Any woman who dates men, or has once upon a time dated men, has run into the “nice guy.” The man who hangs out with women, is generally polite, and adheres to the traditional standards of what a “gentleman” is, for the underlying purpose of getting laid. Some “nice guys” expect admiration and love in conjunction with sexy time, some don’t. But the end result of sexing a lady in exchange for basic civility is the fundamental ideology of a “nice guy.” The name comes from the group’s universal battle cry. When a woman doesn’t consent to a man’s naughty parts entering one of her orifices, the dude laments his mediocre effort with a rationale that puts the blame on the entire female gender. “Girls don’t want to date a nice guy like me!”
If you’re reading this article, you probably don’t need this definition. You’ve already met a thousand of these guys. You’ve read trend piece upon trend piece featured on independent lady blogs denouncing the disrespectful attitude these penises attached to humans force on us. This information is not new to you: “nice guys” are awful.
Cat callers objectify women by starring at their asses and yelling out obscenities on a street corner. “Nice guys” objectify women by acting like their vagina is a carnival ride, with a ticket price of a $12 cocktail and holding the door when you leave the bar. They are no better than the guy who yelled “Damn girl! Look those titties!” when you got off the subway this morning.
In fact, the “nice guy” might be worse. On a conscious level because he’s sneaky about it, on an unconscious level because he’s ignorant. He honestly doesn’t realize what he’s doing wrong.
Most women, at some point in time, have felt bad about themselves because of these men. We aren’t breaking any news by acknowledging their existence in Millennial-centric personal essay articles, as worthy of awareness the issue may be.
Now that the whole human race has been made aware of this problem via click-bait headlines and hashtag activism, I’m nervous for two reasons.
First off, I’m nervous for the rare but existent outlier. Call me unrealistic, but I believe in unicorns. I believe in the elusive, mythical creature that is an actual nice guy. Not a “nice guy,” but a man who understands that the door to my bedroom does not have a well-worded, faux-considerate password.
On the other hand, I’m nervous for the “nice guys” that just don’t understand their fault. While insisting on respect from men is a valiant effort, how do we teach these faux-gentlemen how to truly respect women and prevent future generations from continuing this pattern of polite misogyny?
“Nice guy” and nice guy are basically homonyms: the same words with two very different meanings. Women don’t want to date “nice guys,” they want to date nice guys. “Nice guys” aren’t really nice guys. What if nice guys start to believe they’re going about dating all wrong, and that what women really want is a “nice guy” so they stop being a nice guy? “Nice guys” don’t understand the difference between a nice guy and a “nice guy.” How many women are settling for “nice guys” because they believe they’re actually dating a nice guy? How do we teach “nice guys” how to be nice guys?
No wonder everyone is confused.
The objectification of women is hand fed to us every day. It’s in advertising, movies, television shows, everywhere we turn. We’re aware, but effected. While it’s easy to say “nice guys aren’t really nice! They’re actually just assholes!” we have to recognize how confused these men must be. I’m not saying women should let ignorant men who feel entitled to a vagina cry on their shoulder when they don’t get to put their dick in something. But oversimplifying a complex issue that is deeply engrained in American media discredits every Millennial kid whose ever debated the “nice guy” effect.
The issue is not that women secretly want to date assholes. The issue is not that women like a challenge, or enjoy the chase. The issue is not that women are repulsed by nice guys. It’s tempting to brush off a major problem with simple excuses, but it’s damaging our entire generation.
I don’t think it’s impossible to convert these ignorant “nice guys” into penis-having feminist unicorns, but they have to know how to respect women as human beings and not as moving dick receptacles. While getting angry and taking a stand is a start, it’s not a complete solution. So how do we start teaching American men how to be respectful of women in every way, shape and form?
The answer is simple. We go to the source. We change the media.
Figuring out how to do that is a little more complicated.