Just Another Nice Guy?

We’ve all heard of the dreaded Nice Guy™ right? For a lot of us, we’ve crossed paths with him. We know him. He’s a friend. He’s the one claiming he’s different from all the other guys. He promises he’d treat you better than the jerk you’ve spent the past hour and a half crying and complaining about. He believes that he’s the nicest guy on Earth, and that in return his niceness should be rewarded with romantic affection.

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This Nice Guy™ exists both in reality and in fiction. Turn on a TV show or a movie and there’s at least one character who falls into this archetype.

Two weeks ago popular Chinese and Taiwanese American filmmakers, Wong Fu Productions, released their “Just Another Nice Guy” series on Youtube. This three part series is a sequel to an older short film of a similar name“Just A Nice Guy” which was originally released in 2007.

In the 2007 version, the film’s protagonist Nick is the “Nice Guy” who develops unrequited feelings for his friend Amy. While Nick doesn’t come off nearly as entitled and bitter as other portrayals of Nice Guys™ in pop culture, he does exhibit typical characteristics and traits. Nick is awkward, unconventionally attractive and isn’t familiarized with dating and women.

Throughout the film, he’s exasperated over being disregarded as a potential romantic partner and doesn’t understand why women wouldn’t be attracted to “Nice Guys”. After confiding in a friend, who tells him that women only like cocky, confident, and assertive Jerks. Nick attempts to impress Amy by emulating a version of what he thinks is “The Jerk”, eventually he realizes it doesn’t work and gives up. The short film ends with Nick finding the courage to confess to Amy and spoiler alert: he finally gets the girl.

Phil Wang (co-founder) confirmed that “Just A Nice Guy” was an ode to all the “nice guys” in the world, and his intentions in writing the story was to give them hope. This is a good example of pop culture perpetuating and reinforcing this trope. Validating men who live by the Nice Guy™ code does more harm than good.

It also brings us to our next Nice Guy™ from the Wong Fu series, Derek. After watching the “Just A Nice Guy” film and learning what a Nice Guy™ is, he decides he never wants to be subjected to the “Friend Zone”. So, when Derek falls in love with his friend Audrey, he does everything in his power to avoid “falling into the standard Nice Guy™ traps”. His strategies include not talking about other girls in front of Audrey, purposely distancing himself from her, and doing anything that wouldn’t place him in the“Friend Ladder” also known as the “Friend Zone”. Confident that these strategies were working, Derek confesses to Audrey spoiler alert: only to discover that his feelings aren’t reciprocated.

It’s at this point in the short, where I feel that the situation starts to become more reflective of a realistic scenario. For anyone who has been in Audrey’s shoes (I know I have), we understand that when rejecting the Nice Guy™ it only gets uglier and messier from here on out. Derek, unlike Nick, didn’t get the girl and so he lashes out to get back at her. He completely cuts Audrey off from his social media, he avoids any interaction with her in real life, and he goes around telling their friends that she was “leading him on” behind her back. All of these attempts were made to paint Audrey as “The Bitch”, but also to guilt trip her into reconsidering her feelings.

“Just Another Nice Guy” challenged the Nice Guy™ trope in ways that “Just A Nice Guy” didn’t. For instance, I appreciated Audrey calling out Derek on his entitlement to a relationship with her. In the first installment, the narrative of the story was different so we didn’t get to see that same conviction coming from Amy.

Listen my friends. Regardless of genuine intent, no one should be rewarded with romantic attention just because they were performing basic kindness and human decency.

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But while I liked that about Audrey’s character, there wasn’t a deeper evaluation as to where this male entitlement of the Nice Guy™ comes from. It never explicitly connects the idea that cis-het male entitlement, masculinity, misogyny and sexism in our culture helps breed and keeps this trope alive. It also doesn’t address how violent and dangerous Nice Guys™ are and can be, and how that type of behavior often leads to violence against women. There are underlying messages that need to be addressed and discussed, and telling a Nice Guy™  to accept the rejection and move on from it, isn’t the best or only solution to the problem.

 

 

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Pliab (Plee-ah) Vang is Hmong American. A feminist. An undergraduate senior at St. Cloud State University, majoring in Psychology with a minor in Women’s Studies. She enjoys talking race, gender, class, social issues and pop-culture and is passionate about Asian American and Pacific Islander issues. Pliab is a Master of Procrastination. She spends an unhealthy amount of her time binging (but never actually finishing) TV shows, scrolling through Twitter, and hanging out with friends.

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Feminism: The 2016 Edition

Reasons we still need feminism,

And More Importantly…Intersectional Feminism,

The 2016 edition

  • Because I had colleagues who said we should be happy Brock Turner got any time at all for raping an unconscious woman behind a dumpster…

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  • Because of 49 victims in Orlando, who were murdered for being part of the LGBT community…
  • Because…Brexit…
  • Because, in 2016, Hollywood still puts white people in movies instead of people of color…just because “it sells”…
  • Because “Make America White Again” is an ACTUAL campaign slogan…on an ACTUAL billboard.

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  • Because #OscarsSoWhite was a hashtag…two years in a row…

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  • Because the Supreme Court still has to stop lawmakers from banning abortions… 

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  • Because…Bathroom bills…
  • Because Donald Trump is the Republican candidate for the Presidency.

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  • Because the media only uses the word “terrorist” when describing people of color…

 

 

melissa-anne-frankMelissa Anne Frank is majoring in both Women’s Studies and English Rhetoric at St Cloud State University.  She plans on continuing her education with a Master’s degree and then a Doctorate.  Melissa is a white, cisgender, pansexual who is proud to be part of the Social Media team at the St. Cloud State Women’s Center.  Melissa also writes a personal blog called Musing with Melly on WordPress. Melissa loves reading, writing, video games, spending time with her partner and two children, and crushing the patriarchy! 

Battle of the Bodies: Learning to Accept Ourselves

Why is it okay to call me skinny (generally accompanied by a disgusted face) and it’s inappropriate for me to call a heavier woman fat? Both comments are equally hurtful (depending on the individuals’ insecurities). And of course, this incessant debate stems from the current expectation that women should be thin and not weighed down by extra weight. But why is extra weight deemed unattractive today? Why is being thin shameful and envied? Why can’t both be mutually accepted and admired?

What people tend to forget is that no one has the same body structure or metabolism. We all come from couples that have unique body chemistries and even our siblings have different characteristics than us. For instance, I have three siblings and each of us have dissimilar body types than one another. Body diversity is a beautiful thing and it’s time that we all embrace it because no one’s body will ever be the same and fit into the mold society has set out before us. It’s not fair or rational to be upset with someone because they effortlessly (or with effort) embody the current fad of what makes women sexy and appealing today.

The ideal female body is a myth that continually changes in society with each time period. You will notice that during the Renaissance, curvier women were highly coveted; other cultures have marveled at women with mustaches (of all things), and Victorians admired pale women because they symbolized a sense of delicateness. Of course, this list can go on, and in other cultures and nations women are renowned for assets that Americans find odd. Even today when we look at the past few decades, there are startling differences in desired body shapes and beauty. So this trend with thin women will change and (especially with the many movements and campaigns created to promote women of all sizes) society’s tastes are expanding to accommodate curvier women, and those new groups of thin women not fitting the ideal figure will yet again be alienated by society. And all of this has been perpetuated by the media, beauty industry, and archaic ideas of fitness and health.

When we pull out our phones, laptops, etc., we are immediately confronted with impeccably beautiful women. These women tend to have slender physiques and flawless skin. We idolize these women because they look perfect and allow our minds to desire looking like them. It’s obvious the women in these pictures and commercials are re-touched to appear more attractive than they are naturally; we revere them because they are what’s expected of us. It’s a never ending cycle of realizing models are caked with makeup and/or re-touched and vowing to remember this, but it is our inherent need to fit into the mold the male gaze (coined by Laura Mulvey) has designed for us that keeps us at the will of society’s presumptions.

I personally find curvier women sexy even though it’s not my body type; this expectation that only slender individuals are sought-after by men and women is absurd and disproved in many ways.The expectations of sexiness stem from our patriarchal society and I find it surprising that being slender is in right now considering the high adoration put on hourglass figures. Contrary to this, we are lead to believe that women with smaller breasts, a narrower frame, and a definite thigh gap are attractive due to the media and how celebrities (who have personal trainers, chefs, and nannies) look. However, as the media is streaming these ideas into us, we are being brainwashed with flawlessly airbrushed pictures and videos designed to target our insecurities and make us buy makeup to cover our imperfect and un-like model skin, purchase diet systems/foods, buy workout equipment and videos, and so on. Society preys on our existing insecurities and creates new ones in order to fill a capitol need and maintain control through objectification.

So before you shame your body, remember that it’s unique. Although most of the women you see in the media are thin, remember that they’re not the entire female population; they were picked out of thousands of women just like you to maintain the female body stereotype and in almost every case, their appearance is not natural. Before you see a thinner woman and think, “She’s so skinny. I bet she never eats,” remember that that woman may have a health issue preventing her from gaining weight or maybe she’s struggling emotionally and needs support. And before you see a heavier woman and think, “She’s so fat. She needs to lose weight,” remember that she may have a health issue making her gain weight or is struggling emotionally and needs help. It’s paramount that we don’t judge because we don’t understand what other women are going through and it’s not our job to evaluate how well they fit in society’s frame of the ideal woman.

When it comes to our bodies, let’s look inward at ourselves and dig for our redeeming qualities; this’s not always easy, but essential in building our confidence and having the strength to appreciate the various appearances of others too. Let’s not compare ourselves to others, but appreciate and accept that we’re all unalike and that’s okay.

 

Photo: http://xonecole.com/beyondbeauty-11-images-that-celebrates-body-diversity-self-love-within-women/

 

mara-martinsonMara Martinson is a freelance editor, creative writer, and graduate student. She received her Bachelor’s degree in English from UW-Superior and is currently pursuing a Master’s degree in Rhetoric and Writing at SCSU. She teaches ENGL 191 and in her free time, enjoys writing, reading, knitting, crafting, and spending time with her partner and family. Her creative work has appeared in journals including The Nemadji Review, Kaleidoscope, and The Upper Mississippi Harvest. Mara describes her work for Collective Feminism as feminist, capturing the occasional brutality of life and the emotional struggles we all face. 

For My People

By Cassie Brown

For my people who are insecure
For my people who suffer from depression
Who also suffer from anxiety
For my people who don’t have many friends
Who feel alone during hard times
For my people who enjoy being alone
But don’t like feeling lonely
For my people who go throughout the day with a fake smile on their face
Who don’t like sharing their problems in fear of being judged
For my people who have scars to remind them how bad things are
For my people who constantly ask if it’s worth it anymore
And they feel the only escape from their pain is suicide

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Feminist Frequency Video

Good day!

FeministFrequency is a great outlet for folks who are interested in pop culture and sexism!  Anita Sarkeesian is a “media critic and creator of Feminist Frequency.”

Last week, Feminist Frequency released a new video in “Tropes vs Women in Video Games,” a series that looks at some of the ways that women are portrayed in the prominent culture of video games.

 

Take a look at their website too!  http://feministfrequency.com

Plus, Anita Sarkeesian will be at Minnesota State University, Mankato this Monday April 11th, at 7pm, for the 12th Annual Carol Ortman Perkins Lecture.  This lecture is presented by our fellow Women’s Center at Mankato State.  Here is a link to the event https://www.facebook.com/events/1038093112895537/  and a link to the Women’s Center website!  http://www.mnsu.edu/wcenter/

Scrutiny

Emma Watson, Beyonce, Amy Pohler, and Amandla Stenberg.  These women enjoy fame in today’s society.  Each of these women also provide a great role model to women and girls in terms of reaching out with feminism to better the world for women everywhere.  And yet, what I see in magazines and media coverage mostly is someone reporting about their hair, their looks, their clothing.

The scrutiny of women in the media is extremely pervasive.  Have you ever taken a look at some pictures from awards shows?  A reporter might mention the designer of the tuxedo a man is wearing, but they certainly don’t pick apart the choices he makes for his hair, clothing, or jewelry.  A woman is posed and paraded from the time she steps onto the carpet, and then each choice she makes is dissected by a panel of people, the so called “fashion police.”

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Whose American Dream Is It? Falsehood of the American Dream

By Ruth Sybil May

The United States is proudly touted as the “land of the free and the home of the brave.” Anyone living here who has a strong work ethic and a great deal of determination is sure to become successful, achieving the American Dream.  That dream includes: being free, having one’s own nuclear family, and especially acquiring financial stability. At least, that’s what American nationalism and patriotic culture tells us.

But frankly, this supposed pathway to personal and financial success, rooted in a person’s work ethic and goal orientation, is a fabrication of deceit from our highly capitalistic and individualistic Western culture. The ideology of the American Dream is designed to give the oppressed underclass false hope about their own personal power to dig themselves out of poverty. It simultaneously gives class privileged people the false notion that they somehow have earned or deserve everything they possess (despite the fact most class privileged people were ascribed this status at birth). This way, the American middle to upper class’ disproportionate hoarding of wealth is justified by assuming that they must have just worked harder than everyone else to gain all of that money and power.

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Hair Obsession

By Melissa Anne Frank

I have a confession to make; I have been obsessed with the hair on my body for as long as I can remember.

I never considered myself a lucky person when it came to body hair.  Growing up the popular girls in the world were blonde, skinny, and certainly had no “unsightly” hair.  My hair was unmanageable, dark and thick.  Too many times have I heard, “Oh, it’s so dark.  I’m sorry.”  I started shaving in probably 5rd grade, when my mother started noticing how dark the hair was on my pale skin.  By the time I was in 8th grade I was plucking, waxing, shaving, and epiladying almost all the hair on my body (Epilady is a truly torturous device that pulls the hair out of your body at very high speeds).  For most of my adult life I spent more than an hour a day removing hair from my body.  And then something changed.

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