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.

 

 

me

 

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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Hand in Hand

If she holds his hand

She’s an itch, a bitch

Independent, she can’t

Not without a man

And if she is, she’s considered a lesbian

A goddess for one to gawk

With a head for one to mock

Not of worth

Unless naked

Or adorning a short, short skirt

Can’t she dress the ways she desires

With more than man that she aspires

Too much does her body inspire

The wrong things—what the man wants—the liar

If he holds his hand

Is he still a man?

Has he lost what makes him a brother

If he gives into the arms of another?

A being that must be strong

For anything but strong is wrong

He must not cry, he must not sob

He must not wear the woman’s garb

Beaten for being like her

Being awarded for beating her

Forced to live with tightened bounds

But his cries for help lack resound

Can he not live free from the whip that cracks?

From the voices that praise and despise his sex?

If they hold their hand

They are feared, abandoned

The letter overlooked

In the alphabetic set of oppressed crooks

A confusion to pick apart

A problem—an issue not for the faint of heart

For those who have lived with the chains of bi

That punished anyone that dared to try

Those that believed we could be more

More than what we and they have built at the core

Can they not choose what to feel?

Must we comply to the chains; must we kneel?

If we hold each other’s hands

And forget about if one is darker or lighter than

Perhaps then we will realize

That we are living short, piteous lives

Must we be unsatisfied

If we cannot lower one or hate before we die?

There comes a time when we must perceive

That we are not alone on this land or across the sea

Unified we can be better—together

Not in agreement, but with respect, with understanding, for one another

 

 

 

chuaya-loChuaya Lo transferred to St. Cloud as a third year undergraduate. She greatly appreciates the diversity and emphasis on heading towards the goal of a better world of equal treatment and respect. In her free time, Chuaya enjoys writing fiction, watching anime, TV shows, playing video games, and drawing/writing graphic novels. She’s majoring in linguistics with a TESL minor, with the goal of teaching English in Japan.

(Feminist) Thoughts on the March

Just after the Women’s March on Washington, Carly Puch (one of our own!) wrote on her own blog about her experience participating in the march.

She brings together a thoughtful perspective on the empowering heart of the march, critiques of its unmistakable whiteness, and what both of those things mean for the kind of work we have, as feminists, ahead of us.

Here’s an excerpt…

There are improvements to be made, and particularly we white feminists can do better but what these marches symbolized was that recognition. More women are mobilized because for many it is the first time their rights are truly being threatened, whether that be attributed to their race, their class, their age or any other factor that has allowed them to turn a blind eye to injustice. Human rights campaigns in this country have been built on the backs of people of color, do not silence them, but listen and learn to those who have been fighting before you.

Continue reading here!

The kind of work we have ahead of us must not be forgotten or ignored: it must be thoughtful. We must strive to love each other, build bridges between those of us with vastly different experiances, and act beyond our fear to achieve things which may seem impossible.

What do you think?  Let us know here on the blog or write us at collectivefeminism@stcloudstate.edu

The Mark Cohen Complex 

When I traveled to the Philippines for three weeks at the end of last summer, I had a plan to write about my experience. I wanted to share my experiences of seeing my extended family, seeing the sights, and experiencing the difference between cultures that makes the group of over 7,000 islands so unique and dear to my heart. I wanted to write about the horrific traffic, the sky that turned the color of loamy water with the combination of pollution and fog, and the mom and pop shops pressed up against each other like the sardines they undoubtedly sell. I wanted to write about the first day in particular when my uncle picked us up from Ninoy Aquino International Airport and instructed his driver to take us on a tour of “The Real Philippines.” I made a point to bring along a small blue notebook to write down observations and then turn them into a candid analysis of Philippine life through my eyes.

The sight isn’t something that I’ll easily forget. Naked toddlers waddled into the middle of traffic and two five year olds crouched near a drain pipe with plastic Ziploc bags, filling them with rainwater, tinted yellow by God knows what. My sister pressed her finger to the window and said plainly, “That doesn’t look safe.” A few days later, driving in the same car, I witnessed the erecting of a shanty: cardboard and plastic bag walls, sporadic gleams of tin just to give it something resembling strength and to give the illusion that it wouldn’t blow over with typhoon winds. Something deeply bothered me when I looked at this, but I still wrote it down, though keeping most of the details through pure memory. Then, during the last week, we went north of Naga City (where we were staying) to the smaller town of Panicuason. Specifically, to the house on land that my mother and a few more of their siblings owned. It was far from a mansion, just a one story structure with two bedrooms a bathroom and a kitchen; it was one hundred-percent livable. What caught my attention and set off alarm bells in my head was the house adjacent to the main structure, belonging to the maid tasked with the upkeep of the house. Dried out banana leaves and various grasses were woven together for the roof. Posters for cell phone plans made up part of the door, or maybe the outer wall (a literal side by side comparison). And it hit me that I’d never step into that house, that I’d never get close to the shanty or even worry about water to the point that I’d risk my health just to get some. But part of me still wanted to write about it, explore this struggle, and turn it into something.

I started calling this the Mark Cohen Complex, named after the filmmaker in the musical RENT. I called it this for two reasons:

  1. It’s the desire to help in the form of art. Me through writing and Mark through film.
  1. Too late is the realization that it serves more as a buffer between the artist, their art, and the message it’s trying to convey. A wall. A separation to keep that uncomfortable rolling of your stomach out.

In the musical, an old, homeless woman calls Mark out for filming some police officers urging her to get off the street, saying, “I don’t need no goddamn help from some bleeding heart cameraman. My life’s not for you to make a name for yourself.”

And I couldn’t make a name for myself out of the lives of people I saw for less than a second. The churning won out, and I decided to write this piece instead.

I figure that many artists have at least the first part of the complex. And why not? The purpose of art is expression or attempting to make meaning out of things not easily explained. But for me, it was hard to write about the things I saw. I wasn’t sure if I was stepping into shoes that I didn’t even own, or if I was stealing stories and images from people who barely have even that. The line between creating art and using people to do so became a really big issue for me, and I’m still struggling with every aspect of it. I know it’s not about me but about the people who suffer injustices at the hands of cyclical poverty every day. But I can’t use their voices as someone who stays at hotels, resorts, and three story residences when I visit. I’ll never know their story or feel their struggle, so it’d be wrong for me to try and express it.

Many times what starts off as an attempt to help and raise awareness romanticizes the issue with no real work to fight the issues that are romanticized. I think it’s important for artists to understand this line and to start making a concerted effort that directly benefits what they’re trying to create the art out of. With that in mind, after asking people I know who live in the Philippines and have greater knowledge of the workings of local organizations, here are a few charities to support:

Save the Children: Philippines

Gawad Kalinga

UNICEF Philippines

With this I’m hoping to do my part beyond sharing the beauty of this country through the written word.

 

 

thumbnail_147Mariam Bagadion is a second year student at SCSU double majoring in Women’s Studies and English. She has a passion for writing and social justice and thinks the coolest thing in the world is when the two can be combined. In her free time, she writes fiction, watches Netflix, and plays one of the three songs she knows on the ukulele. 

To Those So Concerned

My flesh is not yours

You cannot control it

 

I do not live to please you

Your actions do not affect me

 

Your jargon is futile

It is not your burden to save me

 

Your comments are complacent

Your aim seeks propriety  

 

You do not understand my pain

So do not force your opium down my throat

 

 

Image: http://culturalconundrums.theblogpress.com/2015/02/04/pro-choice-what-does-it-really-mean/

 

 

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 emotional struggles we face. 

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. 

Reflection from the Post-Production of That Takes Ovaries

By Ruth Sybil May

A few weeks ago, I participated in the feminist play titled, That Takes Ovaries: Bold Women, Brazen Acts by Rivka Solomon and Bobbi Ausubel; of which I was a cast member. The play is an adaptation of the book similarly titled, That Takes Ovaries: Bold Females and Their Brazen Acts, edited by Rivka Solomon. The framework of the book/play is a collection of true stories submitted by ordinary people recounting an experience in which they acted of courageously and bravely, told through first-person narratives. The play was organized by recruiting a cast of diverse community members to enact these true stories on stage in front of an audience, mixing activism with performance art in a way that is humorous, yet serious and inspiring at the same time.

Within the play, I played the part of Drake, a young, transgender man on a path of self-discovery and emotional bravery. During his scene, Drake works up the courage to come out to his mother as transgender despite knowing his mother would not react well. After sharing his truth, his parents are apprehensive at first, but soon do their research so they can better support and love their son no matter what, bringing their family even closer together than before.

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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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Special Edition: Critiquing the Critique

Women on Wednesday is a critical program with a rich, 26 year history of highlighting the voices of diverse, intelligent, savvy and  creative people, especially women working to end sexist oppression and promote a safe, inclusive and engaged community through advocacy, education, alliance-building and women’s leadership.

On March 30th, the Women’s Center hosted Vednita Carter and Joy Friedman from Breaking Free, one of the nation’s leading organizations for working with victims and survivors of sex trafficking and prostitution, at a Women on Wednesday session titled “Sex Trafficking 201: Dynamics of Prostitution and Sex Trafficking.” We’re excited to report a record-breaking audience of 157 for this engaging presentation from two survivors about the realities of the sex industry and the experiences of prostituted women. (Follow this link to listen to an audio recording of the session and hear their powerful stories yourself!)

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