How not to be "That Guy"

Synecdochic wrote a how-to post on privilege: Don’t Be That Guy.

Excerpt:

This word gets thrown around a lot, and I think everyone uses it a little differently, which is one of the reasons why I have so much difficulty putting it into words. Let me try with: If you approach me with the presumption, stated or implied, that I owe you anything — my time, my attention, my energy, my conversation, my acquiescence to your desires — that’s entitlement. If you make me think that you think you can express a wish and I will fulfill that wish, that’s entitlement.

Women don’t owe you anything: not their bodies, not their time, not their emotion. Hell, not even their attention. (Nobody owes anybody anything except basic courtesy, respect, and trying not to be an asshole.) A lot of guys walk into a situation and give the impression that they have the right to take these things, through outright force or through a more subtle coercion. Giving someone that impression makes you That Guy.

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30 Responses to How not to be "That Guy"

  1. Some Guy says:

    “That Guy” is also known as an Alpha Male, who tends to have the most success in heterosexual relationships. Guys who follow Synecdochic’s advice are considered losers.

    Sad but true.

  2. tekanji says:

    Some Guy: No. You’re wrong, and what you’re saying perpetuates a rather harmful and sexist stereotype. Not to mention that you’re sounding a lot like a Nice Guy (TM), and that’s a major pet peeve of mine. Please go visit the link on my sidebar that says “Heartless Bitches International” and read over all the stuff they have on the Nice Guy (TM) syndrome. I would also recommend that you read The misogynist who gets the girls is a male fantasy.

  3. Ragtime says:

    So, I’m beginning to think that whoever does the advertising for Helzberg Jewelry is the most evil person in the world.

    I drive by their billboard every day on my way to work, and I keep wanting to stop and take a picture, but I’m always driving by and 65 and it doesn’t really seem safe to pull off the road just to take a picture of a billboard.

    Anyway, for months, the billboard has a picture of a guy giving a woman a giant diamond ring, with a caption that was along the lines of: “Sometimes Silence Means Yes.” The idea is, she is so moved by the diamond and proposal that she can’t speak, but every time I drove by, I’d say to myself, “Hey, it’s that billboard for Date Rape Apologist Jewelers!”

    Anyway, last month they changed the billboard, and I was equally disappointed that I lost my chance to take a picture, and happy that it was gone. But the new one was making me uncomfortable too, and I couldn’t put my finger on why until I read this post. The new caption is something like, “That Guy sees the subtle hints.”

    But actually, “That Guy” gets the subtle hints whether they are really being hinted at or not! It’s still a Date Rape Apologist billboard!

  4. Sara no H. says:

    Guys who follow Synecdochic’s advice are considered losers.

    By misogynist men, sure. I know plenty of women who fall all over themselves to be with men who aren’t That Guy. Also, what tekanji said.

  5. Steved011 says:

    I can see the many sides of this. Women are not a monolithic block. Tekanji is speaking truth for and from her point and those who have greater consistency with what they speak and how they act. However I will say many women are not this together. They in effect train young heterosexual males to find loopholes and unguarded access.

    This is not a good or logical policy and the boys/men are partially at fault to take advantage of obviously confused women. However at fault or not the message is being received by those who while would never outright assault or even overtly demand will nevertheless be happy living in the perpetual gray area between the possiblity of consent not fully given and polite refusal with a little guilt for turning down a carefully built nice guy persona. The damage is done by young third party boys/men observing and learning from each success and conquest. Every action you do teaches the world who you are and how to manipulate you.

    No referees or time outs in life

    Steve

  6. Some Guy says:

    I read on it further, and perhaps I may understand it better.

    Men can show proper respect toward women as Synedochic recommends, and avoid being “That Guy”, but they may need to be cold and unemotional to avoid being a “Nice Guy”, so they can have a better chance of attracting women (in general) without disrespecting them and/or invading their personal space.

    Does that make more sense than my initial concept?

  7. tekanji says:

    Steved001 said:

    However I will say many women are not this together. They in effect train young heterosexual males to find loopholes and unguarded access.

    That is a sexist assertion, and one that toes the line of victim blaming. Which is against the discussion rules of this blog. Not to mention that your “confused women” line is pretty fucking patronizing. This is your first, and only, warning. I suggest that you brush up on basic feminism before you comment here again.

  8. Tablesaw says:

    I’m consistently amused when somebody comments on synecodochic’s post and becomes “That Guy.”

    Then I’m saddened.

    I love Cerise, BTW.

  9. steved011 says:

    Your Blog, Your rules …. Understood.

  10. tekanji says:

    Some Guy said:

    Men can show proper respect toward women as Synedochic recommends, and avoid being “That Guy”, but they may need to be cold and unemotional to avoid being a “Nice Guy”, so they can have a better chance of attracting women (in general) without disrespecting them and/or invading their personal space.

    Does that make more sense than my initial concept?

    It makes more sense, but it’s still wrong. Did you read through all the material on Heartless Bitches regarding “Nice Guys”? You still seem to be framing the issue in terms of the false dichotomy often employed by “That Guy” and his “Nice Guy” counterpart.

  11. Some Guy says:

    I’ve read the HBI site a while back regarding “Nice Guys”. Being a “Nice Guy” is self-defeatist and turns women off, I get that much from HBI.

    From what I understand from HBI, a drug dealer would be sexier than a guy who volunteers for a charity (insofar as both treat her right). It’s in their JjIi system.

    Instead of dividing it into a dichotomy of “Nice Guy” and “That Guy”, how about “Sexy Guy” and “Non-Sexy Guy”?Either a man can attract women or he can’t. If his looks and/or personality fail to trigger a woman’s sexual desires, he must change his looks/personality, or he is stuck with his virginity.

  12. tekanji says:

    Some Guy said:

    From what I understand from HBI, a drug dealer would be sexier than a guy who volunteers for a charity (insofar as both treat her right).

    If that’s what you got out of the site, then I don’t know what to say. You’re completely missing the point, both regarding HBI’s information on “Nice Guys” as well as what’s trying to be said about “That Guy”.

    There is no dichotomy. And artificially creating one is just setting yourself up to fail. You’re treating women as if we’re some monolithic group who finds the same things attractive/unattractive, and that’s pretty damn insulting. People — no matter what gender they do, or don’t, identify with — all find different things attractive.

    Some of these things are fucked up; none of us have been socialized perfectly and identifying and eradicating harmful patterns isn’t easy. So, while you will meet people who identify with the harmful stereotyping of heterosexual relationships that we have adopted as a cultural truth, stereotyping an entire gender based on that is bad. The point of the “How Not to be That Guy” post isn’t to make guys feel inadequate about themselves, but rather to establish that, contrary to what we’ve been taught about relationships, it’s a good idea to establish a baseline of respect and, hey, here’s some tips on how to do it.

  13. Some Guy says:

    Put it this way: If the drug dealer and the charity guy went into a bar, which one is most likely to find a date and which one is most likely to walk out of there alone?

    It’s not so much a matter of women being a monolithic block of people who are universally turned on by men of negative attitudes, it’s more of a matter of mathematical probability.

    It’s about who has the better chances.

    And I also understand the point of the how-to above, it determines that each person has an invisible shell around them, and we must respect each person’s shell and only enter that shell if you are invited.

    That oughta help make it clearer, I sometimes suck at explaining things properly.

    Thank you again, and I’ll be on my way. :)

  14. Beste says:

    Tekanji,

    You should read the advice that cassy gives us menfolk in link below…

    http://cassyfiano.blogspot.com/2008/05/paging-men-everywhere-its-time-to-man.html

  15. lkue says:

    Drug dealer? Charity guy? Cold and emotional? The “nice” in Nice Guy has nothing to do with actually being nice, what the Nice Guy does among other things is confusing being nice with being spineless and not doing anything by themselves (take initiative) as I understand it.

    Also:
    http://thehathorlegacy.info/the-misogynist-who-gets-the-girls-is-a-male-fantasy/

  16. tekanji says:

    Some Guy said:

    Put it this way: If the drug dealer and the charity guy went into a bar, which one is most likely to find a date and which one is most likely to walk out of there alone?

    From the information given, it’s impossible to give an accurate answer to the question. You’re presuming that the salient information people use in bars to judge whether or not they want to go home with a man is his job. I shouldn’t have to say this, but that kind of assumption is not only patently wrong but also sexist.

    It’s not so much a matter of women being a monolithic block of people who are universally turned on by men of negative attitudes, it’s more of a matter of mathematical probability.

    Except that you aren’t using probability at all — you’ve offered no statistics, nor even a shred of evidence to support your assumptions. What you’re using is a sexist assumption that only holds water if you treat women as a monolithic block who are universally turned on by “bad” men (ie. your drug dealer).

    Honestly, it’s not the explanation that’s the problem but the fact that the base from which you’re arguing has no foundation in fact. You’re pulling hypothetical examples and assuming an outcome that reinforces your bias without offering any actual evidence to back up anything you’ve said about the interactions between men and women seeking different-sex relationships.

    There is a dearth of information — and I’m talking studies, analysis, and other evidence — on this issue. I’m sure you can also find various articles on Google Scholar. I would suggest that instead of clinging to what you want to believe, that you do some research into the issue (both assenting and dissenting opinions) and get an informed opinion. Especially if you intend on debating the issue on any other post — here, or elsewhere.

    Beste: All I can think of are snarky responses about men with pussies because of what she says about men getting more “pussified” every year. Really, I just can’t take anyone seriously who uses the phrase “real men” (or “real women” for that matter). There is no one “real” man or woman, because we’re all individuals and we’re all different. It’s such a simple concept, and yet people just don’t want to get it.

  17. lkue says:

    Hmmm? Comments stuck in the spamfilter again?

  18. tekanji says:

    lkue: It looks like it went through normal moderation, actually. Every comment on this blog is moderated.

  19. Pingback: Recommended Reading: Don’t Be That Guy. « The Girl Detective

  20. Some Guy says:

    Bah, I guess I don’t really know what the freak I’m talking about. This whole attraction, Alpha/Beta Males, Cocky and Funny, etc. is confusing the heck out of me. I give up. I just don’t know what in the name of grok I’m doing, and I’m not sure I’ll ever completely understand the dynamics of heterosexual relationships.

    Sorry to annoy you with all this crap. I can’t seem to figure it all out.

  21. Valcoris says:

    Outstanding post. I really am glad to hear the your going to mess up line in there. Often I think people become to comfortable or get a pass from others when they mess up so they feel like they don’t. I know often when I mess up I feel like I have done something terrible, it’s nice to have a reminder that when I mess up the solution isn’t to put my head in the sand. I like having a post out there I can read over and over again to remind myself of some of the more subtle traits that are problematic.

    Some Guy:
    The answer isn’t to give up it’s just to take it a little slower. Keep reading and trying to absorb as much info as you can. Tekanji has put together a huge and awesome collection of blogs and sites on her sidebar. Start by reading a few posts from each and keep up with the ones that you find most helpful or interesting. The biggest issue/mistake that your running into is trying to create a system where no system exists. Basically, if you look at it as individual to individual attraction and relation instead of trying to group people into little boxes you’ll have a much easier time. It’s about remembering each of us is attracted to different things.

    I’ll take your charity guy and drug dealer theory and play with it a little. Let’s say the charity guy is well spoken, he’s not particularly funny most of the time but he holds a great conversation, he’s respectful. Let’s take your drug dealer now and make him well spoken, funny most of the time but he doesn’t do many deep conversations, he’s respectful.

    Here’s what happens. If I meet both individuals I am personally more likely to like the charity guy because I prefer long deep conversations over laughs and what most consider fun. It’s a personal preference. It works the same way for any person. Some people may have an issue with the drug dealer because of his job others won’t. Some people will not like the charity guy because of his job. Some people find the funny trait more attractive, others prefer someone more serious.

    The major error isn’t just taking women and makeing them a monolithic block. You have to take it to a really basic level. Does my theory or whatever assert something other than women are people? Does my theory go against the idea that all people are individuals?

    The other part that is kinda eating at me is that you seem to think het sexual relationship dynamics have some magic system they run by that is wholly different. It doesn’t, all relationships are the same basic theory. Individual A likes certain things. Individual B likes certain things. If A meets B whether they form a friendship or not, whether they form a more involved relationship or not is based on the things they each like and dislike and how many or which ones of those the other person has. The things I look for in a partner might be a little different than the things I look for in a friend but it is the same basic theory.

    You have to think about it this way. A man finds a women that is a perfect partner for him. She feels the same way the two enter into a relationship and live happily ever after. Would you make the assumption that the women would be the perfect partner for every man? Then why are you looking for the traits that all women find attractive?

  22. Darth Sidhe says:

    Beste: You’re serious about that “Paging men everywhere” link? I found it impossible to read through without wanting to throw my laptop out the window, and only my sense of civic and financial responsibility prevented me from doing otherwise. Is that article for real and not a satire? If so, I really hope this woman doesn’t call herself a feminist, because that would be a case of “with friends like that, who needs enemies?”

  23. Richard Aubrey says:

    Ref Drug dealer vs. charity guy:

    Let’s change it a bit. They are as described, but the women they meet in the hypothetical bar don’t know their occupations.

    Now what?

  24. Some Guy says:

    http://dating.mediastockonline.com/

    and

    http://www.doubleyourdating.com/

    And much, much more. As if there are a fixed set of Absolute Cardinal Standards for straight men, lesbians, and some bisexuals to adhere to in their quest for romance, love, and sex.

    I’m not sure how the heck I got deceived…

    Some women like Pepsi, some like Coke, some like Diet Pepsi, some like Diet Coke, some like both Pepsi and Coke, some don’t like cola at all.

    But wait, we need a scientist to make Female Cola, a cola that all women will enjoy. How do we make this Female Cola? If we can make this cola, women would stop drinking water, orange juice, milk, coffee, tea, etc. and only drink Female Cola! A company stands to make Trillions of Dollars if it could just find the exact recipe.

    Aaargh. It’s time to start all over again. Thanks Valcoris, I’ll keep that in mind. :)

  25. Valcoris says:

    Richard,

    I don’t see how changing that portion of the hypothetical changes what I said.

    Some Guy,

    Sounds to me like you have figured out a little more. It’s good to hear back from you. It seems to me like your want to understand is genuine. I’m glad to see you didn’t end up giving up. Keep reading, keep learning, keep fighting. As we change our lives and talk about these issues with those around us we make a dent. Every dent we make brings us closer to seeing the patriarchy fall in our lifetimes. Here’s to hoping.

  26. Richard Aubrey says:

    Valcoris:

    The drug dealer’s personality is likely to be different from the charity guy’s personality.
    If so, which would be more attractive to women–who’s got the better chance of getting a date?–if only the personality were on display without the baggage of dueling professions?

  27. tekanji says:

    Richard said:

    The drug dealer’s personality is likely to be different from the charity guy’s personality.

    One drug dealer’s personality is likely to be different than that of another drug dealer’s personality. Same goes for the charity guy.

    Sure, you can argue that their choice of profession may say something about them, but it says nothing about how charming/creepy they will come off as, nor does it say anything about their attractiveness to the kinds of women they go after. Those two factors — which are determined entirely by the individual themselves, not some arbitrary set of traits they ascribe to — are major for deciding whether or not they will succeed at getting a woman interested.

  28. BetaCandy says:

    I’ll throw in another wrinkle. I don’t know about most women, but I am aware that some real psychos choose “respectable” professions to hide their crimes and some law breakers are rather decent, thinking individuals who simply don’t believe the law is right. That’s why the two professions don’t even begin to tell me whether I’m interested in the guy or not.

    Does your drug dealer push crack in schoolyards because he’d sell his mother for a nickel, or does he just believe pot is safer than alcohol and the government is wrong to keep adults from using it? Does your charity guy actually give a shit about the people he’s supposedly helping, or is he just a yuppie cashing in on that “non-profit” tax to get himself and some buddies insanely wealthy (this goes on in charity a lot, actually)?

    The moral stance behind their choice of professions might knock one or the other out of the running for me, but not the profession alone. And then there are questions of personality and looks and all that good stuff I also require to develop interest.

  29. Sara no H. says:

    Does your drug dealer push crack in schoolyards because he’d sell his mother for a nickel, or does he just believe pot is safer than alcohol and the government is wrong to keep adults from using it? Does your charity guy actually give a shit about the people he’s supposedly helping, or is he just a yuppie cashing in on that “non-profit” tax to get himself and some buddies insanely wealthy (this goes on in charity a lot, actually)?

    See, that kind of second-guessing is why I mostly stick with dating within my circle of friends. Which isn’t *really* dating, I’m told. Unless, I dunno, it’s more like “dating with really good references.” I’ve tried meeting people – complete strangers, in other words – but there’s always this really weird air of expectation, not even necessarily of Nice Guy creepyness but just … it’s easy to tell that I’m being “sized up,” so to speak, and there’s a very weird kind of pressure associated with the whole “are we going to be compatible?” thing. I’d rather just be friends and then, if mutual interest develops, go from there.

    Of course, sometimes those friends become Nice Guys, and then there’s drama … but at least it keeps the pack healthy by weeding out the creepies.

  30. tekanji says:

    Sara no H: The couple times I’ve tried dating strangers it hasn’t worked out, mostly because they bore me to tears (and vice versa). I’ve also had problems with getting together with someone and later realizing that they’re a creepy assmonkey — something I would have found out if I had gone through a friendship phase with them first.

    The moral of the story? I no longer date anyone who I don’t first have a friendship with. It’s the easiest way to screen for things like compatibility and hidden creepiness.

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