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Nice Guys® still not vindicated

By Amanda Marcotte
Tuesday, June 24, 2008 22:32 EDT

As you read this, I’m in transit to Hollywood to film an interview for a documentary about the chastity movement. To no one’s big surprise, I’m against it, but that’s neither here nor there. The point is blogging may be spotty until Thursday morning, when I’ve safely returned from Gomorrah-on-the-Pacific. (Sodom is San Francisco.) In the meantime, I figured you all would be as disappointed as I am to see more choad-based “science” with this research that seems geared towards proving every Nice Guy® who claimed that women really like jerks, not realizing that if that was really so, he’d be rolling in the pussy just for saying that. Jill’s take is well worth reading, but I have more to add, naturally.

The article is a stellar example of choad-based science. First, there’s the weird implication that having more sexual partners=having more offspring, which is actually anti-true nowadays (it’s easier to talk someone into having kids if you stick around), and I’m skeptical if it ever was a better strategy than actually cultivating relationships. Second of all, they use movie characters as “evidence” for the theory, as if stories about James Bond are some great insight into human nature instead of a male fantasy that’s a fantasy precisely because of how unlikely it is.

The theory is that jerks have more sex than nice guys. Well, er, not more sex actually, though we can assume that’s going to be the erroneous assumption drawn by Nice Guys® around the world who use this research to justify their belief that women are too stupid to breathe, much less be trusted to select our own sexual partners. But actually, the research shows that college-aged men that have a triad of ugly personality traits—narcissism, callousness, and dishonesty, basically—are more likely to claim a higher number of sexual partners on a survey. As anyone who has both done the slutty single thing and the monogamous thing would tell you, slutty singles actually get laid less. You know, because it’s so much more work. But yes, you get more notches on the bedpost. One of the allures of monogamy is the appeal of getting laid all the time, after all. Of course, as commenters at Feministe noted, the immediate conclusion is that men who lie frequently outside of surveys are probably more likely to lie on a survey, which might be enough to explain this situation.

But even assuming that the jerks were remarkably honest on this survey, it’s hardly evidence that women like jerks more. In fact, my initial sense was that they discovered that women like jerks less, and also that good men have an easier time forming relationships with women they prefer to keep around. Instead of showing that jerks get laid more, I think the researchers might have shown the jerks get dumped more. Or they have problems attracting decent women that they don’t want to dump. Good, honest people find each other and slip into monogamy all the time, which means that they a) get more sex but b) with fewer partners. And many of them would tell you that they prefer it that way, because you know, more sex.

As much as the researchers interviewed in this piece strained to interpret the results in a way that insulted women and made it seem like we’re fools for men who mistreat us, I’m not seeing anything but evidence that people with low morals have problems forming long term relationships. Like this:

“It is universal across cultures for high dark triad scorers to be more active in short-term mating,” Schmitt says. “They are more likely to try and poach other people’s partners for a brief affair.”

Do we really need half-assed evolutionary psychology to show us why relationships that start with an incident of infidelity tend not to last long? Even if you poach with the full intentions of keeping the poached partner—which many poachers do—odds are that the ugliness and distrust your relationship started with will disintegrate it, especially after the poaching is successful and all the excitement of sneaking around is over.

I josh, but there’s a serious side to this that I think people should really consider before they bandy around these misogynist, half-baked theories. The Nice Guy® legend that women “really” want jerks is a way of saying that women are born masochists, and that we not only deserve but thrive on being abused. It’s a short jump from there to justifying rape and domestic violence as the natural order between men who are dominant and women who just love jerks. The intellectual fudging used to create these articles is funny, but the net effect isn’t. When you live in a society that believes that being hurt and misused by men is your natural role and your fulfillment as a woman, you’re not going to get much sympathy after you discover that your boyfriend or husband is the kind of woman-attracting jerk who beats women.

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