Monday, June 06, 2005

Mr. Nice Guy

I spent a large chunk of this evening involved in a futile and somewhat irritating discussion on Okayplayer (which, incidentally takes up way too much of my spare time) on the issue of the idea that 'nice guys finish last'. This was an issue I had planned to discuss on this blog at some point. Since its fresh in my mind now, and I'm frustrated at people on both sides of the fence for refusing to own up to their side's complicity or consider points of view other than their own I figured, time to write it down so I can get it out of my system and sleep better. Here goes.

The complaint is that nice guys, here taken to be quieter, more soft spoken men who treat their women as human beings rather than ambulatory sex toys, generally lose out to the 'bad boys'. They are stereotypically louder, more arrogant and more inclined to treat their women with minimal amounts of respect. Now. my reasoning here may offend some men and women equally. If you are one of the offended, I apologize. I'm here to tell the truth as I see it. If you think I'm wrong anywhere, please feel free to call me on it. Last time I checked I was far from the ultimate authority on human interaction.

Lets start off with a bit of harsh truth. Both men and women generally make incredibly wrongheaded and idiotic decisions about love/dating/mating, usually due to blindly following societal standards without ever stopping to think through whether or not those standards make sense for them. Hypermasculine, arrogant men have always been put on a pedestal as the male ideal. Don't believe me? I invite you to spend time watching male images in television, movies, music or any other aspect of pop culture. Women have certain specific ideals of appropriate female appearance and behavior. Men follow the appropriate female image even when they either have no chance of obtaining said woman or would be unhappy with the result if they were to obtain said woman, a point I attempted to make in my 'know your audience' post. Women make exactly the same mistakes in the other direction, all going after the portrayed masculine ideal, with all the problems it embodies.

Basically the problem nice guys have is that we are not what pop culture considers manly, no way around that. Accept that you aren't cool in that way and probably never will be. Also, stop chasing the socially constructed ideal for a second and figure out what truly works for the person you are. If you don't like who you are, change or go into therapy to learn to love you. Whoever you end up as, look for who fits that person. Women, the same applies. If your last 5 boyfriends treated you like hell, you might want to take a step back, figure out why you want those men, who you are and which men actually make sense for you.

That being said, there is something nice guys need to do. In the immortal words of Denzel Washington, man the f$&% up. There is a difference between confidence and arrogance, between assertiveness and obnoxiousness. We tend to not be comfortable in who we are partly because we sense that we aren't 'sexy'. This lack of confidence hurts us. It keeps us from stepping honest with ourselves and women about who we are and what we want. I've been guilty of this more times than I'm comfortable admitting. Its something I'm still working on. Its something we all need to work on. At the end of the day, the only definitions of who we are that should matter are those we make for ourselves.

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