I don’t know why I keep writing about topics that I know are confronting, but they keep being front of mind for me, so here we go.
I’ve been thinking a lot about “Nice Guys” lately.
Probably cos I’m surrounded by them.
Which makes sense cos I don’t tend to surround myself with misogynists or the types of people who make rape jokes or whatever toxic dudes do these days.
And honestly, I don’t think that type surround themselves with people like me… cos generally, outspoken feminist types who call them out don’t spark joy for them.
So a lot of my closest friends are very nice, mindful, woke guys who know wassup. They are generally allies of the ladies, anti-sexist, anti-racist, anti-homophobic etc. Trying to stand up and do the right thing when it arises (although when I wrote that blog calling guys out, a lot told me they want to do better).
And let’s be real, a lot of these guys are very super supportive of me and have been really important for helping me through some rough times. So maybe this is a quick way of losing friends. But we’ll see 😅
I’ve noticed recently that it’s quite easy for these guys that I hang out with to let me down.
And that’s not to say that they’re necessarily doing awful things – I’ve seen awful things and been on the receiving end of those things. This ain’t necessarily that.
It’s more like… if you’ve positioned yourself as a “Nice Guy” and I’ve put you on the pedestal of “Nice Guy”, there’s a level of belief that I have that you’d never do anything that’s overtly or covertly, consciously or subconsciously, sexist.
Which, honestly, just isn’t a reasonable expectation of being a man living in a patriarchy.
It’s not even a reasonable expectation of a woman living in a patriarchy.
But it still fucking hurts to see when I have such high hopes and expectations of people. The higher the hope, the further you fall (did I just make up a saying?).
And I’m trying to figure out why I’m writing this… But I think I know the point I’m getting to.
We’re not perfect. No one is perfect.
So when you put yourself into the category of “Nice Guy” because you’re not a rapist. Or don’t make “make me a sandwich” jokes. Or just cos you generally love and respect women. It doesn’t mean that you’re not capable of being a low-key sexist douche now and then.
And that is important to remember.
Cos when we’re all living out here thinking we’re wonderful cos we don’t act like a Chad, it’s easy to forget to work on ourselves and keep holding ourselves accountable for the ways that sometimes we’re actually just a more palatable version of a Chad.
Still capable of microaggressions. And, honestly, just some generally shitty behaviour if I’m honest.
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There are lots of ways we can uphold power structures without meaning to.
Especially if we decide we’ve done the hard yards in the self-education and deep chats with friends, and are now feel officially like a good human who can’t actually cause harm.
I know that, for example, and this feels like a weird flex, but as a fairly attractive, skinny woman, I do not have a true understanding of what it’s like to not exist somewhere within the societally acceptable beauty standard and be treated terribly because of it. Even if I’m not the standard, I’m close enough to it to not know what it’s like to be treated like I’m outside of it.
Sometimes I think I understand fatphobia because I can see how I’m treated on the flip end of the spectrum – e.g. getting all the compliments when I was super sick and lost an unhealthy amount of weight.
So let’s be real, the likelihood that I have fucked off someone cos I said something that is a microaggression towards bigger folks is probably really high. And that’s a hard pill to swallow cos I feel like that’s not me – I’m a good person and I don’t want to hurt anyone.
But I’m also human and will make mistakes, as long as I don’t believe I’ve gotten to the end of my journey and stop the continual learning and growth that is required when it comes to things as personal and complex as this.
I see Nice Guys do the same thing a lot.
It’s the talking over women, inserting yourself into women’s conversations that you weren’t invited into, only being friends with, and respecting, women that you find conventionally attractive.
Pitting women against each other, being exceptionally harsh or blunt to women in a way you wouldn’t to men, over-protectiveness to the point of paternalism.
And any other microaggression that falls in the spectrum of this low-level sexism.
Actually, the paternalism is probably the most insidious thing I’ve noticed for myself personally lately. Maybe because I get it from a lot of people, regardless of gender, when it comes to my health and people thinking that they can decide for me, or tell me, what I should or shouldn’t do, even though I’m a big girl in my 30s and it’s blatantly up to me to ruin my own life if I so wish.
But when it’s men trying to control what I do, or manage other women and their lives based on what they think they should do, for their own good. It’s a superiority complex that you know better than us just because you’re men.
We see you do it and we don’t appreciate it.
So that’s also worth reflecting on tbh. I see it a lot. And honestly, I can see how it’d be easy to do considering you guys care so much, and only want the best for your friends. But a great rule of thumb is, if you wouldn’t treat your male friends that way, maybe don’t do it to the women in your life.
If you act questionably – and you know what you do in your private life more than I do (but girls talk… remember that) – and still project yourself as a Nice Guy to the world, that’s honestly more insidious than a fuck boi being a fuckwit.
It’s a lot more scary and concerning when your sweet cat you’ve had for years who has never done anything wrong to your knowledge attacks a child at your house out of nowhere then acts normal again.
Compared to if that raggedy stray down the street that you tell the child cross the street to avoid one day attacks that kid. Cos at least you could see that one coming.
Your guard wasn’t down. You didn’t trust it so much you’d bring it into your house. It never pretended to be something it wasn’t to manipulate you into believing you’d always be safe.
Better the enemy you know, than the one you don’t. And all that.
I don’t want this to be a callout post
Or maybe it is, but it’s for all of us.
It’s front of mind because I keep seeing my friends hurt because of guys they perceived to be “one of the good ones” either treating them like a piece of meat, or just not treating them nicely, but while also existing within the “Nice Guy” narrative as if that was just a one-off.
And, unfortunately, same with me. I’ve lost some trust in the guys around me because of their behaviour. And it really sucks.
But also, like with anything, this doesn’t exist within a vacuum. And I can see how it’s a really good reminder for me to evaluate myself as an ally – especially as a person who positions myself as an ally to all sorts of marginalised groups, quite specifically, on my blogs and on social media.
If Nice Guys can be sexist when their actions don’t go unexamined, then it’ll be the same for white people being racist, and straight people being homophobic.
We don’t have to be the really malicious, thoughtless types of people to unintentionally perpetuate the same old shit that we claim to be against.
And it’s worth thinking about, looking inwards, and aiming for continual growth.
There’s no need for self-flagellation when you fuck up. It’s good enough to just apologise and grow as a human.
And go to therapy.
Seriously. Go to therapy.
You think you don’t need it, but you do.
Thanks for coming to my Ted Talk. And thanks for being supportive Nice Guys! I still love and appreciate you, but I got my eye on you 😘😘😘