DISCLAIMER: The following text i.e The Nice Guy Phenomenon ncludes strong language and can also be triggering for many. Cautious reading is recommended.

Who Are These ‘Nice Guys’?

Women all around the world have faced harassment in many different forms by many different kinds of people. One of these types is the ‘nice guy’ type. For those who are not familiar with the painfully funny r/niceguys tag on Reddit, it is a relatively new term that is not quite what it sounds like. It refers to those men who make an active effort to come off as approachable and for the lack of a better word, nice.

They also make an active effort to set themselves apart from ‘other guys’. All of this is done to appear more approachable or to establish trust. This established trust is later used to approach women in ways that are usually inappropriate.

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‘Nice guys’ are typically defined by a strong sense of entitlement. Whereby they feel that because they are not like ‘other men’ they deserve whatever they ask for. Not getting what they asked for usually results in some ugly responses including but not limited to violent threats and slut-shaming. The behavior also includes treating basic human kindness and manners as unique attributes.

A Glimpse Into The Phenomenon

While the term itself is relatively new and even unheard of, ‘nice guys’ have existed for quite a while. Men who classify themselves as ‘nice guys’ tend to believe firmly in chivalry and in being ‘gentlemen’. Where they go out of their way to be nice to women.

This ‘respect’ is based on the belief that if they are nice enough all romantic and sexual advances will be accepted with open arms. However, when these advances are not accepted, they tend to act out. This could include cursing, name-calling, slut-shaming, and sometimes even racial slurs.

Exhibit A
The 'Nice Guys' Phenomenon
Exhibit B

Nice Guys Finish Last

The entire premise of the ‘nice guy ‘ thinking is based off the weariness women feel towards abusive men. The assumed logic is that if the same misogyny and objectification are masked by niceness then women owe themselves to such men. And in the case of rejection, the ”asshole phenomenon” is usually put forward to protect the mindset. This revolves around adamant protection of their own behaviour and hinting that women actually prefer the ”assholes” rather than the actual ‘nice guys’.

The 'Nice Guys' Phenomenon
Exhibit C

Despite their title, these ‘nice guys’ tend to share a very typical misogynistic mindset, revolving around a very strong victim mindset. They believe that they ‘finish last’ or get rejected because women are superficial. The whole idea is that women value physical attributes and features over personalities.

The whole premise is inherently misogynistic in nature since it generalizes women as not only shallow but also as too naive to value anything beyond face value. The ideology further evolves to include that since women only value physical attributes and ‘don’t give a chance’ to ‘nice guys’ they desire and deserve mistreatment and abuse.

How Toxic Masculinity Gave Birth to ‘Nice Guys’?

Toxic Masculinity is perhaps one of the worst after-effects of the patriarchy. The term refers to whole ”boys will be boys” whereby sexist, violent and dominating behavior is excused in men. it is also linked to a strong sense of entitlement and egotistic behavior. The patriarchy also labels the suppression of emotions as ‘strength’ and encourages a false pretense of ‘toughness’ in men. Nearly all of these attributes are displayed by these so-called nice guys.

Since the patriarchy has normalized toxic masculinity to the extent that openly violent behavior is considered the norm among men. Any man who doesn’t (openly) display such qualities wishes to be held on a pedestal and be treated differently.

The 'Nice Guys' Phenomenon

Almost as if not being violent and abusive is a favor rather than normal behavior. Such is the mentality of these ‘ nice guys’ who believe that since they approach women nicely they automatically deserve romantic attention.

Not taking rejection lightly is a very egotistic move and despite claiming to not be ‘like other guys’, this is a common trait among ‘nice guys’. Lashing out at someone just because they do not appreciate your advances is not only unethical but also a sign of a huge ego and a strong sense of entitlement.

Women do not owe any man, no matter how ‘nice’ any sort of attention.

The Evolution of ‘Nice Guys’

The examples provided above are the most extreme versions of ‘nice guys’. The beginning wave, if you may. Public shaming and humiliation has caused evolution within them. The phenomenon appears in much more subtle ways now. One of these ways is your local nice guy standing up for women’s rights.

And while there is nothing wrong in being an ally, if you’re doing something, do it with sincerity. These are the people who will upload posts and stories for women’s rights and take a very pro feminist stance. However, more often than not, this usually just a public stance.

These will be the very people who will n take a step back when someone they know are called out for harassment and such. They will also go out of their way to discredit women who speak out against harassment, abuse and ask for the ”other side” or recommend legal action.

photography of couple holding hands
Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com

These are also the same people who speak out against gender inequality in education but will continue to make sexist and objectifying jokes about their own classmates/coworkers. These are the same people who speak against gender stereotypes and yet engage in the same discourse. They speak against violence and rape and yet they consider the best way to insult someone is to talk ill of their mothers and sisters.

So, Is Being Nice Bad?

After drawing attention to a whole new type of toxic behaviour, I’d like to draw a line. Just because ‘nice guys’ exist doesn’t mean making an effort to be nice is a bad thing. Kindness is a human attribute that is generally greatly appreciated, and rightly so.

The whole point is being nice with an ulterior motive is wrong. To expect immediate gratification for showing kindness is wrong. To display a false image just to get what you want is wrong. A problem arises when anger and violence are displayed when you don’t get what you want. Advocating something and then not acting out on it is where the line is drawn. In general and in conclusion, everyone loves nice people but only if they’re actually nice!

The 'Nice Guys' Phenomenon
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[…] It is often linked to and justified by the ‘boys will be boys’ mentality and a strong sense of entitlement. Whistling and catcalling is a classic example of the objectification of women. The fact that men […]