Friday, May 23, 2008

A Reader Comments


Recently I did a follow up piece to The Submissive Male Construct and Nice Guys after receiving a thoughtful comment from a reader. The follow up piece, Revisiting: The Submissive Male Construct and Nice Guys
also drew reader comments and today I would like to focus in on one of those comments.

“As a woman, I hear a lot of men whine about not being able to find partners. This rant sounds almost exactly the same, with just a couple words changed here and there. They are all self-described "nice guys" or "submissive guys". Then they attribute the single fact that prevents them from romantic success. They ignore their choices, their personality, their lifestyle, their emotional and mental state, their cock size, their hygiene, their hair color, their dating habits, their finances - everything. If he can't find a woman to date it's because he's so "nice/submissive" and women secretly want "dominant/macho/jerks" men. Isn't that pitiful?

I have also found that there is a species of "nice guy" who seems to be remarkably emotionally manipulative. I think men can find themselves self-identifying as nice, when the truth is they are unable to assert their needs and boundaries in an honest, direct, and healthy way. When their unspoken needs are unmet, they can become passive aggressive.

This is the single most common reason I choose not to enter into relationships with "nice guys". I *like* submissive men. I do *not* like whiny passive aggressive guys reeking of desperation. I'd often rather date an honest "jerk".

(I am not trying to say that all nice/submissive men are like this. Just that there are reasons women put "nice guy" in quotes.)”

This reader does make some very valid points, points which I touched on in the original essay and in the follow up and points that were brought up in comments by other readers. Certainly there are men who wish to project themselves as nice guys, who perhaps even sincerely believe that they are nice guys, but who are as this reader states are, “emotionally manipulative”, “…unable to assert their needs and boundaries in an honest, direct, and healthy way”, and “whiny passive aggressive guys”.

From the beginning, my intent for this blog has always been to offer a forum for the open and honest exchange of opinions and ideas free from censorship which is the reason I choose not to moderate comments. Every person is unique and a product of both unique world views and opinions. People are welcome to disagree with the ideas I present here as much as they want as someone disagreeing with my ideas is never taken as a personal attack on me. In fact I value the opinions and observations of others because quite often I feel I learn something and in some instances my own opinions are sometimes changed by a well thought out and intelligent argument that proposes an alternative view. Of course in return I do reserve the right to comment on the comments with which I find myself in disagreement, and that is the reason I have chosen to address this one. The one statement I take issue with from this comment is “As a woman, I hear a lot of men whine about not being able to find partners. This rant sounds almost exactly the same, with just a couple words changed here and there.” In fairness I don’t think either essay could be fairly categorized as a “rant”. A rant at least according to Merriam-Webster is “a long angry speech or scolding” and certainly that was not my intent in writing either article. By dismissing my opinions as a “rant” I suggest the reader missed the entire point of what I have written. While she tempered her initial comments with “I am not trying to say that all nice/submissive men are like this” at the end, it seems to me that “This is the single most common reason I choose not to enter into relationships with ‘nice guys’ ” makes it rather obvious that she does in fact view all nice/submissive men in the same negative way. This makes as much sense as the argument, whales are mammals and whales live in the sea, therefore all mammals live in the sea. In the parlance of logical argument construction, this is what is called building a valid argument from false premises, and arriving at a false conclusion. Yes, whales are mammals and whales do live in the sea but that of course does not mean that all mammals live in the sea. Only some mammals do. In the same way, the argument that some men who self-identify as “nice guys” are actually manipulative, relationally dysfunctional and prone to blame others for their own short-comings, all men who self-identify as “nice guys” are manipulative, relationally dysfunctional and prone to blame others for their own short-comings, is equally false.

The true facts are quite plain, some men who self-identify as “nice guys” have some or all of the negative traits listed by the commenter, but there are in fact legitimately nice guys who do not have any of those traits. Equally true is the fact that some women ignore nice guys as potential relationship partners simply on the basis that they have a decided preference for relationships with men who are bad boy types because they find this type more interesting or challenging. I doubt very much that I would ever convince women of that type to give consideration to exploring the possibilities of a relationship with a nice guy. My only issue with such women is that quite often nice guys are more than acceptable to them as friendship material; they simply aren’t interested in having a romantic relationship with them. My intent in writing the articles was simply to appeal to women who may have held negative opinions about nice guys but don’t have a decided preference for bad boy types, to keep an open mind about the possibilities of a relationship with an authentic nice guy.

Even though I found things to disagree with in this comment, I do appreciate that this person took the time to express her opinion and I respect that a great deal. If she finds meaning in dating “honest jerks” then I see nothing wrong with that as we all have our own unique proclivities when it comes to relationship preferences.

2 comments:

M said...

Let me start by apologizing for not being more clear in what I (the commenter) said. I never imagined that you would take my comments personally. In retrospect, I should have anticipated that and spoken more clearly.

It was my intent to mention some of my personal experiences with a slightly different angle on self-identified "nice guys" who were...well...not so nice. My intent was not to disagree with you but to further illustrate where many of the stereotypes about nice and submissive men come from. The "rant" I was referring to was the "I can't find a partner because I'm such a nice/submissive guy" rant - which is hardly my characterization of your posts. I have always thought from reading your blog that you were sincere in your submission and enjoy reading your thoughtful insights.

I think you'll agree that a great deal of the reason that women are friends with submissive men but don't date them is that our society equates masculinity with aggressiveness and femininity with passive submission. I feel that many women instinctively relate these artificially defined expressions of masculinity with sex appeal. (This is going to lead me into a tangent about the desire for feminization of male submissives, but that is a point for another day.) Many women are still looking for a "provider" at a subconscious level. I hope that over time, as we raise new generations of women who can support themselves that these stereotypes will continue to shift and that it will be more socially acceptable for men to embrace a wide variety of power roles.

I am a woman who has been significantly attracted to submissive men. I will admit that early negative experiences acting on that soured "nice guys" for me in my youth. It was much simpler to date men who were aggressive and straight forward. It took a couple of exceptional submissive men for me to appreciate having such a man as an important part of my life.

~ M S

joe said...

M S,

Thank you for taking the time to craft such an eloquent clarification of your previous comment. An apology on your part is of course not necessary as the whole point of this is the free exchange of ideas and opinions. I never expect everyone to agree with all that I write and that I think is a positive because considering new perspectives is a great way to learn. As it turns out, it seems that it was I who misunderstood what you were trying to say in your initial comment. That unfortunately is the limitation of the written word. Still for whatever reason, it seems I can see more of your personality in this latest comment and I appreciate that as much as the words themselves because it helps me to understand the words better.

Joe