Disclaimer: The following article was written in response to a previously published Elite Daily piece. The opinions expressed below are solely of the author's, and does not reflect the official position of Elite Daily.
Elite Daily writer Gigi Engle was slaughtered in the comments section of her highly shared (and highly hated) article, “5 Scientific Reasons Women Just Won't Go For Nice Guys.” Twelve months later, it's still making the rounds on social media with 152,000 shares.
Her thesis seems to be women say they want a “nice guy” but find themselves sleeping with non-committal “alpha assh*les.” Speaking to an assumedly female audience she states, “We want those arrogant dicks that make us feel alive.”
This article hit home for the 151,000 people who “liked” it, but it infuriated an impressive number of commentators who took the time to type seething comments, some of them calling the author a “bitch” and a “whore.” Is the author a “bitch” or a “whore?" I don't know her personally. But the feelings this article enticed from those who left such comments are interesting if we look at the sexual politics underpinning her article and the studies she based her reasoning on.
There have been a number of studies (she cited a few) on how women choose mates. Do women choose stable -- assumedly boring and homely -- men? Or do they choose alpha-esque -- assumedly good-looking, narcissistic, and non-committal -- men?
It's a fascinating either-or dichotomy that men are fictitiously placed into.
The author was demonized for speaking on a verifiably hot topic in the field of human sexuality. Let's not overlook the fact that researchers are investing time and money into this burning question. Why are they doing this? Because it appears women make bad mating choices. Even academic researchers must be confounded by this if they continue to study it. The 151,000 (assumed) women who “like” this article are also, perhaps, as equally confounded by the “bad” mating choices they make.
An underlying assumption is women are supposed to like “nice” guys; it's for the betterment of our offspring, or species or something. But they don't. Study after study, one anecdotal experience after another, when left to her own devices, women apparently choose the wrong type of guy.
When we scientifically or conversationally put the lens on who women “choose” to sleep with, it puts the locus of power on women who can grant or deny men sex. This is problematic. (I would like to think men, too, have a say in who they will copulate with because it takes two to tango. However, this egalitarian position is not one widely used by men, or women, to frame their life experience.)
Our culturally conditioned reasoning that women are the ultimate purveyors of sex, is injurious to all.
Not too long ago, a young man went on a rampage, blaming women for not having sex with him. In “Elliot Roger's Manifesto,” he communicates that he's not getting the love he wants (a fair and understandable sentiment), but he feels entitled to it (um…wait, what?) and women need to be punished for withholding this from him (whoa!).
Rogers felt they needed to be punished “for throwing themselves at obnoxious men/brutes,” and refers to his power to kill them all as making him the “true alpha male.” He then killed six people and injured 14 others in a stabbing and shooting rampage in the college town of Isla Vista.
While the individual mentioned above was noted to be mentally unstable, the sentiment behind his reasoning is not unique to him. In her article's comments section, the author is punished and degraded as a “bitch” and a “whore,” very likely because of this kind of reasoning. Perhaps dichotomizing men as “good” and “bad” or “alpha” and "weak" -- on top of aggrandizing women as the ultimate purveyors (and rejecters) of sex -- is breeding a culture of resentment.
To see how ridiculous our unquestioned roles are, let's flip the dynamics. Do men blame themselves time and time again for choosing to sleep with “bad” girls who will never commit to them? Do women hate men for withholding the sex that they feel they are entitled to?
Not so much.
One commenter on the “5 Scientific Reasons” thread accused Gigi Engle of using poorly interpreted science to explain her own life experience. But her experience is not unique; it resonates for the 151,000 readers who “liked” it. And it struck a chord with the disproportionately male commentators who hated it.
The author's article is a product of our times, a reflection of the hopes and fears, desires and anxieties of our populace.
Her argument is not perfect; her writing also assumes that sex equals procreation, and further stipulates that assh*lery is a result of assh*le genetics, rather than personal choice or environmental factors. Science has yet to come to a conclusion on the nature/nurture debate on douchebaggery, but her article was perfectly poised to trigger the anxieties of an audience of males and females who were primed to identify with it or hate it. It was the perfect viral storm.
What can be gleaned from all of this is that, on all sides of the equation, droves of men and women are feeling that they are not getting enough love and affection. At the end of the day, most of us just want to love and be loved, but we don't need to hate each other, or ourselves, while we figure it out.