Wednesday, May 28, 2014

"Nice Guys" #YesAllWomen

The Rodger shooting and the #YesAllWomen hashtag are pulling up a lot of memories for me, among them a time when I stood in my waitress uniform in front of a group of male coworkers who were talking to me about what they viewed as the primary problem in the world. It was this: that girls like me didn't go for "nice guys" like them.

But here's the thing. Their approach didn't feel "nice." It felt threatening and manipulative.

They were right, to a certain extent. I was young and restless and full of uncertainty about my future. I was mostly interested in having fun with my friends, and I tended to be attracted to the kind of guy who wasn't likely to get serious or weigh me down.Were they nice? I don't know, but they were a lot of fun.

And yes, I got caught in my own trap. I fell in love, in spite of myself, and I got my heart broken, again and again. But it was my choice. My life. My risks.

I knew what "nice guy" meant. Nice guys were the once who came to me with the weight of expectation, dreaming of love and ever-after and wanting me to fill some role in their lives that actually had very little to do with me. They weren't the ones who came out onto the dance floor with me and my friends. They were the ones who watched from the side, wishing we would stop dancing and come sit with them. Nice guys wanted me to sit still and stare lovingly into their eyes. They didn't understand that at that time in my life I was all about movement. They claimed to "like" me, but they actually didn't really like much about me at all.

I can't think of a single nice thing that those "nice guy" male coworkers had ever done for me, though one of them was in training to be a minister and perhaps assumed that that was credential enough. I know that each was standing in front of me certain that if "a girl like me" would just give him a chance he could provide her with everything that he had decided she must want.

I probably should have told those guys they were full of shit, but I didn't. I smiled and played dumb and mumbled something noncommittal like "I don't know." Because even then, I knew that it wasn't the so called "bad boys" who were truly dangerous. The ones you really needed to watch out for were the self-proclaimed "nice guys" with the simmering resentment.

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  1. Right on, Rebecca!

    Elliot Rodger wasn't even a nice guy -- he was a racist, sexist, classist, over-entitled pathetic excuse of a human being. Not a shy, anxious, autistic and somewhat social awkward guy... but a 100% vile one. A guy so vile that nobody wanted anything to do with him.

    "Nice guys" aren't actually nice. They're guys just like Elliot, who for some unfathomable reason really, truly believe girls should like them simply because they exist.

  2. love this. thanks for writing. i love the difference: nice guy does not = good man.

  3. So true! There was one guy at college who yelled at me in public because I had SO much time to spend with this one guy friend but none to give to him. Thankfully, my roommate was there and as we walked away, she said, "Girl, he is all kinds of crazy." We laughed about it later. I mean, really, how dare I chose who I invest my time in! You know, because Angry Yelling Man was so nice - nice enough to "hold me accountable" in public - that I was obviously obligated to spend time with him. I never did. I kept spending time with the guy friend who was like a brother. We never dated, but he understood my humor, knew that at least two pots of coffee were a given if we went to IHOP, and taught me that I had no obligations to a guy just because he was nice to me.


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