What is a nice guy?
I have met many, or so I was told. They sat across from me on first dates, deeply sniffing a wine and commenting on the forenotes of fruitiness before asking if I “read much?” They tell stories about their love of Kafka; pausing only to look at me with this sad little knowing smile. To a child, they tell me much about the books I have already read. They explain words I learned and used well before them. When I try to interupt, to explain that, yes, I read, and as a matter of fact Kafka is right next to Dante on my bedside, I am talked down. Talked over.
The nice men don’t understand why being nice isn’t working. Women, I guess, are strange creatures to them. When we are approached on the subway and told we are pretty; when we only flash quiet tight smiles, it is an affront. They were only trying to be nice, it’s not their fault that our bodies are ships that others want to pirate. We should know by the smell of your rose lips that nice men – they exist. It is my fault for being so goddamn difficult. Nice men decide for me it is their duty to inform me of my physical accommodation to their pleasure. That compliments have never come as knives, a cage to suffocate the bird in. That because they used “pretty” and not “hot,” We should be sure that we are safe, that nice men only want us to hear what’s best for us. We’ll miss it when we’re older. Nice men are doing us a favor, until we don’t smile for them. Then they are nice men telling us we are bitches, sluts.
The nice men are only trying to help. Women won’t take it, because we are all dumb wild animals bumping our blind eyes against “jerks” who don’t know what we really need. We don’t even know what we really need. What we need is a nice guy, and the nice men are there for that; to force her into situations where she stands to lose a close friend again because he couldn’t stop seeing her as a sex object. She doesn’t know it, but she needs him.
Nice men tell me a lot about myself; without my mouth ever opening. Nice men tell me I’m too stupid for my own good and need to be explained every little thing, that I don’t know if I’m worthy until I cause attraction, that I can’t even make my own sexual decisions.
Nice men, I am told, are not like other men. Nice men sometimes even call themselves feminists and then write poems about how hard it is to be a male feminist. Nice men are artists with their dark disney princesses, are pleasantly amused by the efforts of queer girls, offer shading advice to someone with headphones in. Nice men tell you while you’re buying roof tiles to go get your boyfriend. Nice men don’t understand why we flinch when the label “nice guy” explodes in our faces.
We are silent in all of this, an active object that they fondle with their meaty mitts. They assume our little chickadee brains can’t conquer poetry. They teach without being asked for a lesson. They insert their opinion. They know better than we do, about our bodies, about what is best for us. We are a curious thing to them, that does not bend, that talks back on other frequencies, says silly girly things like “I read,” “Of course I knew that,” “I saved a life once,” “I don’t feel comfortable with a strange man approaching me,” “I am able of knowing who I should be dating,” “I am a human and I have my own life, am not hive mind, have my own experiences and values and feelings and you should stop assuming things about me.“
Who told the nice men they are nice? What did they do to deserve that label? Was it be a decent person to that poor underclass of women? Did you deign to find them human? What does a nice man do that is nice besides tell me he is nice? What do the nice guys do? Did they ask us if we felt comfortable with the type of nice they offer? Did they ask us how to be nice or did they just all talk in one big group until some rules appeared, some “nice guy” guide. Is there a ceremony where nice girls and nice guys all sit around while the nice men sip wine and talk about how nice it is to be nice, did you know they once held a door and didn’t spit on her? The whole time us silly girls with our silly wildflower wilting hearts, we melt as these nice men glisten.
Maybe the reason they think they are nice men is because they don’t ever stop to listen.
i want everyone to know that, since posting this a day ago, even with my ask off, i received not one, not two, but twenty-two [and counting] direct messages from men who are very nice men, telling me that they are nice men; and this sort of thing isn’t nice to nice men, and how in their experience, i’m wrong, and if they could just explain that while certainly there are those nice men, not all nice men are like that. that i should stop taking people being nice seriously, please calm down, if i don’t like it don’t look at it. that i met the wrong sort of nice men, as if my entire experience (and that of all the women in the tags who groan and agree) – well… it’s very lovely and written well but it’s simply not real nice men who are like this. it is remarkable to me these men think i have been in some sort of all-female society where i have only met a handful of these people, where my experience with men is not statistically viable. that i simply don’t know what i’m talking about, and really, the following eight paragraphs will set me straight on just how much of a nice guy they are; should i really be attacking them like that? do i want to be a bitch?
“well, ex-cuse me,” one man writes in the comments.
you’re excused. please leave.