|Image courtesy of xkcd|
This post is our first installment in a new column, "Ask a Feminist," which will be published every 1st and 3rd Tuesday.
I read a bit of your feminism blog, and now I am intensely interested in what you think of this comic. I'm curious what you think the message is that this artist is trying to portray, whether you agree with it, and what you would say instead (if anything.) It might also give you fodder for another blog post.
I'm pretty sure I disagree with the message of this comic, but I'm not sure if I'm interpreting it correctly, or if there even is a single interpretation. If you'd like, I'd be happy to explain what I think it's trying to say and what I believe instead, but I'd rather you have a fresh view of it first.
I've seen this comic before (I love xkcd), so I might not have the freshest perspective. But I think there are a couple jokes at play here - there's obviously the stereotype of women going for jerks instead of the nice guy best friend who's always there to support them, but the joke in the end is that the "nice guy" doesn't respect her either, because rather than risk rejection he's hoping to catch her in a moment of weakness and be with someone who's unhappy to be with him. The other joke, of course, is that she openly decides to date a jerk at the end, which suggests women really do prefer jerks. I can't say I agree with that message, but I would agree with the message that it's equally disrespectful to try to manipulate a person rather than risk rejection.
How are you reading it?
Well, I read on a (Non-LDS) feminism site about two years ago the rant of a woman who insisted that she hated the "nice guys." She said that in her opinion, any male who was obviously interested in her and refused to admit it was guilty of playing the "Nice Guy" con, and linked to this comic to explain what exactly that con consisted of. She insisted that being friends with a girl when you were actually interested in her was inherently dishonest.
I'm especially interested in the second and third to last panels, where he hints that the marriage of two friends would be sub-optimal, and implies that something would be missing from the relationship that would have been there if he'd have been a "jerk" instead. However, this "missing something" is never fully explained. It's almost as though it is just assumed the reader knows what it is and agrees.
I personally think that a truly valuable relationship comes as a result of two best friends deciding to be something more. I have never understood why people go from hardly knowing each other to being in a relationship. In my mind, the progression has always been pretty straightforward: You become interested in a girl, you befriend that girl so you get to know her in a variety of situations, and if, after getting to know her, you're still interested in her, you broach the subject of a relationship and see where it goes. To imply that a previous friendship is a detriment to "real relationships" confuses and disturbs me.
In a way, it's an extension of the "nice guys finish last" aphorism, which I've read many times as I've done research on how the world at large views relationships, which I still have a hard time swallowing, and which I think might say more about the "average, worldly woman" than it does about the kind of relationship God would want between two of his children. I figured any girl who didn't want a nice guy was just disqualifying herself as being "not my type." The added complication of nice guys being viewed by this author as inherently untrustworthy is somewhat alarming, and I hope this isn't the view of the world at large.
I'd be cautious to assume the author of xkcd views nice guys this way, but I can understand your concern, since movies, books, and television are so quick to portray "nice guys" as boring. But this problem isn't as one-sided as popular American culture would have us believe. Along with the woman who ignores the kind boy next door and instead goes for some jerk who uses her, there are plenty of men who do the same thing. I had a female friend who took great pride in her ability to control men. How did she do it? She treated them like dirt, and they'd usually come crawling to her.
Another misconception about the Bad Boy Mystique (if that term isn't already out there, I'm copyrighting it here and now!) is that women want men who openly treat them like dirt. However, having dated a
So, while I can't comment on what this feminist blogger said, I can see why she might see any form of deception as a sign of trouble. If a man is only friends with a woman because he has an ulterior motive, that's hardly the foundation of a solid relationship. Also, I've witnessed friends crumble after a man who spent tons of time with them and acted like a boyfriend, for an extended period of time but without committing, eventually decided to date someone else. Perhaps that's part of what that blogger was concerned about? Still, I don't think we should preclude the possibility that a man wants to develop a friendship with a woman and also get to know her better, with the potential for romance in the back of his mind.