Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Speaking of Guys That Don't Get It...

Fortune smiles upon me once again: The perfect illustration of a guy who doesn't quite get it.

Dustin Seibert- and his lovely little collumn here called "Game on the train? I'll take a pass"- is, I suspect, the sort of guy that many feminist blogs are talking about when they're call someone a Nice Guy™. He gives lip service to "getting it," but his attitude, and a lot of his comments, suggest to me that he doesn't really get it.

A casual glance might give you the impression that he's most of the way there. After all, he's writing about how he doesn't approach random women on the train. That's good, right? Of course. He also mentions that one of the reasons he doesn't approach random women on the train is "I know too many women who get freaked out by such advances." He's making progress, yeah? Well... maybe not so much.

See, while it's great that he's not bothering women on the train for their numbers, his attitude about the whole thing is depressingly angry and snide. Right after acknowleging that he knows too many women who are bothered by the unwelcome advances of strangers, he adds "The sneers that pop up on their faces a split-second before I even get a chance to smile say, 'I don't have a chance,' 'I'm not interested in what you're selling' or simply 'why the hell are you talking to me?!?'"

Ignoring for the moment that what he really means is "you don't stand a chance," think about that attitude for a second. His concern isn't about what the women are feeling about unwelcome advances- it's about how he feels about the rejection he gets from women who are bothered by unwelcome advances. He doesn't like feeling shut down, so he doesn't approach women.

On the one hand, the result is great- he's not bothering women and invading their personal space. On the other, the reason is a shitty one- he doesn't like feeling rejected, not because he respects their personal space. If there was any doubt about that, the stand-alone line "They're likely also thinking, 'Well, if he were really good-looking, then I might be more receptive." makes it quite clear. It's not that he thinks women don't like being bothered on the subway- it's that he thinks women want to be bothered by men more attractive than himself. He's taking a situation that ought to be about the woman's feelings and turning it back into something that's about his own.

In other words: Seibert? It's not about you. It's not about how attractive you are. It's not about how interesting or shallow you are. It's about respecting another person's right not to be pestered and hit on while they're taking the tram.

There are plenty of other cues about Seibert's mentality. He's unhappy that women might find him unattractive, but repeatedly discusses approaching attractive women: "that one very attractive women sitting by herself on your train", "Perhaps approaching a pretty young local in East Snackbite, Ill would be easier", "will the cutie standing on the corner..."

For an article talking about how Seibert doesn't hit on women on the train, he seems singularly invested in blaming women for his not hitting on them. He talks about the "inaccessibility" of women on the streets as though it's a bad thing that he can't hit on them. He refers to "lowe-culture" men who "ruin it for us good guys" as though, if only it weren't for all those classless losers, Seibert might have a chance to score some numbers on the street. After all, he's "no sketchy individual", and he's just trying to "offer substantive sonversations" that are "falling on deaf ears."

Shorter Seibert: "Poor Nice Guys! We have it so hard!"

The problem, of course, is that I think a lot of people probably read this kind of article and don't see a problem with it. They read it and they really do think "Wow, that sucks for him! Why are those women so mean to him! He's cute, and look at how nice he is!" Because he's paying lip-service to the desires of women, no matter how back-handedly, any criticism is likely to be met with resistence. After all, he respects women, so why are we so hard on him? That he spends the entire article blaming women for the situation and discussing how unfair and difficult it is that women are unreceptive to advances in public... well... never you mind that.

So, there you go, exactly the sort of subtle sexism that underlies a lot of what we've been talking about. I almost feel like I should send him a thank you note. But, somehow, "Thanks for being a sexist asshat who blames women for your problems" just doesn't seem like it'd go over well.


Scarred said...

Amen, amen. Well-written, Roy.

I wish just for once men like Dustin would try to put themselves in women's shoes.

**How would they like it** if they were hit all the time with advances while they were in public--tired, wiped out, rough day at work, strung out and worried--by unknown strangers who have the potential to do anything nasty such as romantic psychological warfare to serial killing?

The "bitch shield" exists FOR A REASON. How I wish more men understood!

And WHY should women be stuck all the time with the "duty" to be receptive? Why don't MORE MEN try to be receptive? There are times when I've tried to strike up conversations with men on the train, bus, etc....sometimes it goes well, but other times some men are about as receptive as a pike. That's just all there is to it. Men don't feel a *duty* to be receptive while out in public. AND THAT'S JUSTIFIED.

So Dustin, why push that out onto women?

Thank you, Roy, for your post.:)

Roy said...

**How would they like it** if they were hit all the time with advances while they were in public--tired, wiped out, rough day at work, strung out and worried--

Oh, but didn't you see? He thinks he knows how he'd feel. In fact, he's pretty damned sure he'd like it just fine, thank you very muchly: The irony is that most guys not stuck in the Victorian Era dig the idea of women approaching them on the street. We won't think you're loose if you approach us with even a modicum of intelligence. It demonstrates an assertiveness that we appreciate.

See? He won't think you're a dirty slut- as long as you're intelligent (otherwise? Probably loose, duh!). It'll just mean that you're assertive. Which he likes.

And, by implication, why are you women so upset when an intelligent man is assertive?


I can see Seibert's sense of entitlement from here.

Kristen said...

Another great post, Roy.

I read "Self-Made Man" a few months ago and found myself astonished that this intelligent woman was irritated that women ignored her in clubs when she approached them as a man. She made nearly the same argument that Dustin does! It was as if by putting on fake facial hair she had forgotten what it feels like to be approached by a stranger.

Just one more sign that patriarchy runs deeper than we think it does

Vervain said...

The irony is that most guys not stuck in the Victorian Era dig the idea of women approaching them on the street. We won't think you're loose if you approach us with even a modicum of intelligence. It demonstrates an assertiveness that we appreciate.

Unless she's a fatty. Or has really bad teeth and halitosis...or serious acne...or no boobs...or a lazy eye...or is over 80...

Wait, what am I saying? Of course any strange woman that approached him on the street would look like a porn star/supermodel.
Silly me!

Nique said...

Word. I hate the "nice guys finish last" mentality that many men (and boys) have. They think they are nice and hate women for not liking them, not realizing they were never nice to begin with. They're just assholes with an inflated sense of entitlement.

Jaclyn said...

Whoa. Holy clueless, Batman.

My favorite (by which I mean: least favorite) part is this:

"Perhaps approaching a pretty young local in East Snakebite, Ill., would be easier. But in the land of pepper spray and civilian defense techniques, you'd do good to walk away unharmed."

Ummm, ever consider why women have to be prepared to defend themselves physically from men practically all the time? And, for that matter, what it might feel like to have at least a low-level fear of attack humming in the back of your mind at any given moment?

Nope, of course not. Instead, it's Poor Mens, who have to fear women "overreacting" when they're just trying to be Niiiiiice. Sucks to be them. My heart is breaking.

assembling words to armory, she waits... said...

well, roy, didn't you know that these girls are "hot," so they should just "deal with it?" *smirk*