Feminism

Thanks for the Feminism, Nice Guys!

I grew up in the girl power 90s; my motto was “Anything you can do, I can do better.” I thought the need for feminism was over.

Of my nearly two dozen first cousins, the boys were closest to me in age. As the girls were teenagers too cool to willingly deal with a grubby-fingered tomboy, I spent most of my childhood playtime with three of my boy cousins. They taught me about soccer, the Ninja Turtles and Power Rangers, and Nintendo. Later, we spent our joint time collaborating on creating Choose-Your-Own-Adventure-style QBasic programs and 3D Movie Maker films as well as on perfecting our Force-moving and lightsaber dueling skills. Though it meant that many of the delicate young ladies at school refused to accept me, I wouldn’t have had it any other way.

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So I was more than fine with the Internet being a male-dominated space. It didn’t bother me. I was one of the boys, right? It would be fine. I didn’t need special treatment like those other women, whether they were prisses or feminists.

Then, the Nice Guys came along, both online and as friends of my teenage self. At first, all I learned from them was that I wasn’t woman enough. I lacked all the hallmarks of the basic level of attractiveness as per their comments: small, pink, upturned nipples; a small mons with tiny bubblegum-hued labia (as they called it, “tight pussy”); hairlessness; large and “natural” (i.e. non-surgically-enhanced) yet very pert breasts; and overall thinness, perhaps with some ass (hips were acceptable only to the more adventurous and kinky men). Fair enough, I thought. I was a chubby, grubby-fingered tomboy, not exactly some kind of desirable woman.

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Google search results for “pretty”

Who would want to be a desirable woman, anyway? I knew what those women were like.  The Nice Guys told me all about their wives and their girlfriends and their female “friends” (as in women they secretly wanted to have sex with, which, they strongly implied, meant that they weren’t actually friends). Women, as per them, are obnoxious creatures only worth putting up with for the sex. They take too long to orgasm, annoy men with their requests for cunnilingus and cuddling, friend-zone nice guys while dating and sexing up jerks, waste men’s time by never giving an straightforward “no,” can get sex whenever and with whomever they want, stop giving blowjobs and get fat after marriage, demand free meals and drinks but still won’t have sex, and are fussy and high-maintenance.

The Nice Guys were wrong on both counts.

There were men out there who found me to be desirable — not as an attainable consolation prize or a symbol of “settling,” but actually desirable. And, because they saw me the way that the Nice Guys saw those more conventionally-attractive women, i.e. as an object of sexual desire, I was subjected to the same judgments and accusations. More importantly, I learned, in short, that there’s a reason the women at whom I scoffed act the way that they did. There’s always another way to look at it.

Taking too long to orgasm? The mainstream heterosexual script for intercourse often de-prioritizes pleasurable activities associated with cis female pleasure — like non-genital touch and cunnilingus.

Friend-zoning? Some straight men seem to believe that they are entitled to love and/or sex, sometimes without ever having even asked for it.

Not giving a straightforward no? Being a woman means that responding to certain men overtures at all is an invitation for rebuttals, while ignoring them doesn’t give them the opportunity to engage further. In addition, there’s the issue of female socialization where women know that they will be seen as rude or mean for issuing outright refusals.

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Sex on demand? Only if they’re willing to lower our standards (and men could probably have sex as frequently as women if they did so as well).

Fat and frigid? Men are, on average, fatter (not that it should even matter), and women’s sex drives aren’t exactly as frigid as they are rumored to be.

Demanding of free stuff? All those free drinks don’t exactly rectify the wage gap. When it comes to fat women, we both earn even less than our thinner counterparts and aren’t exactly bombarded with free drinks at Ladies Night (if we’re even allowed in). Plus, women generally have to put much more in the way of time and resources into our appearances in order to be seen as even baseline presentable. And then, of course, we’re berated for being high-maintenance for maintaining the accepted standard for female appearance.

It was through all those realizations that I began to question exactly why women are so widely reviled and wonder if it wasn’t that there is something especially wrong with women but that women are held to impossible standards. I fell down the questioning-the-status-quo rabbithole and ended up a feminist.

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So thank you, Nice Guys. You turned one of you into one of them with your bile. May your thinly-veiled misogyny lead legions of other women to freedom from internalized self-hatred.

Heina Dadabhoy

Heina Dadabhoy

Heina Dadabhoy [hee-na dad-uh-boy] spent her childhood as a practicing Muslim who never in her right mind would have believed that she would grow up to be an atheist feminist secular humanist, or, in other words, a Skepchick. She has been an active participant in atheist organizations and events in and around Orange County, CA since 2007. She is currently writing A Skeptic's Guide to Islam. You can follow her on Facebook, Twitter, or Google+.

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61 Comments

  1. June 17, 2013 at 12:04 pm —

    I don’t comment much on here but this is so similar to many of my experiences that I had to log on and say thank you. Very good post. :)

  2. June 17, 2013 at 4:28 pm —

    The thing that makes me sad about this post is that it perpetuates the use of “Nice Guy” to mean exactly the opposite. It doesn’t leave much room for those of us who ARE supportive of the women in our lives and in society at large; those of us who do care about the disparities of our societies when it comes to gender. Stop calling misogynist assholes “nice guys” please.

    • June 17, 2013 at 4:44 pm —

      There is a cultural trope surrounding the term “Nice Guy”; in my opinion, there’s no point in trying to fight trends in language. There is plenty of room for you to call yourself a good person, a decent man, etc.

      • June 17, 2013 at 5:36 pm —

        To me the problematic thing is dudes describing *themselves* as nice guys. If you consistently feel the urge to state out loud to people that you’re a decent person (regardless of the exact words) rather than them just knowing it by your actions, then perhaps it’s not true, you know?

    • June 17, 2013 at 4:52 pm —

      Why are you so attached to the label “Nice Guy”? It has a really specific meaning in feminist circles. If you say “he’s a nice guy” in everyday conversation, people likely won’t think it means the same thing as it is used in this post.

      I feel like there is plenty of room for me to be a feminist and do the work of an ally for women while also recognizing “Nice Guy” for what it is and not thinking that it applies to me. What’s with the guilty conscience?

    • June 17, 2013 at 7:38 pm —

      Meh, being made uncomfortable by social revolutionaries is the first step to change. Feel uncomfortable for a while then join the side of human rights.

  3. June 17, 2013 at 7:26 pm —

    Yep. Couldn’t have said it better. However, I think it is worth noting that some of us that self-identified as “Nice Guys” in high school did not go on to become bitter, objectifying, entitled, pedestal-placing, Madonna-whore-complex-having morons. Some of us realized that a lot of the “Jerks” were not, and instead were just treating women like people. People with desires like their own.

    I’m in this boat. I was shy, geeky (before it was cool) and awkward. I knew I had a lot to offer someone, but I couldn’t bring myself to even talk to a girl – let alone ask one out. I saw “Nice Guy” as a way of expressing the unfair expectation that men need to make the first move and so on. I didn’t then understand the difficulties and fears that women have to deal with. I still don’t really. I don’t imagine I ever will. I just didn’t understand the bodily and social risks associated with making the first move. The slut-shaming. Being raped and told you were asking for it.

    One thing, though. I don’t think it will ever be as easy for men to get sex as it could be for women. Desirability aside. I think this is also testable. Find very unattractive, and also extremely attractive photos of men and women. Create fake profiles on OkCupid or some other dating site. Fill in the profiles with identical (Hey, I seem like a real person) text. Then send messages to 100 straight people of the opposite sex located nearest that fake profile. The message reads: “Would you like to have sex with me?” My hypothesis is that the women will get far-and-away more positive answers. To the point where the ugly men will get none, and the attractive women will get something close to 100%. And I suspect the unattractive women will still get more positive answers than the very attractive men.

    Not because men are pigs or anything, but because society has decided that men should pursue women and should go about it with tact. And that being given any chance to short-circuit that script is something many or most men would simply just not pass up. The safe thing to do is say no, anyone who would just come out and ask that to a stranger is obviously unbalanced in some way; but the chance will be too much of a windfall for a lot of men to pass up. Women, on the other hand, will remain clearer when given this chance and will know a bad idea when they see it.

    Regardless of the mechanism, this adds up to women being able to get sex easier than men; I suspect. I wish I had the time to test this myself. If enough people want to help out, I bet we can perform this test.

    • June 17, 2013 at 7:48 pm —

      Actually, straight men can have sex just as easily as straight women can if they’re willing to lower their standards. One way they can do so is by paying for sex. Though prostitution is illegal in most places, a man can quite easily find a willing escort (or even a sex worker off Craigslist) and pay for her time, time that would probably include sexual acts. Sex workers aside, there are plenty of women on Casual Encounters on Craigslist and at bars at closing time willing to have sex with whomever, they are just usually not conventionally attractive and thus passed over as options by most men.

      And believe it or not, I’ve passed more than one night alone when I was perfectly willing to spend it with a stranger (and not just a Brad-Pitt-esque one or anything like that).

      • June 19, 2013 at 5:05 pm —

        I’ve considered where and how to respond to all this. I’m selecting this location because there is a key issue here and 90% of the rest of these responses contain misunderstandings or extrapolations of what I said. To quickly address those first: I was not saying that any particular reason listed was the only reason. I was trying to remain as brief as I could, realizing the length of what I was saying. I was not saying that society was right or wrong with their choices, I was simply stating how things are now. For the record, I believe things should be however any given individual wants them to be for themselves and should be less inclined to take offense and more inclined to do unto others as those people express they’d like you to do unto them. And I was not suggesting that sex is a trophy. Sex is an activity and I was speaking about people’s ability to find a partner for that activity. Not passing judgment on and supporting the seeking of that activity.

        Yes, men (and women) can find a partner for pay. But that’s not a lowering of standards. That implies that sex workers are inherently of lower value. That’s bullshit, even from a purely capitalist perspective. If sex workers were not of significant value, they would not be able to charge for their services. Paying is a way to achieve finding a partner that meets your high standards, not a way of lowering those standards.

        Regardless. I did not make any hard claim. I presented an hypothesis with a viable way to test that hypothesis. Neither one of us really knows what the spread is. I never said that all women can have sex whenever they want and all men can’t ever get it. I simply said that it is not balanced. I base that on my own experience, which is not good science, so I proposed an experiment that can be performed to find the answer.

        Lastly, and perhaps most importantly: “And believe it or not, I’ve passed more than one night alone when I was perfectly willing to spend it with a stranger (and not just a Brad-Pitt-esque one or anything like that).” is what you said. Did you ask anyone on those nights? Did you call up a few men and ask them to come over? Did you hop on Craigslist, post a photo, and get no responses? Did you hit the bar and chat up the guys there? I’m not asking rhetorically, I don’t know if you have or not.

        • June 19, 2013 at 6:09 pm —

          Those nights usually involved my getting rejected by a bunch of dudes at a college (not frat) party dominated by far by self-described and definitely dorky/geeky/nerdy/forever alone-type men (i.e. I was one of the few single women there), then trying Craigslist and OkCupid Locals/Chat afterward only to find nothing. I was under 21 and without a car so bars weren’t an option. For that matter, bars are not an option for me even now that I’m 25 and have a car since I rarely get approached even if I’m one of the few single women left at closing time at a bar (and the one time I was, it was a man who had been mocking and insulting me loudly earlier in the evening. hooking up with him would have been self-esteem-shattering).

          • June 22, 2013 at 9:02 pm

            From your description, it sounds as though these males who rejected you were probably not too socially adept. Is it possible that they were intimidated by your intelligence (maybe the only thing some of these fellas prided themselves in) or fierceness (or is that a more recent trait)? From your photos I can see that you are a pretty young woman with a beautiful smile.

            I personally have never known a male to criticize the genitals of a woman who shares that part of herself with him – And I’ve heard plenty of drunk talk from some pretty skeezy guys. I personally have been judged and abused for much of my life, and when I meet judgmental people, I tend not to stick around to find out what comes next. I have heard some genital mocking from women (fortunately, for my ego, about other men), and assume some men are like that as well. That said, I find it difficult to understand what “went wrong” in some of the “looking for fun” cases you depict above. Obviously I don’t have enough information to point a finger, and besides, that’s not really something I find useful. However, is it possible that the defense mechanisms of a bunch of dudes who, at a guess, are likely lonely and/or horny, might have seemed the best course of action to these eligible bachelors at the time? We penis wielders can be a fickle bunch, and due to our often unfortunate lack of self-awareness, we tend to openly project our insecurities onto others. I’d hate to think that parties loaded with single lonely dudes have been written off as cryptomisogynistic dregfests when chances are (and I’ll wager my man card on this) many or most of those single bumbling inexperienced socially awkward fellas would have done terrible things to spend some fun time in a carnal way with an intelligent, interested woman.

          • June 22, 2013 at 9:30 pm

            gluttonne: When I hear people assure me, to the point of insistence, that those men would never criticize or insult a woman, that they are incredibly desperate for any female company, etc., it doesn’t help. In the past, sentiments like the ones expressed in your comment would have reduced me to tears — after all, according to you, these guys were just awkward, so there must be something indescribably, incredibly wrong with me. Now, I just say that whatever motives you want to ascribe to them, I still had my experiences, and however pretty or whatever you find me, I heard from plenty of them about how I wasn’t attractive enough to warrant their attention (indirectly, through others, and even directly).

          • June 22, 2013 at 10:27 pm

            It’s not uncommon, Heina – lots of us have had similar experiences, as I’m sure you know – and the glutonne’s of the world seem to think it’s really important to add insult to injury.
            (I especially like the slap of ‘…many or most of those single bumbling inexperienced socially awkward fellas would have done terrible things to spend some fun time in a carnal way with an intelligent, interested woman..’ directly implying that women who experience rejection, humiliation, and ridicule must not be intelligent or interesting.)

          • June 22, 2013 at 10:32 pm

            He also threw in an “I’d fuck you, don’t you feel better now!” with this:
            “From your photos I can see that you are a pretty young woman with a beautiful smile.”

          • June 26, 2013 at 5:20 pm

            Heina, I did not intend to insult you in any way. I also, as a below replier insinuated, mean to say anything like “I’d fuck you” nor did i expect my comments about you to be taken as insults or perpetuation of anything. I try to be an ethical man and typically defer to err on the side of compassion and understanding when I can (this is not to insinuate that you or anyone else here does not). As I fear I may not be as well-versed in the proper way to word things at times (perhaps owing to my own personal communication barriers I’ve had as someone who has been rejected and had trouble finding my own place in the social schema), I would like to know, if plausible, how I could have worded the above post I made in a way to show that a> from my admittedly limited understanding, I find it disturbing that you would find such a hard time with guys of multiple socioeconomic strata; b> Many of the people who apparently rejected you, based on my own experiences, may not have meant to be hurtful as many people unfortunately fall into the shadow of fear before their interest/compassion can come out c> i generally wish you well, not because of your gender or even your writing here, but because you are a fellow human being whose life has value. I know that many terms hold a stsigma today that they may not have when I was growing up (approximately 10 years before you as I am 35), and i am eager to communicate without the burdens of passing judgment or being judged, regardless of whether said judgment is implied, inferred, or laid out in plain cruel language. I will henceforth leave you to your columns un-bothered unless you would prefer I stick around, as I find that conflicts of interest rarely help to heal anyone, even if simply misunderstood. If you or any of your readers care to give some criticism, preferably of the constructive variety, of my first post, I will check by and try to learn something from you folks. Otherwise, I will just run along.

          • June 26, 2013 at 5:28 pm

            punchdrunk, if you are not capable of reading and understanding words as they are written (your two replies to me indicate this), please stay out of the conversation. What you inferred has nothing to do with what I implied or plainly said (I don’t generally imply anything in a serious discussion if I can help it due to concern about misunderstandings like the ones you have just had). My words mean exactly what they directly say – I don’t process malice in every statement effectively and as such completely avoid implying anything when attempting to communicate with people that I don’t know well. I’m not sure what makes you feel inspired to pick on me directly for attempting to respond in a civil and constructive manner, and I don’t reckon you’re going to tell me now – that’s okay, but please consider that other people have feelings and problems that YOU may not understand or be aware of as well.

          • June 26, 2013 at 5:37 pm

            gluttonne: it wasn’t your choice of words, it was what you actually conveyed. It looked like you were insisting on denying almost everything that I related to you — things that were painful and upsetting for me to admit. Even as I was telling you that men criticize female bodies, you told me that it doesn’t happen because you’ve never heard it. Even as I told you that some of the men were straight-up mean to me, you insisted they were just socially awkward. Even as I told you that I was rejected, you told me that they “would have done terrible things to spend some fun time in a carnal way with an intelligent, interested woman.” It was hard for me to keep being told that I was wrong even as I related my actual, real, lived experiences. On top of that, if I assumed that what you were saying were true, I would be disqualified from the category of “intelligent, interested woman” because guess what? They didn’t want “fun” and/or “carnal” time with me, and they definitely let me know it.

            If you had just left it at “from my admittedly limited understanding, I find it disturbing that you would find such a hard time with guys of multiple socioeconomic strata”, that would have been fine. From my end, it seemed like you were deeply invested in persuading me that people who were cruel to me were simply awkward and that people who rejected me were simply awkward. Awkwardness doesn’t explain everything and even if it does, it doesn’t actually excuse anything. Human beings who choose to interact with other human beings should occasionally wonder how they’re affecting others, IMHO, and these guys, whatever their reasons “why” might have been, really screwed up on the “how” of things.

            So, I guess focusing more on finding an explanation for your confusion rather than (at least on the surface, I don’t know what your intention might be) denying what others say or attempting to explain things away would be helpful.

          • June 27, 2013 at 12:47 am

            Interesting. But I’m curious. By “getting rejected” do you mean you approached guys and were rebuffed, or that you were not approached. In the bar scene you describe it sounds like the latter.

          • June 27, 2013 at 1:12 pm

            Both, actually. I didn’t approach men as much in bars as I did at parties, but I still did.

          • June 27, 2013 at 3:22 pm

            Heina,
            I understand now. Certainly did not mean to reinforce any pain or feelings of rejection or anything of that sort. Still I can see how easily what i said might be construed that way even if i didn’t mean it as such. Thanks for the followup.

    • June 17, 2013 at 8:49 pm —

      Who fucking cares who “gets” sex easier? I’m not trying to “get” sex, I’m trying to meet cool people WITH WHOM I MIGHT HAVE SEX.

      Your phrasing reveals a paradigm wherein sex is not a mutual activity but rather a trophy to be won. Fuck that bullshit.

      • June 19, 2013 at 12:21 am —

        lol Yeah, well, I think there is some room for, “Lets just get jiggy”, as a certain movie character might put it, but, insanely, random sex is often considered “worse”, though, usually, equally insanely, for women, at least if they get recognized, or admit it to the wrong people, than hiring an escort (if not actually illegal, unless, well.. you do it something where someone objects lol).

        As for lowering standards – both men and women do this anyway. In fact, I am reading a book right now, with a chapter on the realities of how this works. They used a site called “Hot or Not”, which had a, “would you like to meet me”, button. They had three theories about how people deal with their “own” attractiveness:

        1. Alter ones own perception of how others look.
        2. Reconsider other factors/attributes, in deciding who to go after.
        3. Don’t adapt your perspective at all (i.e., still chase the people you know you can’t reach).

        The found that #1 doesn’t happen, nor do we simply ignore how we look ourselves, and keep aiming for anyone we like. No, we do #2 – we aim for the ones that “fit” into the range of attractiveness we consider ourselves in, and we employ “other factors”, to make this determination. Which, I suppose, proves that the “pretty” people really are as shallow as people think, since, when you are a 10, looking for another 10, you hardly need to find out of the other person also likes the same things you do, or even knows what the term “humor” means. ;)

        So, yeah.. Don’t think “lower standards” are the problem. And, despite all the claims to the contrary, by some people, just about everyone has at least a “baseline” concept of attractiveness, that doesn’t differ a lot, even when they don’t have playboy, or fashion magazines to look at, as a means to be “brainwashed” into seeing certain people as good looking. Everyone will still react to those baselines, but.. most of us live in the real world… the book describes it kind of like a party game. Everyone gets a number drawn on their forehead, on the way in the door, and are instructed to associate with the person with the “highest” number on theirs, without a) letting them tell you your number, or, b) using a mirror, or the like, to figure it out. It might take a bit of time, but “eventually” everyone at the party is going to be sorted into groups with fairly close sets of numbers, and will be actively pushing off anyone not “in the group”. Unless you get someone who, say, is just bored, and out bar hoping, or has no clue, somehow, that they are a 10, or their personality drops them from a 10 in looks, to a 4 in personality… odds are, you will *never* end up going home from the bar with someone that has a really big number on their forehead, but, its also good odds that, unless you are also just plain bored (or drunk, and frankly, I think alcohol, not just for this reason, and sex flat shouldn’t mix), you probably won’t be going home with a 3, any more than you will a 9, if your own “status” is 6.

        It would. frankly, almost be better if you got matched up based on all those “secondaries” somehow, and only “then” got to look at them. A lot of people, except the casual encounter types, who maybe don’t plan to repeat the encounter again anyway, would be a lot happier, and possibly, way less confused.

        • June 22, 2013 at 9:33 pm —

          There’s only one problem: attractiveness is arbitrary and contextual.

    • June 17, 2013 at 11:28 pm —

      1st – What sally said. You’re making sex transactional & not observing the individual & their humanity.
      2nd

      Not because men are pigs or anything, but because society has decided that men should pursue women and should go about it with tact

      No, because many things. Because women have more of the burden of the consequences of sex, because patriarchy makes the idea of sex in many cis-straight-males cis-straight-male-centered and therefore women are often not humanized in the process and the resulting sex is often shitty, because rape culture normalizes rape & puts women in danger of rape from randos & close people alike, because society slut shames women for sexual enjoyment, and because STDs are real and deadly (Aids AND HPV), but definitely NOT because society says “pursue women with tact”.

      Women are treated more as chattel than as human beings with human rights and human emotions. You’re saying “it’s because society placed the onus on the male” and that’s what “nice guys” ™ often think.

    • June 18, 2013 at 12:36 am —

      It’s also heaping some extra humiliation on women who are rejected.
      After all, if a hetero woman can’t get laid, there must be something really, really wrong with her. If a hetero man can’t get laid, that’s just human nature.

    • June 18, 2013 at 10:32 am —

      “society has decided that men should pursue women and should go about it with tact. And that being given any chance to short-circuit that script is something many or most men would simply just not pass up.”

      I’m going to say what I say when my kids present me with a just so tale: But, WHY. Why has society decided these things? What is behind it? Look deeper. Don’t say that’s just how it is, unpack why it is.

      • June 19, 2013 at 4:34 am —

        I think it was the original slippery slope. If you look at obscure tribes, and I mean obscure enough that they don’t have, or just don’t much care, about genetic descent, you can find human behavior that would almost make bonobo embarassed. Though, ironically, one study on them showed that if you introduce the idea of “buying” food, by having to insert colored pellets into a machine, to get the food out, the females “immediately” figured out how to get the males to buy them dinner -> prostitution. One of those obscure tribes actually has the women go around, decide which woman in their group will share a guys hut for the night (and usually not the same one twice in a row) then “require” the men to pay for it, by fetching the evening meal. The guys, of course, solve the problem by getting together later, to share the kills, then they all show up with something to “buy” into the fun. lol Note: even before this experiment, they where known to trade food for it, so.. I think is a pretty solid sign that even if we somehow got rid of the “oldest profession”, we would still be paying for dinner. ;) And, I think its rather amusing that, in both cases, its not the men that invented/are-in-charge-of the idea **at all**.

        But, if we presume a start where this, or even something a bit less extreme (like just not having a long term “marriage” concept, or even an idea that a baby looking like the father isn’t pure coincidence, etc., then.. its not hard to image moving to a less… optimal environment, it getting harder for the men to all come back with someone, or show “equal standing”, and a shift, even among the women, towards the idea that some people are more equal than others, and they thus make “better” choices for having kids with. Bit by bit, trying to optimize the chances of a) your kids being well off, for the woman, who does have a clear idea who at least one parent is, b) and increase in the importance that the guy that managed to tame a herd of goats, of successfully plant rice, or just make better spears, can pass that knowledge, and ownership to children **he** knows, or at least assumes, will do as well, and so on, and pretty soon its not just the girls worrying about who one of the parents are. A lot of small changes, all of them perfectly logical, many of them based on entirely false assumptions, such as the heritability of rice growing, and, at some point someone is going to ask, “Heh, maybe we should make sure our daughters are not playing around, before we have a chance to pick which guy she has kids with. That way, we not only get good rice, but they will be so thankful that maybe we will get some of that new leather so and so tans. He has a son, right?”

        Its not hard, at all, to see where this dynamic starts shifting from, “women are in charge of who gets to sleep with who, while men doing most/all of the hunting”, to, “women take care of my home, but I get to decide who my daughters get traded to, once they are old enough.”, and even how, as a woman, most steps in this process, could see a gain, for a small, or no, apparent loss, but where, at some point, they won’t realize what was lost, how much, or when they pretty much lost everything, including there right to even *have* a sex drive of their own, never mind a the right to say no, or any of the other stuff that is damn near programmed into the whole Protestant Christian ethos, and isn’t much better in much of any other part of the Xian trinity of faiths.

        Its also, I don’t think, hard to see why, when Rome and so many other cultures came semi-close to breaking much of it, it never happened until now. We hardly need to hunt, nor the strength to do so. Everyone is a “hunter gatherer”, in the grocery store. Almost nothing, other than say, male vs. female sports, or other similar cases where we still segregate the sexes, *require* the person to be one or the other. In short, there is no longer a need to worry if the guy that had free time, not taking core of the kids, to domesticate the cow, or figure out how to grow something, and so on, to be the focus of whether or not you kid will succeed, or any of the other reasons for the slow slide into women losing almost everything, including their humanity, and men being able to get by with literally anything, including treating women as chattel (or, just generally being total asses, because they are allowed to be, but women are not supposed to fight back).

        • June 19, 2013 at 5:39 am —

          Well, how nice for all those women for whom you’ve bought dinner. I’d say that between the split meals, the being paid for, and all the paying I’ve done, I’ve probably paid more than have been paid for. I guess I’m not a human woman by your standards?

          • June 19, 2013 at 11:55 am

            Ugh.. Not what I meant, seriously. I forget the “this is intended to be a joke, related to the information it immediately follows”, tags? Humans are obviously more complicated in such things, and that is a good thing, as well as a really bad one. We over complicated things, in some cases, to our great detriment, in many cases, and then turn right around and and treat other things as overly simplistic, to an even greater detriment (like, for example, leaping to the conclusion that I go around plying women to sleep with my, by buying them dinners, then expecting them to put out). Yeah, I am sure there are some idiots that think that is how it works. Its also, again, missing the damn joke, which was that, among the bonobo, the females where the ones, not the males, making the assumption that this was a reasonable transaction to invent. The same researcher also commented that, after a while, those same females get bored with the males they had available (or, at least that was the conclusion they came to, and they opted to switch out new males). I rather think that, if I now made a joke about that, it would hardly be ***at all*** to my benefit to suggest we try it as humans either. ;p

            Seriously, this one single part of my comment is what you focus on, and take entirely out of context of how it was meant? Sigh…

          • June 20, 2013 at 11:27 am

            No, indeed I don’t think that’s what kagehi was trying to say. I interpreted it more as a description of how our current gender paradigm arose, and how modern times have made it easier for such a paradigm to be ended; I disagree with his description and think that the answer lies elsewhere (such as religious influence and an expansion of the concept of slavery), but either way I think it is incorrect to say that he’s at all trying to demean women fighting the gender binary or promoting it otherwise.

        • June 19, 2013 at 7:55 am —

          Mmm, heritability of rice growing doesn’t at all seem to be the first thing someone would think of when he sees a successful person. People who have money or food will continue to get money or food – it can just as, perhaps more, easily be a perpetuation of a perceived meritocracy, where either it’s actually built off of merits or built off of wealth.

          And the suggestion that women were complacent in their subjugation in marriage contracts seems to ignore quasi-external factors like religion that sway a public opinion for reasons other than perceived personal gain. In fact we have still yet to ask where this initial conception of women being property even came from. That does not logically stem from tribal prostitution, especially if we’re going to choose to interpret their systems of that as being female-dominated. Why does a father think he can sell his daughter? Why does a man think he can buy a woman? And why do we think that we need to develop a “natural” progression from tribal behaviors to this? As “logical” or “not hard at all to see” as it may appear, what we’re really discussing are ideas with slim to zero evidence for them.

          I propose, with just as much plausibility, that the concept of people as chattel arose from the formation of an elite that saw it fit to use their power and wealth to subjugate others for their own will; and that the ownership of women and control over their mates was a stemmed behavior from that.

          • June 19, 2013 at 12:06 pm

            … What is it with people missing the point with this. I am using it as a bloody example of the sort of thing that *might* in less than optimal conditions, which is to say, some place where food is less plentiful, and you can’t just catch/collect it as easily, that being able to “create” a resource, instead of finding one, becomes both a benefit to be sought after, and, in turn, a justification for giving up some autonomy, how ever unintentionally. And that, the logical “end game” of that giving up small bits of control/say in certain things, in trade for stability, and prosperity, **can** lead to the silly mess we have now, including the idea that women are not supposed to say/control anything, including themselves.

            However, it does require that a) there be some inherent inequity in tasks, early on, which was accepted as normal, and b) that the women, originally, had significant amount of the control over who was doing the mating, so that there was, in effect, something to give up, in order to gain stability, and prosperity, for their own offspring. Its not the only path we could have taken. It is, however, precisely the path that male centric societies, especially driven by religions, have followed, and even in those, there is still the “trappings” of the women deciding, more than the men, on some levels, who marries who (such as arranged marriages in Jewish traditions, via the Yenta). Some of them just went even farther than that, into abject disrespect as human beings, not just, “You go decide who the kids marry, but I get to make the decisions about pretty much every other damn thing that at all matters.”

          • June 19, 2013 at 12:15 pm

            Oh, and you are correct about the elite. My point was, “How do you get elite, and why would the women involved allow such a thing to happen?” Well, you get that by someone having a resource no one else does, saying, “Now I get to make the rules on who gets this.”, and the women in that persons lives going, “Well, ok, but.. just on this subject.” It can’t be some sort of sudden, one day women are equals, or in control of important details of tribal life, and the next, they don’t. There had to be a trade off.

            And, the whole “prostitution” thing is only one of the variations. Its not the only one, and the key factor, in all cases, is, “The men in the tribes don’t get to, or think they should have, all the say in a relationship.” So.. Where do you think “elites” came from, and how that might, inevitably, change the equations, both for a) women in general, and b) women trying to land themselves one of those elites, instead of just the other guy, two huts over, who is still going out all day, trying to catch rabbits, and often not coming back with anything? To me, it seems reasonable that you can’t get elites, without a resource shift, and once you have them, it becomes easy for people to give up a bit, a little at a time, without realizing how much is being lost. It the frog in a pot syndrome. A big change, all at once, and the frog jumps out. A slow increase in heat (or injustices in this case) and the frog never notices its getting too hot.

          • June 20, 2013 at 11:16 am

            Again though you’re assuming willful compliance without any real evidence. And the development of an elite can stem from any preponderance of situations: leadership in war, success at farming, success at claiming land from others through any means, success at developing a religious doctrine that manipulates people. A resource shift is not the necessary component here, but resources disparity. And that can arise from a willful or non-willful shift, or from a group just being good at doing something in particular.

            We needn’t at all ask where the elite comes from though, unless you’re suggesting that the process of women giving up rights or privileges is what creates an elite (I don’t think you’re saying that). My entire point too is that there are mechanisms by which an elite can effect divisions between genders, such as by religion, that aren’t at all predicated on a compliance of women to that end. Your prostitution discussion, if it is just an example instead of a necessary step in the general behavioral evolution you’ve proposed, is still no less disjunct from evidence.

            “Its not the only path we could have taken. It is, however, precisely the path that male centric societies, especially driven by religions, have followed”

            And where is the evidence for this? Where is the evidence that women have been complicit in giving up their control over who sleeps with whom, and that this also stems into practically every other bit of control they had (note the underlying – unproven though asserted by you through induction – assumption even to that question: women always had control prior)? Why do you cling to this resource-centric paradigm?

            When you say “**can**”, that’s entirely my point. You “can” come up with a loose and plausible scenario under which the current gender disparity comes about. You “have” done so in fact: women willingly gave up their prior power for resources. And I gave a counter-scenario, which also has plausibility, that this wasn’t a marginal utility game gone horribly wrong but that this was caused by factors like religion and conceptions of human chattel generated by an elite. But the whole point that counter-example was trying to get at was evidence – show evidence for your assertions, don’t just give me plausible musings.

        • June 19, 2013 at 11:19 am —

          What? What is that word-salad actually saying?

        • June 20, 2013 at 12:52 pm —

          Your post makes my anthropology senses tingle. Not in a good way.

          If you look at obscure tribes, and I mean obscure enough that they don’t have, or just don’t much care, about genetic descent, you can find human behavior that would almost make bonobo embarassed.

          I don’t even know what this means. “Obscure tribes”? Give an example? Also, no one “much cared” about “genetic descent” until quite recently, and even today many people don’t care about “genetic descent.” That’s a thoroughly ethnocentric way of looking at things.

          And nothing embarrasses bonobos. =P

          Though, ironically, one study on them showed that if you introduce the idea of “buying” food, by having to insert colored pellets into a machine, to get the food out, the females “immediately” figured out how to get the males to buy them dinner -> prostitution.

          Citation needed. I don’t even know what this means. Are you talking about bonobos or “an obscure tribe”?

          One of those obscure tribes actually has the women go around, decide which woman in their group will share a guys hut for the night (and usually not the same one twice in a row) then “require” the men to pay for it, by fetching the evening meal.

          Citation needed. Also ethnocentric to equate having men in a different society provide a meal with “paying” for sex. It makes the assumption that they think the same way about sex and value and economics as we do.

          And, I think its rather amusing that, in both cases, its not the men that invented/are-in-charge-of the idea **at all**.

          That’s not at all surprising if you were to read through some historical and ethnographic accounts of gender roles cross-culturally.

          But, if we presume a start where this, or even something a bit less extreme (like just not having a long term “marriage” concept, or even an idea that a baby looking like the father isn’t pure coincidence, etc., then.. its not hard to image moving to a less… optimal environment, it getting harder for the men to all come back with someone, or show “equal standing”, and a shift, even among the women, towards the idea that some people are more equal than others, and they thus make “better” choices for having kids with.

          Are you suggesting that we look at modern foraging societies as sort of living fossils to tell us about our own past?

          Its also, I don’t think, hard to see why, when Rome and so many other cultures came semi-close to breaking much of it, it never happened until now. We hardly need to hunt, nor the strength to do so. Everyone is a “hunter gatherer”, in the grocery store.

          Yep. You are. Stop that.

          No, everyone is not a hunger/gatherer in a grocery store. That’s an absurd statement that demonstrates a complete lack of understanding about what foragers actually do. People in grocery stores are industrialists or agriculturalists (or perhaps horticulturalists if they live in areas that have been colonized/neoliberalized), not hunter/gatherers. There’s a whole slew of literature in anthropology that you should read instead of making up just-so stories like the one above. It’s not based in the reality of how the world works–it’s based in uninformed, ethnocentric assumptions about what foragers do and who they are. It’s the sort of shit that Steven Pinker and Jared Diamond do that so pisses us anthropologists off because it’s armchair anthropology that has no basis in the literature or theory.

          • June 20, 2013 at 4:21 pm

            Gah, thanks, Will. I didn’t even know what to do about asking for unpacking of current, well researched social structures, and getting some weird form of hypothetical anthro-evo-psyche (that was apparently all a joke?) in return.

    • June 22, 2013 at 11:39 pm —

      I have done experiments of the sort you suggest. Didn’t get beyond 20 cities with 5 profiles each though.

      The men get far more replies. Every single one of which turned out to be from scam artists trying to get men to sign up for sleazy adult hook up sites (that also turn out to be scams).

      I didn’t bother to go further because I really couldn’t see how to design something better. Grindr works so well for gays because there is no asymmetry. None of the models I ran suggested a handle on making a hetero site stable. The women get carpet bombed by the males which drives them away. So the gender balance tips and it gets uglier.

      OKCupid seems to work fairly well for what it is designed for.

  4. June 18, 2013 at 2:30 am —

    To quote Ricky Gervais: We’d all like to write our own reviews.
    Leave it to the rest of us to work out whether you’re nice or not.

  5. June 18, 2013 at 9:28 am —

    Interesting article. This particular sentence was a bit confusing to me though.

    “Demanding of free stuff? All those free drinks don’t exactly rectify the wage gap.”

    It kinda sounds like you may be implying that chivalry is a solution to the wage gap, or that, the expectation for heterosexual men to shower the women they’re courting with financial gifts is good because it offsets wage discrimination. Didn’t know if you were actually arguing that, so just seeking clarification really.

    • June 18, 2013 at 11:53 am —

      I wasn’t arguing anything like that, just saying that even if women get all of the free stuff that the Nice Guys claim they do, that doesn’t exactly solve any problems related to inequality.

  6. June 18, 2013 at 2:49 pm —

    Heina, I really enjoyed this post and your honesty. And it got me thinking about some of the research I’ve read about certain aspects of human attraction and preferences in sexual partners and what some of the research indicates about how early certain likes and dislikes are set and how important life experiences are through puberty and adolescence in mapping out inclinations and sexual appetites. At some level I suppose the burden is on parents to set the stage for their children to be decent and not judge others by unrealistic cultural standards, however given what I constantly hear parents say to their young children where looks often seem to equate with a child’s value and moral standing and adding what is reinforced in the media, I’m only mildly optimistic and somewhat hopeful about future generations and mostly because of people like you having a voice and using it.

  7. June 19, 2013 at 8:01 pm —

    “friend-zone nice guys while dating and sexing up jerks”

    Oh come on. Are you saying that women never complain about other women’s boyfriends? If so I got a lot of counter-examples. Women complain about their own boyfriends then quickly tell you that they are not looking to change. We all know people who leave toxic relationships for another that is just as bad. Men do it too but they are generally 80lbs heavier and the risk factors are different.

    Being a nice guy does not mean you are entitled, true. But if all the women calling themselves feminists pass over the nice guys and go date obnoxious sexist jerks it sends a mixed message to say the least.

    As for caring about the appearance of the parts of your body that are normally clothed: Don’t. Just Don’t. Men who say they do are just lying. Other than hygiene issues or evidence of social diseases, the only thing that a man might find between a woman’s legs that would put him off sex is a penis.

    Making derogatory remarks as a strategy for getting them into bed is known as ‘negging’. The idea behind the strategy is to make the woman feel that the man considers her worthless. Thus raising the man’s perceived status relative to the woman.

    I don’t know if it works, I have never tried it but Richard Feynman describes using something of the sort in his autobiography.

    • June 25, 2013 at 4:04 pm —

      Of course women complain about their boyfriends/husbands/partners. I never said that they didn’t.

      And I suppose that, by your logic, all the men on all of those forums and websites are all constantly lying all the time? Why don’t you go tell them that instead of telling me so? Regardless of whether or not they’re lying, their unquestioned consensus causes problems. Furthermore, you can hardly call it “negging” when the comments are by men for the presumed viewing by other men, not directed at a particular woman in the hopes of getting into her pants.

    • June 25, 2013 at 4:05 pm —

      Oh, and how could I miss your trans* phobic remark? Please refrain from such quips in future.

  8. June 22, 2013 at 11:12 pm —

    The problem with terms like ‘nice guys’ is that the ironic use tends to get lost.

    Sounds to me like these were not nice guys at all but men who were playing a particular game of manipulation. I once read a piece by a professional dominatrix who explained how she would start off a session by having the sub kiss her shoe. No matter what the sub did, it would never be right. He would have to try again and again.

    There is a group of folk who call themselves speed seduction experts who claim that the same approach works on women. According to them telling a woman a compliment will diminish the relative status of the male and make him less desirable. But insulting her will have the opposite effect (allegedly).

    I have no data on the success of the approach, but the people behind it have certainly sold a lot of books and so one presumes that there are a lot of men who try it as a seduction strategy. The ‘science’explanation they give is quite definitively bogus (NLP).

    The reason I found out about it was I was writing a book on Internet crime and was looking at online dating safety. One of the peculiar things about the online dating guides was that the chapter on safety came right at the back – including in the guide that was a try it as you read the book type guide. Anyway while I was discussing this with a woman in the book store she said I should read a book by one of the self styled seduction experts so I could warn women about them.

    The odd thing was that while reading the book I started to vaguely recognize names. Many of the people mentioned turned out to be associates of a notorious Internet criminal. Since the criminal in question specialized in manipulating people (social engineering) it was interesting to note how he went about getting sex.

    Of course it is possible that the reason it works (if it does work) is that the men advertise themselves as ‘safe ‘ in a different way: There is little risk of falling in love with them.

    • June 25, 2013 at 4:06 pm —

      How is it “manipulation” when exactly none of them were trying to get in my pants? They were expressing their attitudes, not trying to sleep with me.

      • June 25, 2013 at 6:56 pm —

        How do you know what was going on in their minds? All you could see was they were treating you like dirt.

        There are two possibilities, one is that they were trying to get in your pants by making you feel insecure and inadequate so that any future expressions of minor respect made you feel grateful. Another is that they were trying to get off with another women and they were treating you like dirt to show what alpha males they were.

        Its not just men who do this sort of thing. There is often an ‘in-crowd’ that raises their personal status by being exclusive. In schools the bully establishes status by picking on some random kid who they label ‘weak’.

        The seduction community has taken it much further though, they developed a strategy called ‘the pivot’ where to get the prettiest girl in the room to talk with them they first start talking to another woman they consider more approachable. Then they take that woman with them as they open a conversation with the target. This makes them less threatening (they already have a partner) and higher status (they have attracted someone).

        • June 25, 2013 at 7:08 pm —

          They weren’t “treating me like dirt,” they were expressing their preferences in a place where I could see it. In some contexts, the men in question didn’t even know that a girl was watching them have their conversation. See http://skepchick.org/2013/05/thecomments/ for an extended description of the context from which I am speaking. Again, they were guys speaking to other guys about their preferences, not men talking to women poorly in the hopes of sex.

          • June 26, 2013 at 9:46 am

            No, you did not make that context clear. Still it seems like you have already discovered the seduction community creeps of which I speak in the kickstarter thread.

            Seriously, you were feeling inadequate because you felt your bod does not match up to the standards set by the heavily photoshopped and airbrushed images online? Even the models themselves don’t match up to those standards without help, often surgical.

            I used to feel inadequate as I spent a lot of time at Oxford, CERN and MIT where I frequently met people who are a lot smarter than me. Then after a while I realized that nobody was consistently smart and even Turing Award winners don’t know everything even in their fields.

          • June 26, 2013 at 11:10 am

            “Seriously, you were feeling inadequate because you felt your bod does not match up to the standards set by the heavily photoshopped and airbrushed images online?”

            No, I felt inadequate because as photoshopped and airbrushed and surgical or whatever as those images are, the men online found fault with them. To quote myself: “The problem was that they didn’t stop at “she’s hot” and instead defended their lack of interest in the women they found unappealing with incredible vitriol. Their vicious verbal evisceration of images of women whom I found to be impossibly attractive led me to wonder how exactly I could hope to be found beautiful by anyone but my mother. Any dissent from the overall opinion of women was so rare that, out of all the things I saw in the hours and hours I spent online, I can remember the specific instances when it occurred.”

          • June 26, 2013 at 8:51 pm

            Yes, most guys are complete dicks. Sorry ’bout that.

          • July 1, 2013 at 8:00 pm

            Many men feel that other men judge them on the perceived adherence to norms of their expressed preferences. To be fair, that’s probably true. Those are also going to be disproportionally the ones commenting on a woman’s appearance in a male-dominated forum.

            It’s interesting to note all the ways society actually abuses men, and how many of those ways are *really* aimed at women.

        • June 25, 2013 at 7:18 pm —

          You can’t seriously be arguing that random dudes on the Internet commenting on pictures of naked women were secretly trying to “neg” a girl they didn’t even know was reading and absorbing their comments.

  9. July 8, 2013 at 11:09 am —

    And thank you, Heina, for the sidebar advertisement of ChineseWomenDate.com. The size-0, large-chested Asian woman shown in the ad would have NO problem getting picked up in a bar.

    http://i1333.photobucket.com/albums/w631/jimporter69/heina_ad_zps70cb7d92.jpg

    There is a link to the screenshot I took last night so you can let us know if you think she would have problems or not… getting picked up in a bar that is.

    • July 8, 2013 at 1:46 pm —

      You’d have to ask her. Also, I hope it goes without saying but I didn’t personally place that ad.

      • July 11, 2013 at 10:11 pm —

        There is no way you would place that ad or the one that is currently on this page. I would not place them on my blog either. I am still skeptical as to whether it is a real person.

        I can’t ask her. She is an illusion.

  10. July 10, 2013 at 10:45 pm —

    These discussions are always so disheartening to me. Women are continuously methodically and systematically judged by men in sexual or diminutive ways–sometimes in obvious ways and sometimes in less obvious ways by well-intentioned men. My only hope is that society can somehow find a way to reduce gender bias to such an obscurity that it almost doesn’t exist. I am afraid, though, that it will take generations, if it ever happens.

  11. May 11, 2014 at 4:18 pm —

    I’m going to skip over most of the comments thread this time, but I might come back and read them later. I just wanted to say that I enjoyed reading this, and I’ve read several other articles about Nice Guys. My sister introduced me to the term in 2010 to describe someone who was trying to wheedle his way into bed with me, to which I was oblivious until she pointed it out. There’s a section about guys like that on Heartless Bitches International: http://heartlessbitchesinternational.com/rants/niceguys/ng.shtml

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