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.
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.
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?