July 27th, 2005


Not so nice

I've been thinking about Bitch, PhD's notes on Nice Guys and Bitchy Women since I read it last week. There was somthing about it that struck me as wrong, even as I categorized the people I know. I'm a Bitch #4 (and no, I'm not particularly happy about it):
Women who are bitchy in private relationships... we have a clear sense of boundaries, we're direct; we're not conflict-averse; we don't mess about on the borders of hinting that something's wrong--we'll come pretty straight out and let you know. But I'll admit that sometimes those skills get misapplied, and I'll end up being incredibly rigid over something that really isn't at all worth the trouble, something that's usually simply an easier-to-deal-with version of something bigger that I'm worried about.

Anyway, this morning it finally occurred to me that what was bugging me about this analysis was that it's too objective. There are some fairly specific instances where the phrases "where have all the nice guys gone", "I can't get a date because I'm too nice" and "she was such a bitch" are used. And for those phrases, context is everything.

Nice guys, well, there are a million nice guys out there, but complaints about being too nice or lamentations about not finding them are used in the context of an excuse. From the female perspective, nice used in this way is generally a euphemism for maleable. It's never used in the context of an actual human being, it only represents the phantom ideal that she would probably be repulsed by if he were to actually show up in the flesh. And any man who claims that he's "too nice" is either an actual doormat thatnever learned to say no or a self-serving prick paying lip-service to the virtue to score points.

Bitchy women*, on the other hand, tend to be the product of a power struggle. Calling a woman a bitch is a way of establishing dominance, especially when used as an adjective while recounting the situation to friends. The confidence seems to be alluring but there's still too much to work out between men and women, finding the balance between strength and domineering, for equality to extend to the emotional aftermath of a relationship.

Basically, these boil down to excuses and denigrations aimed at making those using them feel better about their own failings. It's sad really.

*This is not including the mean spirited or sanity-challenged.