We all know who the Nice Guys are. Not to be confused with nice men, Nice Guys (notice the capitalization) are a breed of their own. They’ll open doors for you, will ask to drop you home after you’ve hung out, might even offer to pay for your meal. But don’t let any of those smoke and mirrors fool you. The Nice Guy is a trap. A carefully constructed persona that is meant to shout ‘Hey look at me, I’m Nice, I respect women’, without every acknowledging that their ‘respect’ stems from a place of conscious or unconscious misogyny.
Don’t get me wrong, this doesn’t mean that opening a door for a woman makes you a misogynist. But thinking that you respect women just because you opened a door? Now that’s where the trouble lies. Because ultimately, the Nice Guy uses these performative niceties to convince everyone around him that he’s one of the few good men, and when the time for actual ally-ship comes around, they balk at what is being demanded of them. ‘What do you mean my niceness has to be consistent?’ he seem to say when he’s told that his niceness must extend further than he thought.
Because the Nice Guy will waste no moment in calling a woman a bitch for refusing his advances. Nor will he think twice before dismissively accusing women of being ‘over-sensitive’ at the slightest show of annoyance or anger. And when she asks for her rights, he will point to himself and ask her why she’s complaining about rights when she has nice guys like him in her life. Like I said before, this sort of guy thinks that doing one act of niceness for women is basically a Get Out Of Jail Free card. That because they’re doing two decent things, it means they can’t ever be in the wrong.
This may sound like generalization, but it’s not. I’m thinking about two friends in university who would constantly poke fun at me despite my clear annoyance, and then when I blew up at them one day, they responded by saying they had thought I was one of the boys, but clearly I’m just a girl. Or about my sister’s friend, who thought that Aurat March and the women’s right movement were silly, because his mother and sister are working women and no one stops them, nor do they experience any difficulty. Or the guy my friend dated who seemed surprised that she wanted to hang out with her male friends now that she had a boyfriend. All four of these men, when called out on their misogynistic and sexist attitudes, were shocked at the accusations of sexism.
They all pointed towards their many shining qualities — “We think of you as a little sister”, or “I believe in women’s rights, I just think they already have all of them”, or “I know how guys think, I’m just protecting you” — and asked how they could ever be sexist. But turns out, you can be. Such is the duality of man.
A comedian once had a bit where they said “If a guy ever straight up says to you ‘Just so you know, I would never hit a woman’, you’d better run as far as you can because no one who doesn’t want to hit you would need such a disclaimer.” This is the truth of the Nice Guy. No one who is actually nice, and respectful would ever need to shout about their niceness from rooftops. So the next time someone says they’re a nice guy who respects women, save yourself the trouble and run.