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20 March, 2016

Nice Guys And Misplaced Assumptions

You choose your words
Careful voice
In the end I'm not the first choice 
You say you want someone just like me 
So then why am I your plan 
Why am I your plan 
Why am I your plan B?
--Marianas Trench, "The B Team"

So this caught my eye the other day.

I just love it when people share something that's utterly devoid of context and make up their own context so they can judge it, harshly. 

A man named Matt Collins posted the following on Twitter:

OK ladies, I get it.
You don't want a pleasant evening chat.
You don't want a gentleman to walk you to your car.
You don't want a friendly dude to help carry your groceries...or hold open the door...or crush the life out of other men who would do you harm.

Fine -- fear the good guys. I guess we'll just have to suffer watching you get trampled over and over by the SCUM you think you love. 

But I want you to know it's not easy, and it hurts to see you fall. 

Give the good guys a chance to help you be less afraid of the world.

I read that and I cheered. I could have written that myself. I did write something like that myself, many many moons ago.

Then I read the rejoinder and became very, very confused.


Dear Sir, 

If you’re watching some girl you like getting hurt by another guy STOP WHINING ABOUT IT AND DO SOMETHING. Don’t leave some anonymous note on a dorm wall. If you know someone is being hurt DO. SOME. THING. 
 If you want to play the “good guy” you need to rethink your intentions. If you’re only doing it for gratification, then you aren’t being the good guy. Did Batman give up on Gotham because people weren’t thanking him for saving the city? 
 You know what I really want? I want respect. I want people to respect that I’d rather not walk with a stranger in the middle of the night. I want people to respect that I can defend myself. I want people to respect that WOMEN CAN DO THINGS WITHOUT A GENTLEMAN TO HELP. 
 You want to be a gentlemen and a good guy? Start with changing the way you and other men see women. We aren’t fragile things you need to defend. We’re people. Keep holding doors open, keep being friendly, just don’t expect things in return; you aren’t owed anything by this world. 
 If you want us to be less afraid of the world, then change the world, don’t change us.

It's funny, you know. In one sense I agree, emphatically, with every single thing in this response. How could I not? It's all true.

Just (probably) not in the context of this letter.

What's more, the woman writing this takes the SCUM behaviour Collins referred to and projects it on Collins himself. Try a little irony, Alanis, it's good for your blood.

Let's break it down, shall we?

"STOP WHINING ABOUT IT AND DO SOMETHING".

I have two responses to that.

1) Who's to say he hasn't?
2) What would she have him do?

I am a good guy. I'm almost afraid to admit it, now, because apparently "good guy" is code for "self-entitled creepy asshole". This, needless to say, is a revelation to me. I never even suspected it. I thought a good guy was a good guy. Little did I know. Women have shared this all over the web, and with follow-up replies indicating savage agreement: THIS THIS THIS WHY DOESN'T THE 'NICE GUY' JUST FUCK OFF ALREADY.

I can't speak for what Collins has actually done to support his "good guy" credentials. I suspect he has done most, if not all of the things he mentions, with the likely exception of "crush[ing] the life out of men who would do you harm". Good guys don't tend to do that. Usually it's the scum doing that TO the good guys.

Before we go any further, let's differentiate some more between scum and good guy.

Scum: I'm going to rape you until you like it. Then I'm going to dispose of you like the Kleenex you are.
Good guy: I'm the guy you come to after you've been through that. You cry on my shoulder, your feelings of disgust are thoroughly validated, and you walk away seemingly convinced you deserve better...except then you act as if you don't, and here we go round the mulberry bush again.

Scum: treats you like an object.
Good guy: treats you like a person.

Scum: cares about himself and his needs, and will only satisfy yours if it means his will be satisfied in return. Those needs, of course, are primarily sexual. Distressingly common: so common, in fact, that good guys are assumed to be scum who just hide it well.
Good guy: cares about you and your needs to the total exclusion of his own, if necessary (while privately lamenting that it always seems to be necessary). Those needs do have a sexual component--hey, contrary to popular belief, we are in fact human males with functional libidos--but they are primarily emotional. More common than we're led to believe, mostly because women (and other men) insist on assigning to us all the characteristics of scum.

What do "good guys" do when a woman they care about is being hurt? Usually we don't see it. We only get the aftermath. We comfort, we restore, we offer to intercede on your behalf with the scum and we're invariably told not to. So we don't: we just sit back and wait for the next episode.

"If you want to play the "good guy" you need to rethink your intentions."

What intentions are those, and how do you know what they are?
I'll tell you want they AREN'T: we're not looking for a notch on our bedposts. We want the same things you (say you) do: to cherish and be cherished,  to respect and be respected, to admire and be admired, and to love and be loved. We want to share your uppest ups AND your downest downs. And yes, we want to feel like the kind words you say to us -- "why can't other men be more like you?" actually have some substance behind them.

"You know what I really want? I want respect."

With all due, um, respect, many of you have a funny way of showing it. Guys who so plainly DON'T respect women never seem to lack for women...unless the ugly guys also happen to be ugly. I've never understood that. CONVICTED RAPISTS always seem to have women chasing them.  It makes no sense.

I want people to respect that I can defend myself.

We do. We're not offering to walk you home so that we can beat off the muggers (though we will if it comes to that and we do care enough about you to want to see you safely home). We're offering to walk you home for the company. EVEN IF THE COMPANY ENDS AT YOUR FRONT DOOR.

"WOMEN CAN DO THINGS WITHOUT A GENTLEMAN TO HELP"

Where did this even come from, let alone the savagery behind it? Of course you can do things without gentlemen to help. We can do things without women to help, too. Being alone is fine: being not alone is much better. Wouldn't you agree? If you don't, why are you so often seeking out the wrong type of guy?

Start with changing the way you and other men see women.

I wasn't aware there was a problem with the way I see women. Please elaborate. As for other men: I'm open to suggestions. Although, to be frank, I'm not sure what I can do to change their behaviour. I'm sorta kinda of the opinion that scum behaviour is the fault of the scum, not the nice guy, and that it's up to the scum to change...not the nice guy.

But what do I know? I thought being a good guy was a good thing. Naive of me.



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