Quickies

Skepchick Quickies 8.3

  • Teen raped after being used by school as “bait” – “Instead of having the girls safely escorted to their bus, as the teacher to whom the crime was first reported wanted to do, Principal Ghilani kept them on school grounds and tasked the school police to follow them — in order to see if they went somewhere to have sex, rather than to watch out for their well-being.”
  • Theory suggests universe without Big Bang – “A new theory has been put forward to explain the accelerating expansion of the universe, without the need for dark energy.”
  • Calcium supplement heart attack study “absurd” – “One of Australia’s leading health experts has cast doubt on new research suggesting calcium supplements may increase the risk of heart attacks.” From John.
  • Self-sustaining robot has an artificial gut – “The robot eats meals of partially processed sewage, using the nutrients within the mash for fuel and excreting the remains. It also drinks water to maintain power generation.” From Dan.

Amanda

Amanda is a science grad student in Boston whose favorite pastimes are having friendly debates and running amok.

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69 Comments

  1. That first article is a great example of some of the things I was talking about in a couple recent posts, regarding women (young and old) having the blame put squarely on them by people automatically assuming they are dirty sluts. Further, it is yet more proof that when such things happen, the rapists are more often than not ignored, and the victims (women usually) are told or even forced to make changes “for their safety” (even if in this case it wasn’t really “for their safety”).

    And people think “rape by deception” has a chance? And even better, that women are going to flood the courts with false accusations if such laws became reality? That right there is what gets me. The first thing people think of isn’t the reality of women being ignored or the blame being put on them when they are sexually assaulted or raped, neither of which is rare. Instead, it’s the rarity of the false accusations that is important to most people.

    Still, I expect, in a few weeks, when something like this comes up again, someone (more than likely a man, but not necessarily) will have to bring up the possibility of false accusations. Because some women lie! Of course they do! Men don’t rape. Women lie. Or they are whores, so they can’t be raped.

    THAT is the kind of thinking that leads people to blame women when they are raped. “Well, some women lie!” leads to, “ALL women are dirty sluts and liars!”

    Of course some women lie. So do men. Humans aren’t always truthful. But the actual reality is that most women don’t like about being sexually assaulted or raped, but instead that they either don’t report the assaults, or they are completely ignored, brushed aside, or even blamed when (not if) they do.

  2. “A new theory has been put forward to explain the accelerating expansion of the universe, without the need for dark energy.”

    (a) It has not yet been published in a peer-reviewed anything, and (b) it received the dreaded “not very interesting” response from cosmologist Sean Carroll. (FWIW, I agree with his complaint.)

  3. On the first article.

    This is telling, “it argued that these girls were just jealous of other girls having sex with the boy in question.”

    He sounds like a sweetheart, a regular Edward Cullen.
    On second thought that might be pretty acurate.

  4. I really wonder why places like ABC News feel like they have to report on “discoveries” which are really just an idea that somebody had one day. I mean, it’s not like abstract mathematics is the most time-critical subject in the world; couldn’t they wait until it’s actually, you know, published somewhere? I guess they want to “scoop” all their rivals . . . by re-writing a university press release before anyone else. Hooray. That might be a great business model for generating articles which people will e-mail to their friends, but as for communicating the truth? I’m not so sure.

    Edit to add: At least this particular article has the goodness to say that the paper in question “appears on the pre-press website ArXiv.org,” but I’m not sure how many readers will get what that means.

    Also, the next bit says that the paper “describes a universe where time and space are not independent, but can be converted back and forth between each other. It also proposes that the speed of light is simply a conversion factor between the two.” It’s not at all clear, at this highly vulgarized level of description, how this is different from ordinary Einsteinian special relativity. What’s new and what’s old? We can’t tell.

  5. I think the first thing that jumped out at me about the cosmology article was the use of the word “theory”. Denotatively, it’s correct, but “hypothesis” or “idea” would work a heck of a lot better in context. Calling it a “theory” elevates it in importance, and makes it more difficult to convince people that big-T Theories are more than just “Wouldn’t it be cool if” talk.

  6. @marilove

    I have to apologize.
    I was wrong to emphasize (in a previous thread) that false accusations happen.
    They do BUT they are so rare that they need little to no consideration, I was wrong.
    This story really irks me. I have an eight-year-old daughter who is already starting puberty (!!!) and the fact that idiots like this principal (and this predatorily little asshat of a student) exist scare me witless.
    I would liken my previous arguments to worrying more about the rare side effects of a drug than its overall effectiveness.
    BTW – I now that I’m can be sarcastic, but this is heart attack serious.

    My previous remark (on this thread) may be part of the problem. Well, not the remark per se, but the source material and its like. Our culture elevates the bad boy to an almost untouchable status. Edward Cullen is a menacing, controlling, manipulative prick of a character, but teenage girls find him “dreamy.” I see it as an extension of the fucked-up morals we get from religion. God, after all, is the ultimate bad boy. He is manipulative, jealous, spiteful, violent, etc.; Edward Cullen to the nth degree, yet we are to give ourselves to him, no questions asked. Fuck that noise.

    If you want to know why religion pisses me off so much, it is shit like that.

    So, back to my point. Most of the girls I went to school with dated the bad boys but came to the nice guys to bitch about how they were being treated. You would let them cry on your shoulder for hours on end, try to make them feel better about the choices they had made (usually awful ones), and when all was said and done they would run right back to mister “shut up or I’ll smack you” and you get cast aside like some used up dish towel.

    But maybe I’m just bitter. At least many of them outgrown that thinking, some don’t.

    Harumph.

  7. @jogleby: Aside from the rape the other issue seems to be one that is all too common, school administration arrogance and decision making in isolation. I have met dozens of school principals who think they are experts in the fields of child abuse and neglect, psychology, law enforcement and parenting. And it’s the hubris that comes with a being not only an educator but a person with real power; and often the sad result is what happened here. It is not uncommon for school administrators to fail when there is policy and law requiring them to call CPS or law enforcement when there is risk or abuse because they think they can handle things or they think they need to do some of their own investigating. I think there should be criminal obstruction and endangerment charges filed against the administrator as well as the civil suit.

  8. @Amanda: I thought it sounded awfully fishy, and I love Sean Carroll’s ever-so-polite smackdown.

    Me, too. Plus isn’t this really a hypothesis? I didn’t see anything in the guesswork stew that was testable. Indeed what evidence we can observe refutes it.

  9. @mrmisconception: I hope you know that I wasn’t really referencing YOU — I know it’s kind of just an automatic reaction. False accusations are terrible and false convictions even worse. You weren’t, btw, the only one who mentioned it in that thread (I’m not even sure if you were the first and I’m too lazy to check).

    I don’t even think the subject necessarily warrants “little to no consideration”. I DO think it’s an important subject. But people put far too much emphasis on it. The subject becomes hyperbolic and exaggerated, and there is almost always at least a tinge of misogyny because the implication is that women lie and are out to ruin men’s lives. People almost never mention false accusations/convictions when it comes to other crimes, yet when the subject of sexual assault or rape is brought up, it is often what people feel the most concern toward.

    So, back to my point. Most of the girls I went to school with dated the bad boys but came to the nice guys to bitch about how they were being treated. You would let them cry on your shoulder for hours on end, try to make them feel better about the choices they had made (usually awful ones), and when all was said and done they would run right back to mister “shut up or I’ll smack you” and you get cast aside like some used up dish towel.

    It’s because women and girls are expected to go for the super-manly-men. The problem with that, of course, is that those men tend to be aggressive, and often abusive (even if just emotionally).

    Still, I think you’re exaggerating a bit. Sure, there are of course some girls and women who go for “bad boys” (or maybe it’s more like some men abuse women, and therefore some women are in abusive relationships with abusive men?) — but I doubt it’s nearly as common as you think it is. I’d also be willing to bet that not all – and even the majority – of the girls in your high school went for “bad boys” and then cried on your shoulder about it. But, maybe it is true: Maybe the majority of the girls you associated with all went for what you considered to be “bad boys” and then cried on your shoulder about it. However, did you ever stop to think about why that may have been?

    Your behavior isn’t exactly peaches. Such behavior is what we like to call being a Nice Guy. Not a nice guy. A Nice Guy. Lots of passive-aggressive boys and men do this. A Nice Guy will essentially pretend to be a woman’s friend, and even reassure her of how supportive he is of her. He will let her cry on her shoulder. He will listen to her problems, and hug her, and tell her that he cares. He will tell her, often, that she has can trust him and tell him anything. He is her friend. Perhaps even one of her best friends. Emphasis on friend.

    But she’s not really his friend — she’s a romantic and sexual interest, first and foremost. Friendship is either secondary or not even on the radar, because his main objective isn’t being her friend. It isn’t to comfort her and to make her feel better. His main objective isn’t being her friend. His main objective is to try to convince her that her boyfriend is a big, bad meany jerk, and that he is a Nice Guy. The best guy. And that she wants to fuck him. That she should fuck him. Or at least let him touch some booby, depending on how old they are.

    Yet, when she treats him like –GASP!—a friend, and doesn’t hook up with him or let him touch some booby, he feels betrayed. Hurt. Wronged.

    But, that feeling of betrayal isn’t because the girl has done something wrong. What is so wrong with a girl being friends with a boy? Especially when he’s reassuring her left and right that he’s her friend?

    That feeling of betrayal is because he feels entitled to her. He deserves her. He is her friend, and that means she wants to fuck him. Or, she should want to. Why wouldn’t she want to?! He’s such a Nice Guy. The best guy.
    I’m sure you’re a great guy, and I don’t get the feeling that you hate women or anything like that, and hopefully you’ve grown up a lot since your school days and are a nice guy instead of a Nice Guy. But that line of thinking is part of the larger problem of how women are treated in our society.

    Why can’t a man be friends with a woman, without the expectation that she is going to hook up with him, or should hook up with him – and if she doesn’t, she’s the one with the problem, because of course he’s such an awesome Nice Guy and why would she want to fuck him?

    This woman puts it nicely:
    http://divalion.livejournal.com/163615.html

    I’ve posted it here before, I think. Highly recommended reading material. It’s not perfect, but she really hits the nail on the head.

  10. @James Fox: Steve Novella’s take on the calcium study. Small relative risk may be more accurate than absurd.

    I also dislike how this doctor is hiding behind the mantel of “safe and effective.” Let’s suppose this is at least mostly true, what my eyes were opened to is how calcium supplementation only achieves mediocre effectiveness at best. I know plenty of 50ish women who take calcium by the handful because their doctor said it might help. You’d think given the metric tons of this stuff that is sold we would have more definitive advice.

  11. Assuming all the evidence turns out as reported – Suing the school is just weak. Why the Frack isn’t the principal up on criminal charges? Accessory after the fact? Criminal negligence? Something. This problem is criminal.
    It has to be a law that when someone reports a serious crime to someone in authority – they must report it immediately to the police. Where does he get off not reporting it to the “real” police and not just his pet police.

    I am so angry about this. I suppose suing is fine, but it doesn’t cover the criminal issue of the principle. I suppose he will be fired or possibly just suspended as though this whole thing was the same level as being late to work too often. Although no one seems to have mentioned any punitive actions against the principal and this is remarkable in and of itself.

    GRarrrrrrrrr.

  12. @marilove

    You are right, there was a bit of overstatement on my part mainly for emphasis.
    The feelings of betrayal came when she (a sister of my best friend who was like a sister to me, not a potential sexual conquest) agreed that the relationship she was in was abusive (physically and mentally) but went on to marry him, discarding my friendship in the process (would not speak to me for years because, as she told me later, I knew). At that point all I could do was watch, as her life became a Lifetime movie. She has since gotten out of this, and a subsequent, abusive relationship to be a well-adjusted adult, praise be to FSM. I will readily admit that I acted in an overly protective manner in this case, a very man-like thing to do, but I do not regret my actions only that they did not stop the abuse sooner.
    I can understand why you would think the situation was as you described and I am not above such feelings, but in this case it was different.

    As for all the other young women at my school I’m sure it wasn’t as grim as I remember (it HAS been over *ahem* years) and there are varying levels of abuse (from real abuse to being a dismissive jerk) and not ALL the girls dated them. I have had plenty of female friends (then and now) that were strictly platonic and many of them have hated the type of guy that was mentioned above, so no, I do not just hang out with the type of girls who “fall” for bad boys.
    It just seems that far too many do, but who knows, maybe subconsciously I’m just a pig who wants to fuck all my friends. It is the nature of us animals after all.

    As for the blog post you sent me to, there are some good points in there but overall it is full of broad generalizations and misunderstandings stemming from personal experience that, I suspect, exaggerates for effect. I just would have you ask yourself, if a man were to write a post about women that was as critical using only personal experience as reference, would you believe it to be “put nicely?”

    Our particular perspective colors everything we see.

  13. That rape article just made me sick to my stomach. Literally, I was finishing my lunch while I read it and now I’m fighting back my vomit. Beyond the civil tort being brought against the school and the criminal charges against the teen who actually committed the rape; the principal and teacher and the school police force who knew of the rape and failed to report them to the actual police all need to be charged. Their behavior was criminal. They need to do time and it needs to be publicized as a warning to other school employees. If you know about students being victamized call the fucking police you fucking assholes. If this happened to my daughter that principal’s life would be in danger. At the very least his physical safety would be in jeopardy.

  14. @mrmisconception: But why are you feeling betrayed? I’d get feeling sad, and concerned — but betrayed, because she was/is in an abusive relationship? Abusive relationships are complex. I know you say she wouldn’t speak to you for years, but that doesn’t mean she “discarded” your relationship — being in an abusive relationship can make living difficult. Maybe she “discarded” your relationship because her abusive partner made it difficult for her to keep friendships. Or perhaps she was ashamed. Or a combination. And it’s likely a bit more complicated than that.

    I know my abusive ex made it VERY difficult for me to make and keep friends, and it wasn’t until several years after we broke up that I realized just how manipulative and good at it he was.

    There’s nothing wrong with wanting to protect someone that you see is in trouble. Women can be protectors, too. :) But it is not right to feel like she betrayed you because she ended up in an abusive relationship or two. It had nothing to do with you. She didn’t end up in abusive relationships to spite you, or to hurt you, or because it was the best way to “discard your friendship.”

    Also, men end up in relationships with horrible women all the time as well. It’s not just women who make bad choices when it comes to dating, though when people talk, you’d think it was — it’s not the men choosing a bad partner, it’s the women making the bad choices. Choosing partners is a bitch and people as a whole can be terrible at it. And, women can be abusive too, even if it’s not always as common, obvious, or noticed. Women aren’t the only ones “ending up” in terrible relationships. There are (at least) two people involved in a relationship.

    “It is the nature of us animals after all.”

    No, it’s not. We’re humans. You are not a prisoner to your “animal instincts”. That’s just the same bullshit we’ve been railing against for days now: “Men can’t control their behavior!” Yes. You can.

    Also, that blog post is a snarky rant by a woman who was/is frustrated to be treated like a sexual object by men who claim to want to be her friend. It’s snarky, yes, but it’s also pretty spot-on. It’s a very common situation for women to find themselves in (I have, for certain).

    I just would have you ask yourself, if a man were to write a post about women that was as critical using only personal experience as reference, would you believe it to be “put nicely?”

    There’s nothing wrong with a woman ranting snarkily about her experiences. She didn’t she claim that ALL men are like that — just the Nice Guys. She made a point to reassure the readers, SEVERAL times, that she knows a lot of actual nice guys, and that she was specifically talking about one type of guy. NOT all guys. Several times, she said this. As in, more than once

    And yet, whenever a woman decides to talk about or even (oh no!) rant about the sexism she experiences every day, even after explaining several times that she isn’t generalizing about *all* men, and is instead just talking about a certain subset of men that exist (and you can’t deny that they do exist), she still must be reminded that not all men are like that! Surely she doesn’t mean to generalize! Tsk tsk!! And maybe she is exaggerating a bit – but she makes it pretty clear that she’s ranting. Rants tend to be a bit over-the-top. That’s what a rant is.

    Personal experiences are important, especially when you remember that nearly every single woman in the world has experienced sexism, in some form or another.. Sexism exists, as do Nice Guys (which is just yet another form of (*certain*) men being sexist).

    Also, the difference between your generalizing about how “a lot” of women go for bad boys, and her ranting is that 1)she was ranting snarkily, and pretty clear about that, and 2)she made it clear, on more than one occasion, that she wasn’t talking about all men, while you said pretty plainly that “a lot” of women like bad boys, which is not true.

    I might see your point if she hadn’t reassured readers several times that she was talking about a certain sort of guy, rather than all guys, but alas. She did. And you ignored it.

    Women do not need to be reminded that not all men are “like that” when we talk about – or even rant about – sexism. We know. We know those awesome men! Promise.

  15. @Gabrielbrawley: In the defense of the teacher in question, I think s/he did what ss/he could. I believe in cases were the police need to get involved, the faculty go to the principle, and the principle goes to the police. At least, that’s what happened at my school in my experience with such an event.

  16. @marilove

    BTW – I do realize that you weren’t necessarily aiming your post at me. I just thought I would point out that my thoughts on the subject have changed because of this article as well as research into just how prevalent false-allegation actually are (not very).

    I agree that underreporting of rape and assault is a much bigger problem.

  17. @marilove:

    Sometimes you really make me wonder…

    But she’s not really his friend — she’s a romantic and sexual interest, first and foremost. Friendship is either secondary or not even on the radar, because his main objective isn’t being her friend. It isn’t to comfort her and to make her feel better. His main objective isn’t being her friend. His main objective is to try to convince her that her boyfriend is a big, bad meany jerk, and that he is a Nice Guy. The best guy. And that she wants to fuck him. That she should fuck him. Or at least let him touch some booby, depending on how old they are.

    I’m female and therefore have a biological impediment to being the Nice Guy. But I was a Nice Girl. You know, the geek with all the answers who would bend over backwards to help anyone who asked because she was so pathetically alone. The one everyone came to for advice, and who would give it, to the best of her ability, even if the person asking had just finished kicking her around and was just resting before round two. I met a few Nice Guys. They came to me for advice, like everyone else did. I have something to tell you: you don’t know shit about the motivations of Nice Guys. At least, not those on the other side of the Atlantic, as I haven’t met any teen Nice Guys here.

    Do you have any idea how bitchy that comment is? How downright sexist? Because there is no way a hormone riddled boy could possibly be *gasp* in love with the girl, and chose to be a friend since he’s not her type, or she’s seeing someone else. Right?

    O, Nice Guys fantasize, and given a real chance they might even pursue the girl. They certainly want to touch their boobies, and more. They are after all one big out of control hormone. But that is not their ultimate goal in life. You might be surprised to know, despite the wet dreams, Nice Guys are usually quite happy with being the friend, if that’s all she’s offering.

    Nice People are invisible. They’re just there, and they’re safe so you don’t give them another thought until you need something, and since they’re so nice, they help out. They do it because they want to, and generally don’t expect anything in return. Not even gratitude a lot of the time, because as soon as the problem is solved people move on to the next problem, leaving Nice People behind wondering when someone will think to ask if there is anything someone can do for them. It bec0mes a game after a while. Is this person actually going to see you? You could turn into the squeaky wheel, actually tell people exactly what you think of them, crack jokes at the expense of others, just like everyone else around you. But you don’t want to be that kind of guy. It wouldn’t be you anyway, and the whole point is for someone to like YOU, as you are. So you wait.

    There’s a unique brand of isolation that comes with being a Nice Person. People in general don’t get you. You don’t get them. How can they say such things to each other?Do such things to each other? Must they always assume the worst? You patch up another ego and try to hang on to your faith in mankind. And then someone comes around the corner and tells you

    His main objective is to try to convince her that her boyfriend is a big, bad meany jerk, and that he is a Nice Guy. The best guy. And that she wants to fuck him. That she should fuck him. Or at least let him touch some booby

    And there is just enough truth there (yeah, you’ve got the hots for her, and yeah, her boyfriend is a jerk and when he’s hurt her badly a few times you did tell her so) to make you question your motives, to make you wonder if you’re as big a jerk as that other guy, or worse.
    That’s when a lot of Nice People let go.

  18. @infinitemonkey: Here is why I don’t think that is enough. The teacher reports it to the principal but according to the article only wanted to have the girls escorted to the bus. That isn’t enough. Report to the principal and when the princpal doesn’t call the police you have a duty to call the police. It isn’t enough to just tell your boss. You have a responsibility based on the knowledge you have.

  19. @Non Believer:

    school personel is bound by law to report to CPS anytime there is any reason to believe a child has been abused in any way. They don’t even have to be sure, though reports will generate investigations and those can have very serious consequences, so in dubious situations it is often felt that there should be an effort to make sure.
    In many places there is also a chain of command kind of thing. A teacher, rather than calling CPS him/herself would report to the principal who would then report to CPS. Either way, CPS has to be told. It’s the law. And it binds the teacher as well as the principal. I don’t really know if the parents have to press charges against the school district before anything can be done along those lines, though.

  20. @marilove

    Firstly – I felt betray at the time. It wasn’t her bf keeping her from being my friend, it was because I knew her secret and she felt ashamed. She would hang out in a group with me but wouldn’t talk to me. So there’s that.
    We are good friends now and she has thanked me for the support I gave har and I have apologized for not doing more. Water. Bridge. Done.

    Secondly – The animal quote was “definitely” taken out of context. I had just made a snarky comment about “subconsciously” wanting to fuck my friends. I was talking about my sub conscience, something I can’t control (though I wish I could). I do not actively want to fuck my friends (well, there is this one cute guy ;)), and even if I could I would control myself.

    Lastly – I was not saying that the blogger was not allowed to use personal experience in a rant, of course she can, how else does one rant? I was just pointing out that it WAS generalization. It hit me that the only nice guy she mentioned turned out to be her lover (I know the rant was about Nice Guys). Personal perspective, just saying.

    N’k? N’k.

  21. @Gabrielbrawley:

    Who knows how that conversation went? I can see the teacher telling the principal, not actually saying that CPS needs to be called because after all that is something the principal is bound by law to do, but requesting an escort ot the bus, maybe intending to call the girl’s home and talk to her parents about it so they can help her deal with it. And the principal responding with something vague like “I’ll take care of it”. So the teacher goes on to the next class, or to grading papers, confident that CPS will be called and wishing there was something else to do.

    Which is why I hate the chain of command approach, and when I’m the teacher having to report abuse, I’ll be in the room when that call is made, or I’ll go home and call myself to verify that it was indeed made.

  22. @gwenwifar

    This.

    You just made me cry. That was me in High School.
    It was like I was in a John Hughes movie.

    I was Molly Ringwald in 16 Candles.
    I was Anthony Michael Hall in The Breakfast Club.
    I WAS DUCKIE!

    I was a real nice guy and I was invisible.

    Not now, now I’m a prick.

  23. @mrmisconception: @gwenwifar

    This.

    You just made me cry. That was me in High School.
    It was like I was in a John Hughes movie.

    I was Molly Ringwald in 16 Candles.
    I was Anthony Michael Hall in The Breakfast Club.
    I WAS DUCKIE!

    I was a real nice guy and I was invisible.

    Not now, now I’m a prick.
    Leave a Comment

    OMG, I almost posted the EXACT SAME THING. Gwenwifar just explained my high school experience.

  24. @mrmisconception:

    O, I don’t know. You have your moments, but overall, you still seem pretty nice to me.

    Being invisible sucks. I try hard not to be anymore, but still find myself blending into the background. I wish to hell I knew how to stop that without amputating the best part of my soul.

  25. @mrmisconception:

    It wasn’t her bf keeping her from being my friend, it was because I knew her secret and she felt ashamed.

    In a way, it was her bf “keeping her from being your friend” — she was in an abusive relationship and was ashamed. Seems pretty simple to me, honestly. I know it sucks, but it still doesn’t warrant feeling betrayed. Though I know sometimes we humans aren’t always rational.

    I was just pointing out that it WAS generalization.

    But she even SAID this, and that it wasn’t perfect, but just her feelings on the subject — and she talked at length about her partner, yes, but she also mentioned, more than once, that she knows many other awesome men. And I quote:

    “At one end, are the guys who are just pure and simple good guys, decent people, humanly flawed perhaps but nonetheless likable *and* lovable, caring and smart, who have a lot to offer”

    That’s ALSO generalization, because even likeable and loveable people can be flawed.

    But she did mention, several times, that her rant was about one specific kind of guy.

    I just feel like whenever women complain or talk about sexism, we are ALWAYS reminded that “NOT ALL men are like that!” — like we’re idiots, or that the default setting for feminists is to Hate Men.

  26. @gwenwifar: Odd that the “nice guys” came to you to complain and not to form a lasting friendship with a kindred spirit.

    Trust me, I’ve been there. While the stated motivations may be mostly pure and not entirlely dishonest, there is a sense of entitled resentment that is sexist and uncool. Many people who ask “Why is she with that guy?” just don’t add the “and not me” at the end, though it is implied. It’s not wrong to be a nice guy/friend who gives advice and a shoulder to cry on. It’s wrong to be a nice guy/friend who gives advice and a shoulder to cry on with the expectation that the person will realize what a great catch you are and be your girlfriend, even if that’s just an unrealistic dream you have. If one wants someone to like him because he is nice, he should go after a nice girl.

    The problem is that many Nice Guys mistake “pretty” for “nice” in the opposite gender (see also: that “hot chicks with douchebags” website; It should be “douchebags with douchebags ” in most cases). To them, every girl with an asshole boyfriend is an innocent victim waiting for a savior to help her. The truth is, if your friendship isn’t reciprocal (you are always the supporter and only serve her needs), she’s an asshole too.

    It can be easy to misunderstand what marilove was saying, but I was like that for a while, and I wasn’t a bad person. The thing is, patriarchal myths are reenforced by our culture all the time, and sometimes we can’t help but be suckered. Heck, there’s an entire movie genre built on the Nice Guy myth. No one should be blamed for occasionally being a tool of the patriarchy, but they should acknowledge those shortcomings and attempt to get better. It took me a couple of miserable failures to realize the error of my ways (ach, high school) and to learn to be more direct with people, but I think it has paid off.

  27. @gwenwifar: “without amputating the best part of my soul.”

    I think the most irritating thing about Nice People is the esteem with which they talk about their “niceness,” usually a not-so-inconspicuous passive-aggressive (shock!) dig at all us Not Nice People who go out and talk to people and *gasp* have casual sex and drink!

    What is this glorious part of your soul that people who don’t disappear into the background have given up, exactly? Or is it more that you have spent years of your life rationalizing away your own social inadequacies and convincing yourself that they make you a better person instead of fixing them?

  28. @gwenwifar: I was talking about a certain kind of guy in general, and even made a point to say that I don’t know mrmisconception and I’m sure he’s a fine fellow (I made sure to say something like this a few times). My point was that he was coming off like a Nice Guy, even if he wasn’t meaning to. I wasn’t trying to imply he was and IS a Nice Guy. Or that it was necessarily a bad thing that he maybe went through a Nice Guy period as an adolescent. Teens can be stoopid. It happens.

    I’m sure he’s a wonderful person and I know text doesn’t always come out well, and I was trying to be as general as possible (using “he” instead of “you” — but I imagine I wasn’t always perfect with that).

    My LARGER point is that this kind of thinking IS really common and is part of the bigger problem. It’s the “default” — even nice guys (lower case) sometimes think this way. Even perfectly wonderful women do. “Women like bad boys” is a pretty common misconception. So is, “She likes it. Otherwise she wouldn’t be with him. She likes bad boys.” They are very common misconceptions that even good people hold.

    “They do it because they want to, and generally don’t expect anything in return. ”

    Also, I don’t think it’s clear to you what the difference between Nice Guys and nice guys. Nice Guys do expect something in return. And when they don’t get it, they feel betrayed and hurt, or worse.

    Nice guys (lower case) are nice because they are nice people. But yes, of course nice guys sometimes fall for friends. And sometimes the girl doesn’t like him back, and then he gets hurt. That doesn’t make him a bad guy. Nice Guys, however, aren’t nice people. They pretend to be nice to get something. Usually sex or affection of some sort.

    Did you read the livejournal post I linked to? She says it a bit clearer than I.

    I was NOT trying to imply mrmisconception is a Nice Guy, just that certain behavior can be perceived that way, and that women have to deal with this crap a lot.

    And I’ve made it pretty clear that women can be just as bad as men, but we’re not talking about men right now.

    I admit I’m going through a similar situation right now, so maybe I’m a bit passionate about it, but I do not think mrmisconception is some kind of asshole.

    BUT: “bitchy”? Really? No. Just no. I may not have been perfectly clear, but I was in no way “bitchy”.

  29. @Stevie: I’m sure she explained plenty of people’s high school experience. The question is whether you look back at that experience and compare yourself favorably to movie characters who exist in fantastical portrayals of high schools that don’t exist or you think “god, what an asshole” and grow the hell up.

  30. @mikerattlesnake: You rock. Thank you for explaining. I’ve had like, 3 hours of sleep.

    Also, I don’t think the difference between “nice guy” and “Nice Guy” is getting through. Nice guys (lower case) are nice people. Nice Guys (upper case) are not nice people. They are usually passive-aggressive and manipulative, not nice.

  31. @mikerattlesnake

    It’s wrong to be a nice guy/friend who gives advice and a shoulder to cry on with the expectation that the person will realize what a great catch you are and be your girlfriend, even if that’s just an unrealistic dream you have.

    Why?
    I mean, if your only hoping and not trying to force her hand, why is it wrong?
    It may be unrealistic; it may be self-destructive in the long run, but why is it wrong?
    It may eventually annoy her that you are always there (I doubt it as you are invisible) waiting for her to see in you what you see in her, but why is it wrong?
    There is a genre of movie about this because it strikes a chord; people like to think that it can happen sometimes. Perhaps I am just a hopeless romantic (probably not) but I like to think that compatible people can see when they are compatible at least some of the time. Shakespeare wrote about it, as did many before him, I like to think they were on to something.

    The entire reason we are talking about this is because I used the words “bad boy” and “nice guy” precisely because they denote a type. A stereotype sure, but you know what someone means when they say it. In my original post I said that God was the ultimate (used wrongly, I HATE that) bad boy, I think I can add that Jesus was the ultimate nice guy. Adds a whole new dimension to divalion, the blogger’s, rant.

  32. @mikerattlesnake
    I think the most irritating thing about Nice People is the esteem with which they talk about their “niceness,” usually a not-so-inconspicuous passive-aggressive (shock!) dig at all us Not Nice People who go out and talk to people and *gasp* have casual sex and drink!

    I think you may be projecting a bit.

  33. @marilove: Nice guys (lower case) are nice people. Nice Guys (upper case) are not nice people. They are usually passive-aggressive and manipulative, not nice.

    THIS I get (and I must admit I did miss that part of your last comment.)

    @mikerattlesnake: Dude, I was laughing that we related to the characters, not that we literally thought we were perfect or thought we were exactly like them. The reason everyone loves those characters is because pretty much EVERYONE relates to them.

  34. @mikerattlesnake:

    Odd that the “nice guys” came to you to complain and not to form a lasting friendship with a kindred spirit

    Did I say that? I remember one year I walked to school every day with a very Nice Guy. We lived in the same general area and went to the same school. We talked about everything, from the opposite sex to last night’s Arsenio Hall show (we were both fans). Then he moved. Nice People are around, and they did come to me for advice. We were even friends sometimes. But school in Portugal does not leave time for socializing (11-12 year-long classes, 40 weekly hours at school plus homework and travel time, no extracurricular activities, no clubs).

  35. @mrmisconception: Nope, I had a Nice Guy for a roommate who used to loudly complain that girls only dated assholes and that the only way to get laid was to be an asshole. My other roommate was my girlfriend. It grates.

    What do you think someone is implying when they say the only way to fit in is to “[amputate] the best part of [her] soul”? What does that say about the souls of the people she would be fitting in with? I would presume they are lacking that thing that makes her so precious.

    Personally (again, as someone who went through that phase), I think sometimes people go through a rough patch in which they are ostracized (for me it was middle school) and resent the people who did the ostracizing. They then go on to distance themselves from those people and convince themselves that they are “better” than those people. In some ways this is true: those people are assholes and by not being an asshole that person would be, presumably, better. The problem comes when they confuse a whole range of behaviors (outgoing, daring, flirty, loud, athletic, partier) with the central personality trait “asshole” and reject those traits as well. These people then spend years rationalizing that decision and convince themselves that the rejection of those behaviors makes them “better”.

    I’m just doing my part to dissuade folks of that idea.

  36. @marilove: While I don’t doubt that “Nice Guys” don’t exist, I really don’t think that they are a prevalent as you think. How do you know the difference in the motivations of a socially awkward guy who has a crush on his friend and the guy who is only pretending to be the girl’s friend in order to sleep with her?

    The nice guy stereotype is usually reserved for introverts. It is a lot easier for them to be “just friends” than it is to deal with rejection, at least in my case. All of the warning signs of a “Nice Guy” in the link you posted can easily be applied to an introvert, some one who is socially awkward, or a womanizer. You can’t put your biases onto the motivations of the guy, you can only judge him by his actions and what he says.

  37. @jogleby: “The nice guy stereotype is usually reserved for introverts. It is a lot easier for them to be “just friends” than it is to deal with rejection”

    The thing is, that person has settled on a dishonest relationship without the informed consent of the other partner. For the Nice Guy the two are “friends*” and to her they are “friends”. Not fair and leads to creepy drama often (because, while the introvert fears rejection, there is always a point where they snap and confess their love). This is not a problem men usually have to put up with and almost all of my girl friends and coworkers have at least one Nice Guy story. It’s not cute or admirable, it’s misogynistic and gross.

    *ohpleasepleasepleaseleaveyourboyfriendandhavesexwithmebutdon’tmakemeaskyouortellyouhowIfeel

  38. @mikerattlesnake:

    I’ve started to type so many things, but I’ve changed my mind.

    All I have to say is this:
    I used to lie awake at night trying to figure out what was wrong with me that nobody seemed to like or respect me. How could I change? Then one day I discovered that I liked me.

    I like who I am. I like the fact that I don’t set out to hurt people, even when they’ve hurt me. I like the fact that even though I know I’m going to be taken advantage of and possibly get myself killed one day, I will stop and help someone who seems to need help. I like the fact I give people the benefit of the doubt. I have no intention of changing, nor do I see any reason to pretend to be someone I’m not.
    I don’t think that makes me superior to anyone and I certainly don’t feel entitled. I won’t deny that I used to feel resentful, but I grew out of that. That same night I discovered I liked me, I also discovered that was more important than anyone else’s opinion. I can get away from anyone else. I can run, hide, pretend, drift away into a fantasy world. But I cannot get away from my own critical eye. I’m stuck with it wherever I go. At the end of the way, all I care about is my self-respect. So think what you will. I grew out of caring about what other people think a long time ago.

  39. @mikerattlesnake

    I can see what you are saying, I just read it differently. I’ll rephrase it the way I read it.

    She said “Being invisible sucks. I try hard not to be anymore, but still find myself blending into the background. I wish to hell I knew how to stop that without amputating the best part of my soul.”

    I read it as “Being invisible sucks. I’m trying to be more assertive but I need to work on it more. I wish I knew how to be less shy without changing who I am.”

    I don’t know which one of us is right, you might be jumping to conclusions, or I might be giving her to much of a pass, or could be a bit of both. I don’t think she was saying quite what you thought she was though, we would have to ask her. She did say in a later post that she is from Portugal, perhaps a slightly different turn-of-phrase could solve this.

  40. @marilove:

    I’m sorry if i’m having a hard time seeing the distinction when it lies in the motivational attributions you are making. What exactly is the difference, in observable terms? What makes this guy a nice guy, and that guy a manipulative passive-agressive Nice Guy? So far as i can tell, the difference lies in what you chose to consider his motives. pardon me if I have a problem with that.

  41. @mikerattlesnake: What you are describing is having a crush on one of your friends. That is part of the human condition. Yes, some times things get messy, other times, the person holds their tongue and moves on with their life. As far as these relationships being only about sex or a something that only one sex deals with, I disagree.

    If there is deceit or betrayal, that is a different thing. And I don’t think that not telling your friend what your true feelings are should be considered deceitful.

  42. “Being invisible sucks. I try hard not to be anymore, but still find myself blending into the background. I wish to hell I knew how to stop that without amputating the best part of my soul.”

    “I like who I am.”

    Which is it? Which parts of your soul are on the chopping block? None of the good traits you mentioned necessitate wall-flowery.

  43. @jogleby: The problem is when a dude bevomes a chick’s friend because he sees it as the easy silver medal when he actually wants the gold. He avoids rejection by prolonging the inevitable and being dishonest. Sorry, I used to do it, it’s icky. If you look back at a situation like that and think of yourself as a tragic hero (as hollywood has taught us you are), you’re part of the problem.

  44. @mikerattlesnake: My point is that you are distinguishing between being a girl’s friend, then falling for her, vs. falling for a girl then becoming her friend to be with her. Without getting into the guy’s head, you can’t tell which motivation it is. If both guys treat the girl the same, and neither one tells her his true feeling for her, why is one good and bad? It seems arbitrary based on your own perceptions.

  45. @gwenwifar: I speak in college edu classes and train teachers about their legal responsibility to call law enforcement or CPS. I always make a point of ensuring they know it’s their responsibility to make the call regardless of what a principle tells them or says they will be doing.

    @mikerattlesnake: “… that “hot chicks with douchebags” website; It should be “douchebags with douchebags ” in most cases). “

    Lessons for life!

  46. @mrmisconception: @mikerattlesnake:

    Actually you’re both wrong. Shyness has nothing to do with it. Assertiveness does. I’m not very good at asserting myself. It’s hard for me to be assertive with those whose image of me is formed because I’ve been invisible for so very long that it’s like a deaf person trying to adjust the volume of his/her voice. At any given time, am I being assertive or nitpicky? Am I being reasonable and compromising, or caving in?

    But that’s not really the problem. I’m invisible because I’m not threatening. Because I am dependable.
    As an example – my best friend got married a few years ago. She called me one fine day and asked me what i was doing in two weeks. She had been planning the wedding for months, and our conflicting schedules meant we hadn’t spoken in twice that long. She sent out the invites, and made all the decisions. Then one day – o yeah, I never did get around to inviting my best friend. Yeah, I felt left out. It would have been fun to look over dresses with her, to laugh about the things we used to say we wanted as teenagers.
    I know she waited because she knew I would be there, even if she’d called me on her way to the church (yes, she’s a believer). From her perspective, it was “I want her there, she’ll be there for me, no problem, bigger fish to fry”. From mine it was “how am i going to get the weekend off with such short notice and i have nothing to wear and why was i the last one to know”.
    I could have been assertive. But that’s not what she needed from me. So I bought a new dress, begged for the weekend off, while making it clear that Iwouldn’t be there either way, and pretended not to be hurt by the whole thing as I settled nicely into the wallpaper hoping it hadn’t cost me my job (it didn’t). It was her wedding day after all, and her happiness was more important than my hurt feelings.

    That’s what i’m talking about.

  47. @mikerattlesnake:

    you’re not looking at the implications. Little story for you:
    When I was 19 I worked at McDonald’s for a while. I was the only one working the closing shift that actually had a car, except for the manager. One of the first few nights, at the end of the shift, the manager who was on duty had no car (her husband would be picking her up), and everyone was trying to work out how to get the rest of the closing team home. They knew i had a car, they asked me if i would drive them home. Ok, sure, no problem. I drove them home.
    The next night, they were all waiting for me. would I mind taking them home again? No, not really. I’ve always enjoyed driving at night, without all the traffic. Before I knew it, I was driving everyone home every night. No one ever offered to contribute towards the gas. It took about an hour and a half, and one of the guys was 30 miles out of my way. Still, I didn’t really mind. Then one day when I went to get gas, with all the guys still in the car, my bank decided to update their system and my card didn’t work on the pump. I had only a couple of bucks on me, not enough for gas. But that’s ok, because one of the guys graciously offered to lend me the money. I payed it back a couple of days later, still expecting him to say “nevermind, you go out of your way for me every night, keep the money”. He didn’t. Now i started to mind a little. But with everyone counting on me to drive everyone home after work, I didn’t want to seem petty. I had never asked them to pay for gas, after all. Then a few days later, the guy i went 30 miles out of my way for every night told me to go fuck myself when i made some comment i don’t even remember about his work. Then he started cracking jokes about what i did on the internet and when one of the other guys, the one who lent me the money, said something in my defense he said something untranslatable but very offensive, right in front of the manager. She pretended she didn’t hear. The guys all started laughing. I walked out and resigned the next day. Would you believe it – they were waiting for me to drive them home that night? I didn’t, of course. But that’s the pattern of my life.
    I am the one who ends up being told she is a cold selfish cow because i won’t strike back in a fight. Because there are things I won’t do for anyone. And while it would be easy to simply say “sure, i’ll give you a ride if you pay for gas’, I don’t want to be the person who always wants/expects some kind of retribution. I need to find the line between expecting and getting retribution and expecting and getting respect. Then I need to make sure people stay on the correct side of that line.

  48. For me a nice guy is just… well… a nice guy! He can be your friend. He can have a crush on you. If he shares his feelings with you and you don’t, he doesn’t make a huge deal out of it. It probably still hurts him (heck, I know rejection too. Yeah, it hurts). But he’s not a jerk about you not feeling the same. He doesn’t try to make you ride the guilt train or stop being friends with you because you said “no”.

    Now, a Nice Guy is the guy that calls you a heartless bitch (been there) because you don’t share his feelings. It’s a guy who acts as if he’s “entitled” to you for some reason or another (I have come to assume that it’s because I have a vagina and he’s got a penis… please correct me or share your views if they differ from mine). The Nice Guys I have met were also obsessive and manipulative. Not fun!

    I don’t know. I’m not sure I understand the confusion in the definition of a nice guy as opposed to a Nice Guy. I find the rant Marilove posted the link for brilliant!

  49. To James Fox, davew and Roger:

    It is a shame that 3/3 of you seem to have got hold of the wrong end of the stick about the calcium study – to varying degrees.

    Prof Nordin works down the corridor from me.
    He is an amazing guy, 90 years old, who still rocks up to work every day and has a formidable intellect and academic reputation.

    Roger, that is not to suggest that everything he says is necessarily right, but to suggest that he is a shill for the supplement industry is just wrong.

    dawew, Chris Nordin himself would tell you that calcium alone will be ineffective in many situations (because of the effect of PTH you need to take it in the evening together with vitamin D).

    The government lab I work in does most of the vitamin D measurements in South Australia. You would be surprised how many people are deficient – I myself have a level 1/3 of the lower recommended limit.

    By the way we are not shills either – we would be only too happy to see less work because we can’t keep up with the demand.

    As routine measurement of vitamin D is a relatively recent development, the understanding of its metabolism is still not fully understood and there will be many bunfights in the literature before the full story is sorted out.

    The Novella article has a response by K Gelling that is worth reading.

    I don’t disagree with the thrust of the article re supplements but mainstream medical opinion at this moment appears to support the need for calcium and vitamin D supplements in some sections of the aging population.

    We are talking WHO recommendations here, not some alternative medicine bullshit. If in doubt, go see your doctor and have a blood test.

  50. @gwenwifar: So, you make yourself a victim by expecting people to be psychic and putting up with/encouraging awful behavior in those close to you. That’s not being nice, it’s being a pushover. You say you try to give people what they need, but sometimes what people need is a swift kick in the ass. The worst thing is that you glorify this behavior and seem to think there’s something admirable about being a chump.

    You have a set of rules in your head that you think people should abide by (most of which are reasonable), but you don’t bother to share those rules of etiquite with anyone else. You are setting yourself up for disappointment every time you don’t make your expectations known to people around you.

    “I don’t want to be the person who always wants/expects some kind of retribution”

    Except you clearly are that kind of person. You just want people to know what you want without you saying it.

  51. @mikerattlesnake:

    I’m so glad you know me so much better than I know myself and are able to explain it all to me.

    All this time I’ve just been assuming that I didn’t have to explain to people that everyone deserves more respect than that, that the manager would know that handling that ass was part of her job description, and even under the crazy impression that if I went around telling people what basic common curtesy looks like they’d think I was a pompous ass (and I wouldn’t blame them), and all the while I was really asking for it.

    I’m tired of talking about myself, and I don’t believe in wasting my breath. So, as I’ve said before, think what you will. I really couldn’t possibly care less.

  52. “All this time I’ve just been assuming that I didn’t have to explain to people that everyone deserves more respect than that”

    Except that you don’t. All you have to do is explain why YOU deserve more respect than that, and even them you don’t have to make it a respect issue, you just make your expectations for any given situation clear. When your best friend doesn’t invite you to her wedding, you don’t spend four months waiting for the invite to show up (and really, am I to believe that in the four months of planning this never came up? Are you her current best friend? Do you live in the same city?) you say, “Hey, am I gonna get an invite to this thing?” When people bum rides off of you every day, you come up with a reasonable trade-off: gas money, lunch, something! Don’t play the victim when you set yourself up to get taken advantage of.

    You’re not nice, you’re passive aggressive and self-pitying. Knock it off!

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