Thursday, June 30, 2016

The Problem With "Nice Guys™"

The Problem With Nice Guys™
 For years, we have been told as women that we should find ourselves a nice guy. What's wrong with that, you might ask. After all, niceness is a virtue. I agree of course. Genuine niceness is a virtue. Having nice people in your life can be a great blessing, but niceness is not the only quality one should seek out in a friend and it's certainly not the only quality one should look for in a potential dating partner and there is an astoundingly stark difference between real niceness and niceness which is put on in order to affect a certain outcome. It has been drummed into us as women via problematic tv and movie tropes, but it doesn't stop there. I would argue that its been present since the invention of the play. The idea of settling for the nice guy regardless of our level of interest has been drummed into women since the beginning of patriarchal society itself. Of course no one is attracted to someone else based solely on their level of niceness. That being said, actual niceness isn't what we're talking about here. The NiceGuy™ isn't actually nice (or if he is, his affectations are not particularly genuine when it comes to women). So without further ado, let's get into the meat and potatoes of the dreaded "NiceGuy™" syndrome.

The Nice Guy ™ 
  This guy has a heart of gold (in their own estimation) and they'll kill every last person on this earth prove it to you, because they're fucking nice, goddamnit and fuck you and your little dog if you don't think so! The poor, plucky, overlooked NiceGuy™ just keeps putting himself out there only to be crushed by all of those evil, evil women (or men) that they date. This dater has no concern for your likes, dislikes, wants, needs, emotions or life situation. To them, dating is about one thing and one thing only: being acknowledged/not being alone while simultaneously benefitting from a transactional process wherein they receive admiration, validation and of course "the sex."

•To this dater, you are simply a warm body for them to use as needed when having someone good looking, kind or in a pinch, having someone with a pulse who breathes suits their needs.
•The Nice Guy™ feels he should be rewarded for not being a jerk and for acting with a modicum of respect and decency (even false respect and decency). The Nice Guy™ wants a great big feminist cookie for not raping, beating, mistreating or otherwise taking advantage of the current woman of the moment, and why not, when deep down, the Nice Guy™ harbors a deeply flawed and an inherently misogynistic worldview.
•The Nice Guy™ rarely acts with dignity and self respect around the woman or women he's interested in at any given time. Rather than letting the wo/man he's interested in know that he's interested and know exactly what he's interested in and why and allowing the wo/man the agency and ability to make that decision, he follows his target around like a puppy dog, wheedling and worming his way into her life any way he can, but not genuinely caring about anything his target thinks, says or does because all the Nice Guy™ is interested in is filling his own shallow, selfish needs. 
•Nice Guys™ live lives within a constant cycle of ups and downs based on who is giving them attention at the moment. They move from one crush to the next to the next and if the woman (or man) in question dares not to be interested in them, they're evil, horrible and awful and the Nice Guy™ no longer wants to go through the hassle of playing nice and, ugh, listening to her problems and, blech, being kind and caring if he knows he's not going to get anything out of it. The Nice Guy™ will promptly decide at this point that it's you who are at fault, even if you've simply let him know that you're not available at this time or that you just don't think you'd be a good fit. The Nice Guy™ actually feels on some level that it is your honor bound duty to give him something in exchange for the gigantic favor he's done you by being "nice." After all, how likely is it in a world of jerks and players that you're going to find another guy as "nice" as him? If you're interested in someone else other than the Nice Guy™, regardless of how nice the guy you're interested in is, the Nice Guy™ will blame you for falling for some jerk rather than allowing the Nice Guy™ to woo you with his sweet, soft, gooey center of "niceness."
•If the Nice Guy™ finds someone more willing than you, you will of course be set on the back burner and you shouldn't complain. After all, his niceness is only genuine when it's convenient for him or when he's dealing with the hot woman of the moment that his wandering eye is on. 
  •In their own mind, the nice guy/gal ™ is a regular Cyrano DeBergerac. They are poetic, romantic, lovely and engaging, yet shy, deep and, lest we forget--nice. If only this dater were to find that perfect someone who doesn't complain, never tells them they're wrong and who gives them a chance even when the nice guy/gal ™ is clearly not the person they're interested in's cup of tea. 
  •It follows that this dater is selfish, ignorant and self-obsessed in rather an ugly, shadow aspect way.

•When a woman tells the NiceGuy™ no thanks or appears otherwise disinterested in him, the NiceGuy™ is thankfully able to trot out the convenient excuse that "all women (this excuse really is specific just to women) prefer jerks/bad boys" in order to avoid any introspection or the potential that they might have to take actual responsibility for their part in the interaction or worse yet, that they might have to acknowledge that said woman actually isn't interested in them all on the NiceGuy™'s own merit when it has absolutely nothing to do with that woman wanting a bad boy. This sort of lazy excuse making and avoidance is stubborn, immature and short sighted and sadly it's used by men who may actually have some degree of niceness tucked away somewhere. This line of thinking is also extremely misogynistic as it immediately discards the notion that the woman, of her own free will and barring any outside influences has actually decided that she simply isn't interested in the NiceGuy™ and happens to have the wherewithal and confidence to know that she has every right to choose who she does and doesn't talk to, date, have sex with, open up to or spend time with. 
  •Since everything is always about the NiceGuy™, any rejection, either real or perceived will be forever written into Mr. Nice Guy™'s personal narrative as well as their narrative about you and about the female sex at large. 
  •It is important to note that the selfishness of this dater is usually unintentional, but stems from a lack of emotional maturity and an appropriate locus of control in addition to the obvious factor here, which is misogyny and a patriarchal worldview. This doesn't mean that you can or should attempt to fix them, as that in and of itself is an inherently disrespectful and useless way to view and to deal with people. What you should do is make note of this and feel sorry for them if you're able. This type of dater (the NiceGuy™) will never find true happiness until they grow up and learn to take real responsibility for their actions and start working on genuine self-improvement instead of blaming others for their problems. It is important to remember that being genuinely nice and being nice simply because you expect a reward are NOT the same thing.

*The good news is that those who are suffering from Nice Guy™ syndrome are completely able to change that state of affairs. Some simple ways to do this are to:

•Check your unhealthy thoughts. When you start thinking about women as objects or attributing characteristics to women at large (i.e. bitches be crazy), you need to remind yourself or have someone you trust remind you that this is an unhealthy and untrue way of thinking. Instead of blaming a diverse and vibrant cross section of people for something unpleasant you feel you've experienced with one person, you can give yourself an internal reality check. Some good questions to ask during this reality check are:

  •What could I have done differently during this interaction?

  •Was the person in question being honest upfront and genuine with me? If so, why does that make me angry/upset?

  •Did I actively listen to what the wo/man in question had to say? Did I otherwise allow this person's actions to tell me something valuable rather than simply being angry and not giving them any consideration?

 •Am I ignoring signals that have been sent my way?

 • Do I care about this person in a genuine and deep manner?

•What draws me to this person?

•Do I have anything in common with this person?

•Is there any reason this person should be interested in me barring my "niceness?"

•Why am I interested in the person? If lots of women were falling all over me right now, what would set this particular person apart for me?
•Many people may be interested in this person. Why should they pick me?
•Am I looking for someone to be on my arm and fill my needs, or am I looking for another fully developed individual to get to know, be there for and allow to be there for me?

•Have I been fully present during any and all interactions with this person? If so, what is their body language telling me about their level of potential interest?
•Am I able to distinguish signs of being uncomfortable from signs of genuine interest? Women are often taught to act demurely and nicely and to let men down easily. It can be a very uncomfortable situation indeed for a woman to have to field interest from someone who is being too familiar with her or isn't getting the picture that she's not interested.

•Does the person in question seek out interactions with me (a work associate, client or customer might HAVE to seek out interactions with you and the things you're interpreting as signs of interest could actually be signs of embarrassment and extreme  signs of being uncomfortable--blushing, looking away, angling their feet or body away from you, smiling and looking away, rubbing at their face, scratching something, a nervous smile or pursed lips, tucking the hair behind the ear, etc.)?

•Am I making this person uncomfortable?

•Have I been 100% straightforward, upfront and honest with this person about my intentions?

•Have I given this person the opportunity to say either "yes" or "no" to having me in their life without trying to influence the situation in a transactional manner (i.e. giving them things, doing things for them, complimenting them and otherwise trying to ingratiate myself to them)?

•Are the things I've said or done with this person two-sided (i.e. allowing this person to pick the subject of discussion once in awhile, allowing this person to reach out to me now and again, allowing this person to be there for me, hang out with me, etc.) or am I engaging in transactional, one-sides behaviors like gift giving, giving inappropriate or too personal compliments, making misogynistic observations (i.e. "smile," "a beautiful girl like you shouldn't cry," "[insert cheesy, impersonal pickup line here]"), jumping to do favors, take her/him out and "impress" them, "help" with things, etc.?

•If this wo/man rejects me, will I still think they're worthy of my friendship without thought of a future sex or dating relationship?

•If this person isn't interested in me, am I capable of moving on or will I start hounding them again at the first whiff of desperation and/or perceived "loneliness" on their part?

•Is acting in a way that gives away my power and dignity helping me in any way?

•Do wo/men enjoy being hounded, harassed, or bothered by someone who is pretending to be their friend in order to get something from them? Would I enjoy being treated that way by someone else?

•Am I really in search of friendship or am I looking for something else?

•What does real friendship mean to me? What might it mean to them?

•Am I acting like a true friend?

•Could my behavior be construed as irritating, annoying or harassing?

•Is it likely that this person knows I'm interested?

•Has this person said anything to me about loving me like a brother, only wanting to be friends, not being interested in a relationship at this time or not being sexually attracted to me? If so, am I respecting that, or am I waiting around for potential future opportunities and inherently not respecting their boundaries and being dishonest to them by doing so?

•What behaviors, limiting thoughts and actions can I change in order to be more genuine and true to my true self, my true wants, needs and desires? How can I reflect those things honestly and respectfully to those around me including the person I am interested in? What might be gained if I do? What might be lost if I don't? 

Thursday, June 9, 2016

"Maggie" Movie Review

"Maggie" Movie Review
                                                   (Credit: Credit)

Let me preface this review by saying that I have had my share of doubts over the years about Arnold Schwarzenegger's acting talent and style. Wait...did I just say "doubts"? Because let's be honest, I basically fucking knew-as did around 99.999% of the population that Mr. Schwarzenegger's success was at best a fluke and at worst a cruel, cruel joke being played over and over again upon an unsuspecting and sometimes undeserving public.
But...and here's where shit gets weird...since his return to the big screen after his stint as governator (can we all just please forget that in all of its sinister implications, icky revelations and lackluster "glory"?), I have glimpsed a side of Arnold Schwarzenegger that I was previously loathe to believe could've possibly existed. Apparently Arnold Schwarzenegger has been hiding this side of himself from public knowledge, and here I am today testifying in the court of public opinion to the fact that it does actually exist! Arnold Schwarzenegger is a terrific actor!
 Arnold Schwarzenegger has apparently been woefully underestimated and horribly miscast for the past forty odd years. He is indeed, actually, a very talented actor. I am in complete and total awe at Arnold Schwarzenegger's acting capabilities. My world has been torn asunder! Down is up and up is down. The wolf is lying with the proverbial lamb, the leopard with the goat and all that other happy biblical shit. I actually saw an award worthy performance from both Mr. Schwarzenegger and Abigail Breslin in a small film festival movie called "Maggie" and the feeling won't leave me alone. This movie touched my heart. Truly. Both Schwargzenegger and Breslin were terrific, their performances outstandingly nuanced and visually beautiful to boot. In fact, the whole movie was visually beautiful as well as emotionally touching.

 Several critics beat up on this particular movie a bit because it wasn't gory and violent enough for them to consider it a true zombie/post-apocalyptic thriller, but those people are probably the type that have only been reviewing Tarantino and Rodriguez films for the past two decades and have forgotten that although violence can be a useful tool, especially in genre and sub-genre films, there isn't often anything more to said movies. We have become lost in a world of cheap thrills, hypnotized by the possibility of being able to sit for two hours in a dark room and feel, but not think. A point can however be made in a movie without said moviemakers beating the audience over the head with constant and sustained literalism. A genre film/sub-genre film or action film doesn't have to be grandiose and super violent to get its point across. Maggie proves that such a film can actually be minimalist, artsy and beautiful, yet still manage to come across with the most desperate and inescapable sense of horror one can imagine.
 Maggie was a compelling film on so many levels and in so many ways. "Maggie" is a film that makes the viewer really consider what it's like to have to let someone go--to consider what a difference it makes when we let them go in the right way and at the right time. It perfectly conveys the sense of beauty, depth and tragedy inherent in such an act. It shows us every heart wrending side to the saddest of times. And reminds us that although life can be terrible, it can also be beautiful. It reminds us that some of the gravest and most meaningful beauty in life is that of autonomy, free will and strength and our ability to make our own choices in our own time and in our own ways. Maggie is understated, beautiful, deep, meaningful, thought provoking and compelling while remaining simple, straightforward and, well, horrible-in all the right ways. The point of this particular story is obvious, not because we are beat over the head with it, but because it is so achingly poignant and so unbelievably well acted and artfully shot that the themes and overarching lessons flow seamlessly from storyteller to audience at all times. Arnold Schwarzenegger gives a surprisingly beautiful, heartfelt performance in "Maggie." I've seen a couple of Arnold movies lately that make me question my assumptions about his talent. This is one of them. "Maggie" made me cry more than once. It was beautifully acted by both Arnold Schwarzenegger and Abigail Breslin. I'd love to see them together again in future. If you haven't checked this movie out, do yourself a favor and watch it,
but go in with no expectation but to be amazed. I told you shit would get weird...but somehow it did so in all the right ways. Kudos to Arnold Schwarzenegger. After years of duds, fun, campy action
films and cringeworthy dialogue, you have made a believer out of me. I'm genuinely looking forward
to seeing what your acting future holds.

First Question [podcast] Belle Gunness short show notes

​ Listen to THIS episode of First Question here! Born as Brynhild Paulsdatter Størseth Belle Gunness, nee Paulsen was born in Christiania, ...