Feminist Friday: Grievance Misogyny, Nice Guy Syndrome, and Street Harassment in DC

(NB: This blog is going to discuss issues of gender and sexuality from time to time, particularly where these issues intersect the urban environment in important ways. In this case, sexual harassment greatly impacts urban quality of life for women and sexual minorities, especially in the Washington area.)

Recently a man named George Sodini went on a rampage in a Pittsburgh gym, killing three women and injuring ten others in a dance studio. His blog demonstrated long-standing resentments against women generally, primarily for ignoring him and other men that are “easy to get along with”. This is the kernel of grievance misogyny, much of which is also referred to as Nice Guy Syndrome: that women are bitches for systematically rejecting “nice guys” or “average guys”, tacitly implying that men are owed sex for minimally decent behavior on their part. Here, self-styled “pick-up artist” Roissy In DC makes explicit all of the implications that are otherwise implicit:

When men kill women, the underlying reason is almost always an unfulfilled psychosexual need. This goes for spree shooters, rapists, and serial killers…. As I’ve written before, to men celibacy is walking death, and anything is justified in avoiding that miserable fate.

This is often coupled with a grievance that women prefer “assholes”, particularly meaning dangerously violent men, in the Nice Guy Syndrome variant. Again, the aforementioned Roissy stays classy by showing men how to give the impression that one is a violent asshole in order to win sex and therefore redeem one’s self-worth:

With the right props and an inscrutable demeanor, you can take advantage of women’s instincts to be attracted to violent, unpredictable, enigmatic men. What’s that you say? Hot babes don’t go for criminals, thugs, or cold-blooded soulkillers? Keep telling yourself that.

If your lying eyes aren’t enough to convince you of the depraved nature of women’s desire, take it from the commenters at Roissy who have every incentive to prove me wrong… Do you want a woman eating out of your palm? Make her think you’ve killed people!

What I find distressingly unsuprising is that the apologist currently blowing up the Internet in defense of grievance misogyny and Nice Guys everywhere is from the District, which appears to be in the throes a wave of IRL street harassment. Even panhandlers on street corners and buses here make it entirely clear to local women that they believe they are owed sex. They’ll publicly masturbate in front of them or, as more typically of catcallers, tell them they’re sexy and want their ass and then call them bitches when they respond with anything less than the desired sex act.

A cursory glance at Holla Back DC, Ladies’ Night, Stop Street Harassment or any number of blogs about catcalling in the area reveals many events follow this basic pattern of grievance:

Walking home, a man on the porch said, “Good morning, Beautiful.” I responded flatly, “I don’t appreciate that.” He was surprised and I kept walking. One block away, as I was at my door, he rode by on his bike and yelled, “Fuck you, you stuck up bitch!” I yelled back, “Sir, can I explain?” I wanted to explain to him how his comment of “beautiful” made me feel, but he wouldn’t stop.

“Beautiful bitch”. “Beautiful bitch“. “Pretty, ugly, stupid bitch“.

Possibly the most obvious thing about this recurring theme is its apparent cognitive dissonance. How can these statements come within sixty seconds of each other?

One possible explanation is that on the street, consent and complicity is assumed, and anything other than delight in being seen as a purely sexual object is seen as an unexpected, incomprehensible aberration. (This, despite the fact that catcalling is maybe the least adaptive courting behavior possible, with a success rate of roughly 0%.) Thus, the catcaller automatically seeks an explanation for what could possibly be wrong with the sex object, as the problem could not be with his own “nice” or “normal” sexual behavior. She must be “stupid”, or not attracted to any men (oh the horror), or maybe not a ["real"] woman at all!

(This situation can lead to anti-trans harrassment and violence, which like anti-gay violence has been on the rise in DC. This stems in part from increasingly volatile rhetoric against same-sex marriage in local churches, as well as a backlash from the pressures of gentrification that are seen in part to stem from an influx of LGBT whites into former black enclaves. Regardless of possible causes, it has resulted in the reactivation of GLOV, a taskforce against anti-queer violence in Washington.)

This may not be the “bad old days” of careening, insurmountable violent crime rates like we saw in the DC of the 1980s and 1990s. Such violence is unlikely to return in such numbers, but it is on the upswing, and much of it is bias crime against women and sexual minorities. For those of us who live in Washington, how can we put a curb on this and increase public understanding so that the region isn’t further perceived as a haven for misogynists and their apologists?

~ by J.D. Hammond on August 7, 2009.

10 Responses to “Feminist Friday: Grievance Misogyny, Nice Guy Syndrome, and Street Harassment in DC”

  1. I tried to reason with some of the posters there, but nothing seemed to work. Even after explaining how successful I’ve been in my relationship with a woman, some guy tried to play Iago and convince me that she was going to leave me if I didn’t subscribe to his dehumanizing “Game” theory. I had to stop replying there in order to keep my sanity, and my lunch.

  2. “Beautiful bitch”. “Beautiful bitch“. “Pretty, ugly, stupid bitch“.

    Possibly the most obvious thing about this recurring theme is its apparent cognitive dissonance. How can these statements come within sixty seconds of each other?

    Mmmmm, maybe because that’s not what was said. He said, “Good morning beautiful.” He did not say, “Beautiful bitch.”

    Ever heard of something called “projection?”

    • He called her a bitch within sixty seconds of calling her beautiful. Did you actually read everything he said, or did you just come over here from Roissytown to pick on me for calling people out?

      Two seconds’ Googling, dude. Stay classy!

  3. Ugh. Tupac is a regular commenter at that site. Which means he will never get it, even if you use flashcards and diagrams and reward correct answers with cookies.

    • For them, we’re not persons, just lifeless, vacuous objcets and vessels with two holes who are supposed to fall for their tripe. Sounds alot like a serial killer to me. Check out Bill with True Forced Lonliness. People, er, serial klillers like Tupac Chopra will never get it. They don’t want women to have the right to consent. They want a dead body, liek most serial killers. I am convinced that if tehy could put us in a vegetative state, thay would. This only supports the notion that they want us to be real life blow up dolls, always consenting.

  4. Brilliant! I couldn’t of said it better myself. “Nice guy” is just a form of game to them, which makes them WORSE in that they are using niceness as a pretext to gain that women’s trust and be a complete douchebag and use her for docuhebag purposes! Also, based on the number of whinning “nice guys” I see on Youtube, they all have a violent streak, a potential for being a serial killer, which makes them even more insidious.

    The problem with these guys is that they have an entitlement mentality, an entitlement to any woman they like, and that these women who are the victims for their “attraction” should give them the same consideration they WOULDN’T give a woman they DIDN’T find attractive. To them, we are not equal; but vacuous objects who are supposed to fall for their master slave plan of falling for their game. If it was about equality, they would respect the fact that, just like they do, we have a preference too and a right to that preference. Until then, they will never stop seeing us as objects and never start treating us as human beings, persons!

  5. I also wanted to add that my father was a true gentlemen. My fathr took care of his wife and his kids. He even adopted my half brother and treated him as his own son. That’s what a MAN does, take care of kids, his wife, and his family and respects the nature of women just as he would want reciprocated for him. All of thse a**holes talking about, “Nice man,” macho, etc. Whatever happened to GENTLEMEN!

  6. [...] suggests remarkable indifference to) sexual assault and the nature of it, much of which occurs in public spaces, some of which are quite neotraditional and quaint. There are two charitable assumptions: that they [...]

  7. “Nice man,” macho, etc. Whatever happened to GENTLEMEN!”

    They didn’t get laid…

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