Open Letter to Nice Guys (real and perceived)
Tony Abbott is the Minister for Women in Australia, Prime Minister elect after the world stood behind Gillard when she called him a misogynist. He paraded his daughters and wife like trophies rather ironically with the intent to prove he is “a good guy”. His cabinet is less gender equal than Afghanistan. This man will attempt to strip me of every right I have, and he is not the only one.
For years I’ve been told that I should take thanks for a sexual based compliment – whether they be from a boss or hurled from a car in the street. I’ve been told that I’m both too sexually promiscuous and not to be too chaste. I’ve even been told that I’m responsible for maintaining, controlling and also tending to the sex drive of a sex I’m now not particularly attracted to.
Nice Guys, this is a letter to explain to you why you’re so baffled by the people you like and why they seem to go for people ‘who treat them like shit’.
You see, I, like so many of my fellow female peoples, have very little agency in this world. What agency I have, I have clawed for. I have sacrificed years of ebbing hurt and energy into a relationship with a mother who still doesn’t fully understand why and how she hurts me. I’ve crammed myself into moulds to try and be the thing that people expected of me, only to give it up and suffer aggression from strangers when starting to come to terms with who I am now.
I have pretty privilege, I have thin privilege – I’ve been told my entire life that I am beautiful, smart, clever, intelligent, successful (in that order). I am in the best position for a female to feel good about themselves.
Please keep this it in mind when considering how other females might feel about their bodies, rights and autonomy. There will be many with less self worth than I have.
Nice Guys, when I encounter a cis male, I always run into several problems that I think have never been addressed, certainly never en masse.
With a lack of agency, comes a lack of power. For years I carved power from manipulation, getting very drunk off it for quite a long time. I take responsibility for my actions but I do not blame my former self. After all, I was fulfilling a cultural niche* that instructed me that this was the one arena of power that was not only socially acceptable, but also expected of me.
What these purported people who ‘treat them like shit’ do is, in essence, afford someone who feels powerless a safe venue in which to engage with their own agency. In my experience, the most comfortable situations with people like this has been less to do with a lack of caring about me and more to do with a lack of expectation from me.
Expectation is perhaps a too tough word, though the word ‘hope’ is fairly apt.
You see, assholes expect, nice guys hope.
I don’t want someone who does either of those things.
When I encounter an asshole, I will tell them and their expectations to get fucked (you know, because I’m not going to do it).
When I encounter a nice guy, the stakes are different and fraught. I know he’s a nice guy, that’s why I’m there, expressing that I like him. Maybe I’ve slept with him before. Maybe it’s been something as simple as kissing him.
Creating a sexual premise with a nice guy is a really big step because once you initiate the undercurrent, it will taint everything. Nothing will be innocent anymore, everything will have this subtext. You cannot invite him over to watch a movie. You cannot go out for a bite to eat. There are no take-backs, because take-backs hurt.
What nice guys and assholes have in common is a reduction of agency on the part of the person encountering them. Hope and expectation come with different forms of pressure. As a person who experiences a lack of agency in constant day to day life, this is so far removed from what I want in a sexual sphere it becomes a massive turn off.
I want to like you, but the things you are doing are making me feel powerless.
For instance, I fooled around with someone recently and made a note to tell him that it’s safe to assume – at least for the initial contacts – to only ever remove your own clothing.
By removing an item of my clothing, he was enacting a facet of power over me that he probably wouldn’t have realised he was doing. The difficulty in these situations is that I’m loathe to stop him, for fear of making him feel bad (I like the guy). However, it also functions as a turn off that I now have to battle internally to try and be sexually ok again in the dynamic.
It doesn’t matter how far along you are in undressing, you could be buck naked and them fully clothed, it’s their choice to remove clothing. If they haven’t removed clothing, it’s because they don’t want to – not because they missed the fact that you were stripping.
For initial encounters, I say, this is a safe route – and I fully acknowledge a personal one.
Another matter would be the dispersion of attention.
Introduce me to a man (person, even) who has never watched porn and I will wash his feet with my hair. You may have noticed, but female pleasure is not super high on the importance list of those making porn. This means a lot of cis men believe on some level that sex is centred around their pleasure.
Things I have found with cis men
1) It is not uncommon for a cis man to give head to me as foreplay. It has been unheard of for a cis man to give head to me (to completion and otherwise) and not expect sex after it.
Yes, the data set is large and varied.
2) It is not uncommon for me to give head to completion and not receive sex or pleasuring afterwards.
3) When requesting to be pleasured, several partners have made the argument that if we have sex then both of us will get off simultaneously – therefore it is the superior choice.
These are just some of the outcomes of male-centred views on sex.
Cis men, if you wish to be desirable, it is suggested you learn how to take enjoyment from giving.
Linking back to the previous point, however, taking enjoyment from giving means not only putting aside your sex drive, but also the expectation or hope that your sex drive will be satiated in return.
I know, I know. That feels insurmountable, right?
Women have been taught this for decades. It is expected of them.
The reason behind a person ‘treating them badly’ is, in my experience, a complex weave of things. Firstly, the initiation is one of open space for action but not a pressure.
For instance, the person has said “I really like you, but if you don’t feel that way, then all good.” This, in essence, presents an open space but relieves a lot of pressure to react or make decisions around how the other person feels.
Basically, it puts the ball in their court.
Once the ball is in my court, engagement is quite tempting. Even if I’ve not been overmuch attracted to them, curiosity and comfort through this sort of agency means that I feel comfortable to explore possibilities of something else.
Things go sour when the person starts to pull back. Again, it’s a power thing. It is so rare to find a dynamic in which I feel like I am on even footing that I will sacrifice a lot to keep it.
This is in no way me attempting to set up ways in which to manipulate people a la The Game and all it’s sociopathic spin offs. As a confessed ex-manipulator, I can assure you that those things will not help you in the long run.
What I’m trying to do is express why I feel so many cis men “nice guys” remain so baffled.
If you wish more success, quit expecting, quit hoping, focus solely on giving. The irony of this being, I suppose, once you give up wanting something, you’ll likely receive better results & connections.
*look up “Femme Fatale”