This is a health blog, so most of you expect recipes, workout tips and lifestyle posts. But to ignore societal problems is a gross inattentiveness to the health of our society. This series of essays entitled Feminist Letters is a collection of my thoughts on why feminism is still needed in our society, all based in current events and personal experiences.
Part II: Nice Guys
Last year, a friend of mine had an experience with a male friend of hers. They’d been close for a while, but he had recently started making moves on her and got very angry when she turned him down. He wouldn’t talk to her anymore, sulked a lot and told her that even looking at her, “made [him] depressed.”
The second stop on our road trip to understanding the harmful escalation of patriarchal systems is–you guessed it–the Nice Guys. I want to take a moment to distinguish between nice guys (a man who happens to do a nice thing or have a nice demeanor) and Nice Guys (who are those that make friends with women or other men just in the interest of eventually dating them). Nice Guys often appear to be wonderful people at the beginning of a friendship, but that friendship often devolves when said Nice Guy asks for a date or sex, and is turned down.
At face value, their argument makes sense, sort of. “I’m very kind to you, so I would make a good partner,” is what the message seems to be. However, what they’re really trying to communicate is something along the lines of, “I pretended to be platonically interested in you for long enough, when am I allowed in your pants?”
Just because a man is nice to a woman doesn’t entitle him to… well, anything. Do we as a society have such low expectations of men that we think they should be rewarded for doing something everyone should be doing anyways?
The danger of lowered expectations is a formidable one; it’s what allows the sentiment that “boys will be boys.” It’s what makes a father watching the kids on his partner’s night out an action to be applauded. It’s what makes the Nice Guys able to generate sympathy when they’re turned down. Because, hey, he was a reasonable human being! Shouldn’t he get a date with you?
Our society sees women as objects–and in this case, trophies. Trophies that symbolize that a guy seemed like a good enough person to warrant female attention. And women really, really don’t like being commodified. If Nice Guys are finishing last, maybe that’s for a reason.
This isn’t an easy fix, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be remedied. Once we can get rid of the idea of women as a commodity, we can then move onto taking down the system in which men are held to a lower standard.
Thank you so much for reading. If you haven’t already seen Part I, do so here. Come back next week for Part III, which I think will be about the political and social war on women.