The nice guys of OK Cupid

One of the many 'nice guys' of the OkCupid dating website.

One of the many 'nice guys' of the OkCupid dating website.

It was with great sadness that I woke yesterday to the news that the internet’s latest enfant terrible had been shut down.

In its few short weeks, Nice Guys Of OkCupid had already garnered the attention of Gawker, Jezebel, the Huffington Post, and the New Statesman. As each successive commentary debated the merits (or lack thereof) of a site whose sole reason for existing was to lampoon the ironic sexism of self confessed ‘Nice Guys’, the site itself gained both enthusiastic endorsement and outraged anger. Many (myself included) wasted no time sharing the link with everyone we’d ever met, particularly other women who’d wandered the grammatical wastelands of internet dating and found them to be filled with more than one man who’d berate you viciously for daring to ignore his previous five (unreplied to) emails. For others, it was an exercise in brutal bullying, the mockery of a subset of pathetic men who hadn’t asked to be publically exposed and shouldn’t be punished for being Beta Males with a poor romantic history.

The premise was simple - its anonymous creator trawled dating site OkCupid to find the profiles of men who lamented their existence as a ‘Nice Guy’ and how this inevitably lands them in the dreaded ‘friend zone’ while less deserving men scoop up all the hot babes around them. A typical post featured a man’s profile photo, pasted over with choice quotes from the profile itself that ranged from benign sexism (girls are obliged to shave their legs, men should be the head of the household) to downright aggression (girls are sluts and bitches who perpetually friendzone me even though I am Really Nice).

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If there was a recurring theme, it was that despite their own declarations otherwise, the men featured weren’t particularly nice at all. And yet rather than look to their own behaviour to explain why they might be perpetually dateless (a propensity to wish harm on women, for example, or a penchant for fedoras), they chose instead to blame women for failing to reward them with the love they felt they’d earned.

To wit: Even though ‘Nice Guys’ will treat you like a princess, hold your hand when you’re sad and tell you every day how beautiful you are, they end up finishing last because girls only want to date jerky, insensitive assholes who treat them badly. Girls are therefore shallow bitches who can’t recognise a good thing even when it’s close enough to hide in her bushes late at night and stare through the window while crying. Or as one lad put it, he’s always in the ‘friend zone’ and never in the ‘bone zone’.

There’s been a great deal already written about the stroppy entitlement of the ‘friend zone’ concept (for a good primer, check out this post). Referring to a state of being almost universally inflicted by women, it hinges on the troubling idea that sex and companionship are rewards meted out to those men who follow the correct procedures of courtship. They give thoughtful presents and compliments. They’re good listeners. They always answer the phone, and call when they say they’re going to call. In short, they behave like a good friend would. So why aren’t they being recognised for that, and rewarded appropriately? After all, as the internet once had it, they put all the kindness coins in - so why didn’t sex come out?

Can such men be blamed for feeling this way? They receive just as many confusing messages about relationships and desire as women. The same system that seeks to reduce women to simpering Disney princess wannabes just waiting for Prince Charming to put a ring on it so they can start their life as a whole human being also instructs men to be the dominator - to make the first move, to do the proposing, to be someone she can rely on to protect her and worship her. Is it any wonder that so many of these men’s dating profiles include lines about ‘treating you like the princess that you are’ and ‘giving you the respect you deserve’ (as if the desire to give respect itself is something rare and worthy of positive acknowledgement)? They’re so focused on being the kinds of men they’re told women want to be with that they never stop to think about who women actually are - that in fact, rather than being merely the passive participants in an antiquated carnival of jousting where the victor receives all the giggling spoils, women are creatures like any other; their considerations when it comes to sex and relationships aren’t solely based on whether or not someone is nice, and they have no obligation to be any less superficial when it comes to their own physical attractions.

It’s this frustrating disconnect between how men and women are allowed to engage sexually that leads to an internet website lampooning such woe-is-me idiocy, and the subsequent outrage at the mockery foisted upon its targets. Because aren’t these men just trying? Aren’t they already sad and lonely? Isn’t it bad enough that they have to deal with the indignity of not being the kinds of men that can stroll out the door and land penis first in a compliant vagina? Must we inflict further torment on them?

It highlights the intense social fear of emasculation that lies at the heart of much antagonism towards women, particularly when it’s come as a result of sexual inadequacy. The difference in commentary regarding the treatment of NGOKC targets and, say, the women whose photos are published without their knowledge on Zoo’s Facebook page, or targeted by misogynist websites like Is Anyone Up? (a submissions based website which posted private photographs of women, often in states of undress, without their consent), or accused of being potential prostitutes because of how and whom they had sex with in their private lives is pretty clear. While the former have done nothing other than pursue their natural right to sex and companionship (rights that inform their identities as men), the latter are partially responsible for their vilification because they should have known better. Simply put: it’s punishment enough for men to have to pursue sex online, and to further mock them for it is cruel and dangerous. But women deserve to be shamed online for how they choose to have sex - particularly if it’s not with you.

If NGOKC is guilty of anything, it’s perhaps doing its job too well. By exposing the sense of entitlement experienced by men by virtue of their birthright, NGOKC also demonstrated the double standard exercised against men and women when it comes to sex and relationships, and their right to pursue - or deny - either. More importantly, it highlighted how sex is seen is something integral to men’s identities but peripheral to women’s - a gift she gives from compassion rather than one she seeks out through need and desire. For people who rail against the ‘friend zone’, the distinction is clear. Men who are nice deserve sex. And women who are nice give it.

It’s a shame it’s been taken down, but given the proliferation of ‘Nice Guys’ on the internet in general, I can’t imagine it will be too long before we see something else take its place.

In the meantime, there’s still Nice Guys of Westeros

75 comments

  • Great story Clem!

    Commenter
    Sheba
    Date and time
    January 08, 2013, 10:42AM
    • I agreed it is good, not great.

      It missed the point of the "friend zone". It is where a guy is treated like a boy friend, minus the sex. Being friends and being in the friend zone are very different things.

      My 2 cents on the topic is that women who "friend zone" guys are those who are in bad sexual relationships with other guys.

      Female friends who treat me as a friend and don't try and friend zone me are usually in happy healthy relationships.

      Oh, if I can spend a few more cents. Guys, get over it, it is up to you whether you want to participate in such relationships or not.

      Commenter
      Flingebunt
      Location
      Brisbane
      Date and time
      January 08, 2013, 2:55PM
    • Not sure I'd quite agree Flingebunt - treating "the friend zone" as a place that women actively and deliberately put men is probably why feminists treat the phrase with such hostility. It's more an unconscious aspect of human sexuality and attraction, or a miscommunication between the two parties. What I have a problem with is people who assume that even believing it exists makes you a misogynist.

      Commenter
      Stuart
      Date and time
      January 08, 2013, 3:55PM
  • How about we stop calling them 'Nice Guys', then, because they clearly aren't?

    It obscures things in at least two different ways: It ignores the question of whether actual 'nice guys' have the same 'problem' of being ignored by women as the ones who just falsely see themselves as nice, and it fails to address where this sense of entitlement comes from - who creates it, and why does it apparently continue to persist so strongly when it is clearly not something we as men are supposed to have?

    It's all well and good to point it out, but if that's where the analysis ends all it will do is create more resentment and never resolve the core issues that are causing the problem in the first place.

    Commenter
    DM
    Date and time
    January 08, 2013, 11:01AM
    • DM, that's why there's nice guys and 'Nice Guys', it is definitely a clear distinction.

      Commenter
      Sir Lolsworthy
      Date and time
      January 08, 2013, 11:45AM
    • @DM You ask 'where this sense of entitlement comes from'. It comes from the media. Every boy grows up with media telling him that he will win a girl at the end of his adventure! Movies, video games, books, TV shows all enforce this message. Girls in media are prizes or if the media happens to be directed at girls its all about pink and friends and how a boy will one day come a do something amazing to win our heart.
      You also say 'It's all well and good to point it out, but if that's where the analysis ends all it will do is create more resentment '. Yeah, whatever. It is not the job of the minority (although women are not a minority the media will have you think differently) to educate you. Google this stuff read about it and learn. NGOKC is not trying to educate you, it's having fun at the expenses of idiots and really I have no problem with that as mass media makes 'fun' at women and other minorities all the time.

      Commenter
      Ruby
      Date and time
      January 08, 2013, 12:12PM
    • They clearly aren't nice guys? Actually, it's not so clear. There isn't enough information to draw that conclusion. Sure the site outlines one or two comments they've made which may not be considered what a nice guy says. I'm sure you don't want to judge a breathing, thinking human being based on one or two comments without context.

      It may be that they aren't as nice as they say. Sure, that's always a possibility. I'm just saying that it isn't right to judge them so completely based on so little.

      Then again, ugh, posting a topless pic of you and your tattoo with a US flag in the background .... damn, that's tacky!

      Commenter
      DeeK
      Date and time
      January 08, 2013, 12:26PM
    • " It comes from the media. Every boy grows up with media telling him that he will win a girl at the end of his adventure! Movies, video games, books, TV shows all enforce this message. Girls in media are prizes or if the media happens to be directed at girls its all about pink and friends and how a boy will one day come a do something amazing to win our heart. "

      Actually, I already knew that (and I said as much in a reply post further down). I was just making the point that it was never mentioned in the article.

      " Yeah, whatever. It is not the job of the minority (although women are not a minority the media will have you think differently) to educate you. Google this stuff read about it and learn. NGOKC is not trying to educate you, it's having fun at the expenses of idiots and really I have no problem with that as mass media makes 'fun' at women and other minorities all the time."

      It's always the job of the people who understand to try and educate the people who don't. Otherwise what's the point? I don't really think mocking and humiliation of anybody is helpful. It might make the people doing the mocking or consuming it feel superior, but if that's all you want you might as well just throw rocks at them. It's the same end result.

      It's not going to teach anyone to be better, and a cursory understanding of psychology should be enough to indicate that an instinctive human reaction to shame and humiliation is to get angry and lash out in retaliation - which, in fact, if what the whole 'nice guy' discussion is about.

      Commenter
      DM
      Date and time
      January 08, 2013, 12:50PM
    • "It's always the job of the people who understand to try and educate the people who don't. Otherwise what's the point? I don't really think mocking and humiliation of anybody is helpful. It might make the people doing the mocking or consuming it feel superior, but if that's all you want you might as well just throw rocks at them. It's the same end result."

      We're not just talking about a bunch of innocent dopey blokes that are being mocked. These jerks are already ticked off because the women that they are attracted to and have deceptively feigned a friendship with won't open their legs. If you want to get in touch with these blokes and educate them, you go right ahead. Me, I'm tired of trying to educate idiots who can't see that life under patriarchy is not advantageous to woman, man or child. I'll enjoy the mockery.

      Commenter
      Sandra
      Date and time
      January 08, 2013, 4:02PM
    • DM, the article's scope covers the creation of and reaction to NGOKC and uses this to better elucidate the disparity of attitudes to male sexual behaviour and female sexual behaviour.

      The question of whether actual 'nice guys' have the same problem isn't covered because the question was never "Can nice guys get a date?" but "Why can't these guys get a date?". They only claim to be nice. If they wish to prove that "nice guys can't get a date" then that's their prerogative, but not the purpose of NGOKC or this article.

      That it doesn't fully answer or explore where this sense of entitlement comes from is indeed a 101 question. But again, not really the purpose of the article. You know the answer, but can you fault authors for not including stock paragraphs that explain more complicated concepts? It covers media influence and the concepts of princesses and dashing heroes, and how that can relate to perceptions of gender roles. I see it as similar to a science article explaining a spectroscope as "a sort of telescope that lets scientists see what elements other stars and planets are made of". It barely even scratches the surface, but it imparts enough information to get the general idea. An astronomer might get their hackles up at the description and a layman might be confused about how on earth that works or is useful at all, but explaining it in further detail won't really help the purpose of the article.

      Commenter
      Lucid Fugue
      Location
      Melbourne
      Date and time
      January 08, 2013, 5:40PM

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