Sunday, June 25, 2017

The Nice Guy Paradox

I’ve been male for 39 years now, and in that time I’ve learned a thing or two about other males and how we function. For the good of all I’m writing a three part series about why men generally do what we do. I write “generally” because there are many broad generalizations in what you are about to read; generalizations, anecdotal evidence, conjecture, and my own personal insight as a straight male of color. I hope you find this somewhat useful. 
Neither Russell Crowe nor Ryan Gosling appear in this essay
There is a popular saying that Nice Guys Finish Last, and they usually do. Gen X was taught that if nice guys persevere and are nice enough, we would win in the end. In the minds of the undersexed girl-crazed teenage boy, winning meant getting the girl and living happily ever after. Of all the problematic outcomes of this train wreck of thinking, one of the worst is the Nice Guy/Bad Boy Paradox. The Paradox is that in trying to be a Nice Guy, many men end up becoming a worse person than the Bad Boy. The Nice Guy Lie, that being a nice person will bring you sex, has negatively influenced male behavior for 30 years. It was a lie that I chafed against and caused me no end of cognitive dissonance. Changing yourself to fit what someone else’s idea of the perfect person is puts you on the fast track for emotional implosion, but many men don’t figure that out until it’s too late. If you were a guy for whom attracting women didn’t come easily or naturally (like me) you were always looking for some kind of an edge to make up for whatever your perceived shortcomings were. Over time as our desperation increased jealousy and anger at the more fortunate but seemingly less deserving men of the world increased in kind. We could not understand how seemingly intelligent women could choose unevolved pond scum over Nice Guys like us. Eventually we were filled with directionless rage magnified by society, men and women, telling us that we are single losers because we don’t want to change. Instead of help, society invalidates the negative feelings of men who by society’s standards don’t qualify as men. Guys like me thought that changing into something we weren’t was the only way to succeed, because being ourselves wasn’t getting us anywhere.
I didn’t choose the Nice Guy life, the Nice Guy life chose me, and it rubs me the wrong way to this day. I am not a nice guy. I’m an angry, self-centered, hedonistic, gluttonous, ball of negativity masquerading as a real live boy. I was slapped with the Nice Guy label mostly because I always try to do the right thing, whether I want to or not, and most of the time I don’t want to. I was often called a Nice Guy mostly because I wasn’t a dick to people, and I hated it. I can’t tell you how many times girls told me they weren’t romantically interested in me because I “was too nice.” Nothing is more confusing than telling a teenage boy that being a good person is stopping him from being able to touch a boob. Trust me; no teenage boy is choosing altruism and a life of servitude over touching a boob. It’s not outlandish to think that a Nice Guy shouldn’t have trouble dating but for guys like me that was often the case. I believed that if I became friends with a girl I liked and was the Nice Guy that people said I was eventually she would let me touch her boobs. Simple guy logic. If you glean nothing else from this exercise in apologist narcissism, remember that guy logic is simplistic, almost infantile. Lots of boys saw being a sensitive, caring, and sincere person as a means to an end, not a goal itself. It didn’t matter if you actually were all of those things or if you even believed in them; if you could become (or fake) those traits women had to want you. “I SHOULD be able to get a woman as a Nice Guy” is what we were told and told ourselves. The word “should” has caused more and bloodier violence than any other word in any human language.  If you wanted a girl you had to be the kind of guy you thought she wanted.
The problem every Nice Guy encounters is that at some point the Bad Boy comes along and easily scores the woman you’ve been plotting on for months, sometimes years. Inevitably the target of your affection will Uber over to your swanky apartment in the Friend Zone and tell you all about how Bad Boy screwed her over. After she has soaked your shirt with her tears, you’ll get a hug and stuck with the Uber bill as she goes straight back to Bad Boy. You discover that you overplayed the Nice Guy thing, and now that trait is seemingly all that’s holding you back from getting to second base. The frustrated energy this cycle generates could power Las Vegas for a month.  Being the simple creatures that we are we think “well if that’s what she likes, that’s what I’ll be.” The tragedy is that a lot of times it works! I speculate that there is some horrible lie that woman are told that attracts them to the Bad Boy, but whatever the cause it’s bad for society on general. The only thing worse than a fake bad guy is someone who overshoots Bad and hits  True Evil.
This guy never ended up in the friend zone. Be like this guy.
This is the Nice Guy Paradox; in trying to become a Nice Guy many men become actual bad people. The lying and pretending behavior becomes second nature, and gradually more and more shady behaviors become acceptable in the name of “love.” Guys at this level will see the Bad Boy with the girl they like, and think that they will do anything possible to separate those two because, after all, we know who is best for that girl right? Sometimes, like with me, this frustration and anger turned into depression and self loathing. In other cases men take that anger and frustration out on the target of their affection, with violent results.
The truth is that although the Bad Boy is 9/10 a genuine piece o shit, he is genuine. People like authenticity, even if it’s a negative sort of authentic. People know what they’re getting with a terrible person, and when things inevitably end in tears and lawsuits, no one is really surprised. When dealing with a guy who is an objective piece of shit a woman at least has the option of keeping her guard up, though whether she does or not is varies because human brains hate their human hosts. The guy who is secretly an awful person masquerading as a Nice Guy is seen as an affront, a violation, a fraud. A lot of times these Nice Guys have so lost track of who they really are they feel more and more victimized every time one of their manipulative efforts is ineffective. I know that cycle; the obsession with women and the compulsion to do anything to win her over creates a cycle of frustration, rejection and rage that often bubbles up into emotional or physical violence towards any women available.  Men really are toddlers with guns in many ways. I was out there trying to become the sensitive caring guy that got laid all the time which, shocker, may not even be a thing. Crazy thing is I do possess those traits naturally, but I still felt I had to manufacture a me that women wanted. We do this because we are never really told what women want. I was raised by all women and I still had (and possibly have) no clue how to be in a relationship with one. Men focus so much on how to get women and never talk about how to be with a woman. 
look at this sociopathic piece of shit
John Hughes lied to us. He lied to you, to me, to everyone.  If 80’s pop culture taught me anything, it’s that all women go for the rich/handsome/athletic guy, but what they really yearn for in their heart is the nerdy, awkward sensitive guy.  All we, the awkward, homely/unpopular nerds of the world had to do is try, try hard, and never give up. The Grand Gesture always seemed to work, and the girl-of-our-dreams would immediately leave the guy who by all traditional standards of success was the far superior choice, and fall in love with us forever. When you look back at 80’s pop culture, The Grand Gesture always worked. Think of the movie trope of a Person B leaving Person A’s life because he can’t commit. In the climactic scene, Person A confronts her at the gate to her flight wild eyed and short of breath. He proclaims his undying love for her, and the woman always says “I love you too” and purposely misses her very expensive flight out of town. It’s such a guy way of thinking; if she doesn’t like me the way I am I’LL ROMANCE BIGGER AND HARDER TIL SHE LOVES ME! In reality these actions often frighten women away, and the rejection intensifies. Now I am devaluing her and directing anger at her. Since my behavioral pattern is to take anger on women out on myself, I would get depressed and stress eat or do something else self-destructive.
when Nice Guys snap you get Michael Douglas
Nice guys don't finish last, or first. Like everyone else who has ever lived, all nice guys do is finish. If you finish alone and unloved or surrounded by family is up to you. And further also, when we come across guys who complain about not being able to meet women, the exact wrong answer is to call them losers for not fixing everything about themselves to make themselves more attractive to women. One of the reasons we are all crazy is that society sends us mixed signals. Being gay has always been used as a pejorative for men. Sharing your emotions with other men was “gay.” As such we are strongly encouraged to not share our feelings or ask for help. When men do complain about the difficulty they have with women, they are belittled, especially by those calling themselves feminists. Many times the insults are warranted because of the way men complain about things, but consider this;
I've only had one teacher who every got me, and his name was Nathaniel J. Pallone. He told us a story in class that was relevant here. People who try to eat lobster and crabs use tools to do so. You need tools to crack open the shells to get to the delicious meat inside. If you don't have tools you have to use your fingers and fists, smashing, breaking and tearing the meal apart until you and all your dinner companions are covered in crustacean goo. Lobsters are like emotions; if you have the proper tools., you can deal with them clearly and efficiently. If you don't you're just going to make a big mess. Many men do not have the social and interpersonal tools necessary to deal with the opposite sex and consequently make a big damn mess everywhere they go. And that's what we do. 
One of the most confusing aspects of reality to me is that no one ever believes me when I say that I have INCREDIBLE difficulty attracting and retaining women. It's one of the most traumatic areas of my life, but no one has ever been what I'd call sympathetic to my issues and with few exceptions I've always had to deal with them on my own. It's hard. I'm a pretty modern insightful dude though so therapy has helped in this area. At this point in life it's pretty hard to unlearn all of the mistakes and faulty cognitions, but progress has been made. For many men it's too late to see that the problem isn't everyone else, but sometimes honest listening can do a lot to humanize a Nice Guy. It's a start. This whole clusterfuck of good intentions and shitty strategy has to end somewhere. I think the only way to start is for men to be more transparent and for society in general to stop making us feel shitty for it. Trying to be a nice guy to get sex hurts everyone, and often leads to the unfortunate circumstance of being trapped in the friend zone. Speaking of...


Tuesday, January 24, 2017

My "Dear White People" Fanfic

Now I don’t want to get off on a rant here…
Actually yes I do. Shut up, It’s been a while.
     Some people have wondered about my notable silence since the election. Actually I've been relatively quiet since the Mike Brown murder (yes this has been me quiet.) When Trump won the election, I was angry and sad, but not surprised. My anger was directed at you who were surprised. I really don’t want to make this a race issue but of course I will. I like flinging around the Race Card like my name is Gambit. I’ve been angry, Black angry, which if you have been paying attention is really fucking angry. I’ve been angry, not at the Trump supporters but the White people who were in denial, who turned a blind eye to all the signs that trump was going to win. Over the last 4 years police have been murdering Black men and women in the streets and receiving cash compensation for it. There were hate crimes against Muslims just going about their days that were written off as lone nuts with a grudge instead of racially motivated slayings. There were blatant attempts at voter suppression in the South and blatant poisoning of PoC in Michigan. College kids in the Midwest wore racially offensive costumes every chance they got. Women couldn’t be on the internet without being threatened with rape and murder (Gimme Shelter) regularly.
     Speaking of internet threats, every Black person who dared have an opinion about the shitty way we have been, are, and will be treated in America woke up every morning to hundreds of tweets and posts from White people telling them that everything they think, know, and feel is wrong. Over Thanksgiving, Facebook was rife with posts about people being afraid to go home and deal with their families who were inevitably filled with Trump supporters. White “liberals” for lack of a better term were utterly convinced of their victory, and to an extent I understood. The idea of Trump winning, on the surface, was laughable at best, implausible at worst. But then, 4 years ago I would have thought it improbably that police would murder a 10 year old and refuse him medical treatment, or murder a Black man for wielding a toy gun in a store full of toy guns. But, here we are. And on November 9th, 2016 yea there was much gnashing of teeth and beating of breast. “How could this happen!” the people cried. And I looked at them and said “how could it not?”
     Who, exactly do you think those people voted for? The people who donated money to George Zimmerman and Darren Wilson? The Gamergate people. The Tea Party. “The 1%.” Those people from the suburbs who never met a Black person in their life who go to work in the worst parts of the city. The people who complain that “illegals” are abusing the Medicaid system. The White teachers who only deal with the most troubled and disadvantaged Black children. The people who blame the decline of their town/shit-kickerville state on Obama. Those people who blame every cramp and hangnail on Obama. The people worried about “the gays.” Those people who have more cops in their families than Black acquaintances. The people who think Facebook started racism. The dregs in middle management who are so miserable with their failed existences they they take out their impotent fury on their far more talented Brown coworkers and curse “affirmative action.” The conspiracy nuts, the anti-vaxxers, the doomsday preppers, all the heavily armed fringe-White psychos, who do you think they voted for? Who do you think they are?
     So yes, I’ve been angry. Then a weird thing happened; I started seeing people who had never expressed an opinion about any of the horrors of the world start opening their mouths, or at least, taking to their keyboards. Many of you got a real ice-bucket challenge, the cold reality that a lot of your so-called friends actually don’t give a fuck about your feelings or your welfare. It was funny for me to see people posting about having to unfriend “friends” who were all for taking rights away from everyone. I laughed. I didn’t unfriend anyone last year, because I unfriended every one of those assholes who posted anything about “All Lives Matter” or “Blue Lives Matter.” Turns out they seemed to have a high correlation with Trump voters. Shocking right? I had no sanitizing to do; it had been done, because I saw all of this coming. “But John” you say, “if you were so all-knowing and wise, why didn’t you do anything to stop this?” While it’s true that I am all-knowing and wise, I can’t do everything myself. In fact there is one thing I specifically can’t do; change white people’s minds. These Trump voters have no real understanding or emotional connection with anyone who doesn’t look or think like them, so it is the people who look like them who have to change the way the conservative Trump voter thinks.

     Hell I couldn’t get the people on my side to take the necessary action to head off this disaster, what can I do about the people who don’t? And here’s the kicker; the Trump voter is invisible. Yeah you can spot the fanatics from a mile away, because they want you to see them. But your boss at your publishing firm, your dry cleaner, your mailman, the people who you have a pleasant relationship, the people who send you Christmas cards, the people you think have Black friends, those are the Trump voters. They weren’t going to any inauguration. They weren’t proud. They’re happy enough knowing that their local, state, and federal government is busy taking civil rights away from minorities, women, and in many cases themselves. You know who voted for Trump? Women with BCBS, Aetna, Cigna, Humana, they don’t have to worry about Planned Parenthood, or abortions, because no one will fuck those unfuckable hags.
     Sorry. That was uncalled for.
     My point is that White women with financial privilege don’t give one spare fuck about White women who don’t have the same financial privilege. Lately I’ve been seeing White women go to war with each other over reproductive and civil rights, and it’s been lowering my blood pressure. These arguments are what will save America, because the last push the Sanity Party needs is for White women to, as a group, get on board with taking down conservative White male rule. The highbrow reason that I love these fights is that I feel like we as Black people are finally getting the help from so called allies that we have been asking for decades now. The lowbrow reason is I like seeing White people fight among themselves. But seriously, now is not the time for silences. A war can be won with words... mostly violence, but words too. Words change minds and most importantly, can change votes. Words can inspire empathy and compassion. Words can humble even the most ill-informed Trump supporter (redundant.) White women have to take a long hard look at themselves and really figure out if their priorities are to women or to preserving White supremacy, because those are not two great tastes that taste great together. Are your allegiances to your race, to the “patriarchal” institutions that oppress you or to other women? Are you vocal for PP but silent about Sandra Bland? You, you reading this, know a woman who is all for Trump and for stripping women of all civil liberties and access to healthcare, because those are things they never worry about. I don't know how to change that. Maybe before marching against men, some of you need to march against each other. I don't know, these aren't questions I have answers to. The rest of us PoC got our shit together to stop Trump, but y'all dropped the ball.

     In short, Dear White People; please unfuck yourselves before over half of you get the rest of us killed. BTW if you're reading this I am totally not talking about you. You're one of the good ones.