It’s no secret that I’m quite tickled by the Nice Guys of OKCupid tumblr that sprung up in recent weeks. I love the juxtaposition of these so-called “nice guys” and their terrible, terrible worldviews. Having tried out a few dating sites, I’ve come to learn quite a bit about these creatures. They’re convinced that they’re completely perfect, and it’s just the “bitches” who prefer “assholes” who are ruining their chances of getting fruitfully laid. They send creepy, overly personal messages, they don’t take “no” for an answer (no matter how politely it’s delivered) and they are quick to demonise women for the slightest perceived transgression (“2 hrs to reply to a txt? Guess ur not rly srs about me”).
So yeah, I think this kind of guy is a prime douchebag, and I’m happy to laugh at them as they lay upon my tumblr dashboard.
This morning, I found myself in a conversation about the “shaming” of these men. One person said to me, “They’re seeing themselves mocked, don’t understand why and getting even more angry at women.” Another pointed out that the guys’ unedited images are being broadcast, perhaps unfairly (although it’s worth remembering that, contrary to some people’s understanding, OKCupid profiles can be accessed by non-members in their default setting).
What I’ve realized is, I don’t have a particularly large amount of sympathy for these guys, because shaming and harassment is something that I’ve come to expect as a woman, just for the pleasure of stepping foot on the internet.
For years, we’ve watched as the worth of innocent (if naïve) women has been attacked by sites like the now-defunct Is Anyone Up? This site was arguably worse than the likes of Nice Guys of OKC – it broadcast nude images, mostly of women, often submitted without the consent of the person depicted in the picture. Closer to home, the Brocial Network Facebook group encouraged members to share photos of scantily-clad female friends, along with their names and contact details – making them targets for harassment. The #mencallmethings phenomenon made clear just how much abuse women can expect online simply for voicing an opinion.
And I’m supposed to feel sorry for a few idiots who have bad dating profiles?
Most women I know have become hyper-paranoid about what they’ll put online. Less-than-demure photos are out. Sending intimate pictures to a man is something fewer and fewer women are willing to do. The most innocuous tweet can invite a barrage of responses along the lines of “femenazi slut” that we just have to grin and bear. Putting a profile up on a dating site means girding our loins against in the vastly inappropriate messages that inevitably follow.
Of course, this doesn’t happen to the men so much. Men have rarely been surprised to find their naked image being circulated on the web (not least because most women won’t start that particular fire for fear of their own nude pictures being released). Their consequences for putting themselves out there on the internet haven’t been so severe.
After all, when the Is Anyone Up? controversy was being discussed, people were quick to blame the people in the pictures just as quickly as those who submitted them. Every discussion was tinged with, “Oh, how awful – but if those silly girls just didn’t take the pictures in the first place…”
Men being mocked for their self-pitying victim complexes and crappy beliefs are really more or less in the same boat, although they retain the advantage of not being naked. If you’re not prepared to have someone criticize what you think, say or look like – harshly – don’t put that stuff on the web.
And while we should all be rising above it, and not being mean to anyone else ever, years of being slut-shamed, called a “bitch” for refusing to sleep with a guy and made to feel that being undesirable is the greatest of sins can’t help but take their toll. Nice Guys of OKCupid gives women what they sorely need after years of walking a fine line online: a good laugh.
To the men who have appeared on Nice Guys of OKC, and their sympathisers, I know it’s not nice to be laughed at, mocked or harassed. (Boy, do I know.) But them’s the breaks with the internet. Women have been learning this the hard way for yonks, and now a few guys are getting a tiny, tiny taste. Look on the bright side, Nice Guys – at least your ex didn’t submit your nude pictures without telling you. Or threaten you with rape just for writing an op-ed. Ditch the fedora, rethink your bigotry and stop using the term “friendzone”. There’s hope for you yet. Maybe.