Nice guys, Nice Guys™, and Nice Guys℠
Until recently, the phrase “nice guy” denoted nothing more to me than the usual meaning that those words would ordinarily convey to native speakers of English, something akin to “kind fellow” or maybe “pleasant bloke.” This is presumably because I slept through Feminism 101 and never showed up to my assigned pick-up artist lectures. Fairly recently, though, I’ve discovered that the phrase has two distinct meanings, each fairly well disconnected from the original.
Here is the first one, courtesy of feminist theory:
“[A] male with a fixation on seducing women by being nice to them, most stereotypically by providing a woman with emotional support when she is having difficulties with another male partner.”
This sort of man is referred to as a Nice Guy™ where the TM presumably stands for “Terrible Male” because they are not actually nice to women at all, but are ”in reality only motivated by attempts to passively please women into a relationship and/or sex” and expect some form of “sexual ‘payment’ for their kindness and generosity.” I’ve never actually met anyone like this, but then I have to presume that they exist or else why would so many women be writing about it?
On the other side of the Deep Rift between the genders, we have the Pick-Up Artist community, who seem to think that a nice guy is someone who is genuinely kind and polite but generally finds that this gets him nowhere with the ladies, because he lacks a proper sense of “entitlement” as they say. In PUA parlance, the Nice Guy is:
The typical [Average Frustrated Chump] who is very nice and polite to people, but oftentimes lacks a certain selfishness that conveys his own self worth and attractiveness.
I’m going to dub this sort of fellow the Nice Guy℠ where SM stands for “Sensitive Male” because he sounds like a generally pleasant bloke, who apparently has recurring trouble with the sort of women whom the PUA community prefer to target. So far as I can tell, the PUA’s don’t seem to consider the possibility that interpersonal kindness can sometimes lead to fulfilling long-term relationships, but then I have to presume that this sort of thing isn’t generally on their to-do list.
The key similarity between the Nice Guy™ and the Nice Guy℠ is that neither one is considered worthwhile in and of himself, or in relation to his male peers, but both are evaluated solely in terms of their relations with women. The key differences between the Nice Guy™ and the Nice Guy℠ is that the former is feigning niceness because he feels entitled to sexual reward, while the latter is genuinely nice because he does not feel entitled enough. Where the feminists see sexual predators bent upon seduction by feigned friendship, the masculists see friendly but frustrated chumps who generally fail at seduction precisely because they see friendship as a viable path to love.
I’m not sure whether I find the feminist or the masculist reconceptualization of this hitherto innocuous phrase more offensive to my personal sensibilities, but surely the idea that men should be considered primarily in terms of their sexual relationships (or lack thereof) runs profoundly against the less-than-radical notion that men are people – ends in and of themselves – to be accorded a certain human dignity regardless of whether they consistently attract (or are attracted to) women.
Having never actually dated as an adult, I can only know about the dating scene from my single friends, juicy gossip, and online hearsay. That said, I’d be interested in hearing whether you guys have come across any outstanding specimens of either Nice Guys™ or Nice Guys℠ in the wild. Are they really out there, and every bit as one-dimensional as we’ve been lead to believe?