Wiki): 

Nice guy is a term in Internet discourse describing an adult or teenage male with a fixation on seducing women by being nice to them, most stereotypically by providing a woman with emotional support when she is having difficulties with another male partner.
There are, broadly, three schools of thought about Nice Guys™:
  1. that they are are victims of women's irrationality or cruelty, in that women say that they want "nice guys" but in fact preferring to have relationships with "jerks" or "alpha [alpha males]"
  2. that they are using a failed seduction strategy and need to learn or be taught to be alphas or seducers, seePick Up Artists
  3. that the Nice Guy strategy of "doing things for someone so that she will have sex with me, because women do or should reward niceness with sex" is a sexist construction, of which more below

The terms Nice Guy™ and nice guy syndrome are used to describe men who view themselves as prototypical "nice guys," but whose "nice deeds" are in reality only motivated by attempts to passively please women into a relationship and/or sex.

The video to the right is of a popular YouTuber 'JennaMarbles', who also backs this interpretation as a defining trait of all so-called 'nice guys'. 

Okay, where do I start? Nice guys are only nice for the purposes of seducing women. Frustration: check. Nice guys take advantage of women by providing them with emotion support. Irritation: check. Nice guys are insecure, in that they believe women say they want 'nice guys', but go after jerks. Annoyance: check. And the kicker, all nice deeds by 'nice guys are solely motivated by an intention to have a relationship or sex with a woman. A little bit of resentment: check.

Let me start by saying this: I agree that plenty of guys fit the two aforementioned stereotypes and call themselves 'nice guys'. But those aren't genuinely nice guys. Also, from the feminist point of view, I think the generalization being made about all men not being capable of being nice for any reason other than seduction is both counter-productive and hypocritical. It's these kinds of silly stereotypes against women that are the reason for feminism to exist.

Because of the definitions the world has made for the 'nice guy', I am borderline ashamed to call myself one in public, not that I generally would or feel the need to. But the fact remains: these stereotypes provide a roadblock for men trying to be progressive, anti-misogynistic, and generally positive. Although there is validity to the opinions held by most parties about men who masquerade themselves as 'nice guys', I think that these stereotypes should be distinguished from what it actually, in theory, means to be a nice guy.

In simple terms, nice guy is combination of two different words: 'nice' and 'guy'. Guy, in this case, should be able to be substituted with the female counterpart, 'girl'. This comes out as 'nice girl'. The mere fact that this phrase does not have the kinds of connotations made about a nice guy is a reflection of an underlying hypocrisy. That the two words that make up 'nice guy' are morphed into something more than what they actually mean. This is to say that someone referring to themselves as a nice girl has little to no definitional relationship with someone defining themselves as a nice guy.

To me, being nice does not imply anything about gender. I think it is unfortunate that this has been attached to it for men. In reality, being nice, to me, is about doing considerate, often virtually unselfish things that benefit oneself or others (Notice: there is no indication here that the object of these unselfish deeds be of any particular gender, which I believe is just another unnecessary stereotype about nice guys. A nice girl can be nice to both men and women, but a nice guy is only nice to women? This also seems fishy..). And 'guy', in this case, is simply a culturally defining term for a person of the male gender. Perhaps it would be better to call myself a nice man. But that really isn't my point. My point is that it is unfortunate that a nice guy is made out to be so much more (or, more appropriately, so much less), than a 'nice person', when the only difference is a gender specification.

I know people are going to disagree with me, but I just think that generalizations like this are unfair, especially to the minority of men who consider themselves nice guys for what I would consider the 'right reasons'. To be a nice guy is not inherently a 'syndrome'. No, the implication is quite the opposite. A nice guy is not inherently unassertive, unlikable, trying to seduce, or using 'niceness' as an excuse for a lack of success at becoming a part of relationships with women. A nice guy is inherently one thing, and one thing only:

A. Nice. Guy.

And by that definition, I'm proud to be one.

Anonymous Nice Guy