Albert vs. Mansini: Nice Guys Finish Last
By Matthew Green at Jun 22, 2008
Albert and Mansini: Nice Guys Finish Last.
This morning I read something that disturbed me. It was an article on Yahoo called "Why ‘Nice' Guys Finish Last" by a relationship expert April Mansini (http://dating.personals.yahoo.com/singles/datingtips/85967/dating-secret-exposed-why-nice-guys-finish-last;_ylt=AqXTOQtJFcFJlLe.eLFLIvMazJV4). I naturally had to read it because I consider myself a rather a kind person, I don't like competition, and I wouldn't be surprised if I was considered a boring person by women. I read the article and there are some things which I could definitely see Ms. Mansini's point. For example, I can understand that some women are turned off by a man who appears "desperate" and "clingy". I have no problem agreeing that "desperate" and "clingy" are unhealthy for not just a man but anyone. Anyone who has an emotional insecurity problem is going to look to a source more secure and this insecure person is going to cling onto a secure person to compensate for a lack of security and self-worth on that person's part. But what struck me in particular is that what Ms. Masini was describing sounded a lot like altruism on the part of men who are deemed "too ‘nice'". The man who gives almost unconditionally, without getting anything, cares too quickly and too much. The man who gives all he has without getting anything in turn. Okay, altruism is unhealthy as I believe egoism is. Just as I consider participatory planning to be a better alternative to central command planning and market competition, I consider humanism to be a better ethic than altruism (which I am convinced underlies state-controlled economies such as those described in the past as "fascist") and egoism (which I believe underlies the market-competition mentality of political conservatives and "libertarian" capitalists).
Fine and good and I find myself in agreement on this point. But what bothered me was the "boring" description. Guys who are too ‘nice' are "boring" and "predictable". I am curious: why must a guy be exciting? I am not an exciting person. I am probably as predictable as a clock if by that, someone knows that I prefer a quiet household to come to after work, I like to read books, maybe watch a DVD. My goal in life is to become a degreed scholar and a college instructor. I really have no interest in doing anything "exciting". So, sue me! I have been wondering something though: is this attraction to "exciting" something that is biological or evolutionary in nature? Is it something that is economic?
My reason for asking is simple: I believe in equitable cooperation among human beings. This is a reason I find Parecon particularly attractive. In fact, I enjoyed watching Michael Albert on a video explaining why he felt Parecon was necessary. He began by saying that he supposed that there were people who had no problem with the way things were. He described people who thought it was okay that we lived in a land of plenty and there were people who were living under bridges and were homeless. He replied, "I don't think that's OK". He described the "rat race" mentality of capitalism and the hostile individualism that capitalism creates. He then recalled the remarks of a famous baseball manager who used to say "'Nice guys' finished last" and he recalled how everyone "laughed and giggled". Albert went on to describe how he felt that this was a horrendous condemnation of a society to have said "'nice guys' finish last" and said that he wasn't as gentle as the baseball manager but would reply "Garbage rises".
I concur with Albert on this. I was watching a television program called "Hell's Kitchen" and one young lady who was a participant on the program said she "didn't get where I was by being nice". That bothered me, to be honest. What it suggested to me as that people can best get ahead these days by being jerks, by being callous, by viciously competing against others. Being "nice" and "kind" and "gentle" towards others is scoffed at as being wimpy and weak. To be considered a "man" these days, a man must display a cold and callous behavior towards others, especially women. Men are praised as "men" if they are not only cold and callous towards women but also if they "score" with them, that is, they succeed in getting a woman to have sex with them.
I find this mentality cruel, cold, and disgusting. I am curious if Michael Albert is willing to read the article above and give me his take on it. Would he apply his criticism of the competition mentality of market capitalism, exemplified by the "nice-guys-finish-last" remark to the world of dating? I am curious as to what Albert thinks of women who aren't attracted to guys who are kind because they're "boring" and "predictable" or that they're considered too "weak" and "wimpy". When I think of this, I am wondering if this article would have "market competition" written all over it. Guys who are "nice" have to stop it because they are not valued and cannot compete with the cocky and arrogant guys- it's all about bargaining power and competition. Would Albert agree with this?
Personally, I am wondering about the relationship that Albert has with his partner Lydia Sargent? I am wondering what Sargent would say about this? I am wondering what makes their relationship work. Albert doesn't strike me as the cocky asshole kind of guy and he obviously disdains, as I do, the "nice-guys-finish-last" mentality of market competition. Another question I have is this: what will the relationship between the genders be like in "Participatory society"? What will romance be like in this kind of society? Will men have to compete for the affection of women? Probably not but I don't know. I am thinking that the thing to do is to read Real Utopia or Liberating Theory to find out.
I have a confession to make here: I have always been a kind person. I love being a kind person. I have also been labeled a "wimp" and a "sissy" my whole life. There was one time where I came to conclude that I simply wasn't a "pursuer" when it came to women. I felt some relief but I also felt shame. It's like I wasn't even really much of a man because I wasn't the cocky type for whom women swooned for. The thing is that I was being honest with myself. I don't like being judged as a "wimp" and a "sissy". I do condemn what I take to be acts of cowardice, especially when a person doesn't stand up for one's values and I probably guilty of that to some extent which I regret. But why is being kind vilified as being wimpy and why is callousness exalted and glorified as being strong?
I don't like it when people are condemned as being "wimps" and "sissies". I don't like it that the "warrior" mentality is glorified and valued. I never felt it was fair to be judged like this. I never liked fighting, trying to prove my worth in a world of competition. I like the idea of caring and nursing those who are considered the "weak" among us, so they feel loved and valued. Personally, I don't like the idea of having to compete with other men for a woman's affection. I am not sure what to do about the "clinginess" or "desperation" problem. I honestly cannot stand a woman who plays "hard-to-get" or a woman who wants me to compete for her affection. I am only attracted to a woman who likes me because she thinks I am sweet and adores me for it.
Back in my Evangelical days, I once read an advice article in my sister's teen magazine Brio. This magazine is produced by the Christian fundamentalist organization Focus on the Family. A teenage Christian girl from
When I read this, I wanted to hug this girl. I regretted not living in
This article made such a deep and lasting impression on me (despite the fact that I find Susie Shellenberger to be creepy; I found her to be too goofy and silly back even back in my Christian days and she had values that I find repugnant, such as it's the man's role to be the pursuer). I continued to wonder about this girl and if there were any other girls just like her? But what made her so different? Why was it that she adored a guy who was sweet whereas in our modern culture, kindness is condemned as being wimpy? How is it that some woman seem either to break from the spell of always seeing the cocky asshole as being valuable and attractive and the kind guy as being wimpy or that they're never entrapped under the spell in the first place?
I figure that she's not the first person to like a guy because he's sweet and doesn't need a guy to be cocky, outgoing, and exciting to find him attractive. I hope to hell that she's not the last person to do so. But how do women like these either break out of the mold or resist being molded in the first place?
I have noticed that I have gotten to be friendlier with people over the years. I am not as shy as I used to be and I have learned to be more outgoing. But I still love to be kind and I feel that kindness is underrated. While kindness is scorned and vilified in society as being weak and wimpy, kindness promotes solidarity among human beings. Kindness is a virtue. Kindness is the kind of virtuous character trait which should be, as the philosopher Immanuel Kant said, part of the "categorical imperative". I believe that women should appreciate kindness and be attracted to men who are kind. Maybe the problem of "clinginess" and "desperation" is something that can be worked on. But I don't like the idea of worth and bargaining power that Masini talks about above in her article.
I am not a pursuer when it comes to women. I don't like pursuing a woman or competing with other men for the purpose of winning her affection. To me, the idea of having to compete with other men for a woman, and of showing her that I think I deserve her, to me is too much like the idea of being rewarded for the contribution of one's labor in the marketplace. In fact, I think an interesting analogy can be made. It seems to me that women who are attracted to a guy who is cocky, funny, and exciting, seem to think that "'nice' guys" do not value themselves because if they did value themselves, they would be more confident and they would compete with other men, showing that they think they deserve a woman's interest and deserve to be rewarded with her affection.
In the same way, capitalism rewards people according to the contribution of their labor and property. This promotes a "market competition" among people as those who think that they contribute more in terms of their labor, should reap more in terms of a reward. In the case of romance, the reward for the "contribution of labor and/or property" is getting the girl. The more you compete with other men, the more you show yourself as someone who is valuable and is deserving of a romantic reward. I wonder what would happen if April Mansini was to have a conversation about romance, capitalism, and Parecon with Michael Albert, Lydia Sargent, or Barbara Ehrenreich. What would she conclude? What would Albert, Sargent, Ehrenreich or others conclude about Mansini?
I want to ask something here: what do women like Sargent and Ehrenreich think about the "nice guys finish last" remark? What would they think about the article that I linked to above? I have decided that when I can afford it, I am going to purchase a copy of Real Utopia and maybe even read a copy of Liberating Theory as well. I want to know how gender relationships, romance, and sexuality will be like in a participatory society. As for those who radically envisage it differently in a participatory society than they do now, how did they come to conclude that it ought to be different? What problems arose and how did they came to the attention of these thinkers and authors who conclude that it ought to be different? I am curious about something: the girl I mentioned above, from
For women who adore sweet-natured guys like me, what do they think about Parecon, a "participatory society", and the critique of capitalism by folks such as Michael Albert and Robin Hahnel? I am curious as to what they think and why? Frankly, I am surprised that this girl from Jeanette, Pennsylvania liked a guy who was sweet-natured and shy, particularly since in the Christian fundamentalist circles that Focus on the Family serves, the "warrior mentality" is glorified and kindness, meekness, and gentleness are scorned as being "weak" and "wimpy". A true anomaly indeed! Maybe this girl whoever she was, back then as a teenager, is now a supporter and fan of Parecon, along with her sweet-natured husband (assuming the two met, romanced, and are married).
I guess the next question is: what is to be done?