The modern and supposedly admirable answer to yesterday’s patriarchy is the Nice Guy, says Eva Wiseman, editor of the Observer magazine. The Nice Guy defines himself according to his liberal values, i.e. how much respect he doles out to people not as privileged as himself. “Like he’s giving ribbon-tied gifts rather than just being a grown-up. Who talks about the ‘beauty of childbirth’, about his admiration of ‘strong women’, ‘real women’. About the way he appreciates not tits and arses, but minds…” But Wiseman says this saccharine generosity is code for: “Don’t do what men want, do what Nice Guys want!”
What’s the Big Idea?
One of the Nice Guy’s trademark generosities is his appreciation of women without makeup, as though his countervailing aesthetic, which happens not to include women’s pastes and powders, will make them feel any more secure. “The only difference between Nice Guys’ misogyny and that of their fathers’,” said Wisement, “is that Nice Guys’ misogyny is in disguise. It’s wearing a little hat. An eye patch. Nice Guys cuddle you tightly, then half an hour later you realise they’ve nicked your wallet. Nice Guys lift up women on their shoulders, but only to make sure they don’t see all the stuff they’re crushing underfoot.”