Do you love a bad boy?

// 20 June 2008

All you heterosexual ladies out there, what do you think about this? You’re in a pub. Two men are sat at the bar. One is reading a newspaper, smiles gratefully (without making eye contact) at the barmaid who passes him his pint, and returns to his crossword. He is polite, plain and inoffensive, blending into the décor like a badly painted landscape picture. Unless he spoke to you, you wouldn’t notice him. He’s single. He’s not charismatic, and he cannot sweet talk, but he’s a nice man. He slouches. He lacks confidence. He could be attractive if he wasn’t so, well, boring. He’s had a string of relationships, treats his girlfriends well, falls in love easily, and in turn is left heartbroken every time the most recent love of his life stops returning his calls, tells him he’s too intense and refuses to relinquish his copy of The Shawshank Redemption.

At the other end of the bar sits a man surrounded by ladies. He arrived with the blonde on the right, but is preoccupied with the brunette on the left while the little non-descript blonde strokes his chest and whispers to him. She fails to move him beyond nonchalance. He stares at the barmaid’s cleavage as she passes him his drink, grinning when she blushes and looks at him, embarrassed and horrified. He grins, refuses to look away and says nothing. He assumes she fancies him: he could have her if he wanted. If a woman has some flesh on show, it’s his right to look, of course. The other girls fawn over him, but when his mobile rings he stands-up, shakes them off like flakes of dandruff and takes it, no apologies or explanation offered. He has a lot of women, but is not in a relationship. He doesn’t want one woman no matter how much she begs him. He offers love sentiments like sweeties, saying what he needs in order to provoke the desired response to fellate his vanity. He’s good looking, or at least he thinks he is, and it shows. His self-assurance is compelling as much as it is repulsive. He picks up women and drops them like stones, but yet they ache for more.

So, you walk into this bar. Mr Nice Guy is still sat alone, reading the newspaper and pondering over 21 down, in a ploy to make himself look less like a loner and more like someone at ease in his own company. He’s not. Mr Bad Boy has returned, takes up his seat and finishes his drink offering nothing more than the claim of “business” as the young girls continue to paw and vie for his attention, while he’s completely preoccupied with the gorgeous young strumpet that’s just walked in (you!). What do you do? He smiles at you, you feel attractive, and yet can sense he’s callous, self—obsessed and likely to fuck you and chuck you (words he’d probably use if willing to speak openly) before you’ve had chance to catch your breath. If you had to, which one would you choose?

Now, forget the bar setting, and forget my (frankly) awful attempts at trying to epitomise this idea, but while the sensible, safe option would be to go with the crossword geek, why is it that the vast majority of us are still overwhelmingly attracted to the spiteful, vain, indifferent types who are likely to use us sexually, treat us badly and break our hearts? Not my words, the words of Mr Peter Jonason, Scientist at New Mexico State University in the United States. Well, maybe not his words exactly, but this is the essence of his argument, citing James Bond as the perfect example of the cad who gets the ladies:

He’s clearly disagreeable, very extroverted and likes trying new things – killing people, new women.

While Ian Fleming’s fictional creation makes for good viewing, let’s not forget that Bond is a character that exists on paper – in novels, film scripts – he is not real. And to list “killing people” as a throwaway interest that apparently enhances Bond’s sex appeal (although I know he does only kill the “baddies”), can’t really be used as a prototype for real life because if such a character were to exist, rolling around the UK, killing those with facial disfigurements, disabilities, penchants for cats and clear psychological disorders culminating in their desire to take over the World, then I’m sure, aside from the fact the recruitment process for the Civil Service would be brought into disrepute, he would be arrested. He would be considered a psychopath. (Plus, wasn’t his throaway babe attitude towards women and relationships fostered by the fact he was burned by a woman who betrayed him? Isn’t he just a man launching an assault on the female sex in order to prevent himself from getting hurt once again? And did this revelation make Bond less attractive?) I’ll stop being facetious and will try to look at this logically, and assess the attributes with which Bond is invested that can be transferred to the everyday man. OK, he’s independent, confident and saturated in self-belief. He’s a charmer, intelligent, and isn’t afraid to use violence if the situation presents itself, and always wins. If you were with Bond and some other cheeky young scamp tried to woo you or feel you up you know JB would have him by the nuts. While you’re with him and he wants you, he will treat you with respect, albeit superficially. He considers women as nothing more than disposable goods, while at the same time treating the one he is with as the most beautiful sensual thing ever to exist. Other women envy you when you’re with him, but can’t handle him themselves. Sounds good and bad, no? So what’s the problem? Well, he doesn’t really mean it. He is ruled by his desire to get laid, to conquer, to be the first to have the stand-offish stunning woman who everyone wants but only a few will get. Is it true that we want strong men, men who will take what they want when they want it? Do we really want to lose control? And by default, do we find something gratifying about being treated badly? About pouring our heart and soul into a few clumsy encounters with a man we adore, only to be tossed aside like a dirty old porn mag? Or rather to we like the bad boys because we hope upon hope that somehow we will be able to change them? We hope that he will become so enamoured with us that he will be forced to change his wily ways – he’ll simply be unable not to, and in this respect is it not our own vanity that comes into play?

As part of his research Jonason subjected 200 male college students to stringent personality tests, designed to determine the strength of their so-called “dark triad traits.” These traits include self-obsession, vanity, callousness and deceit, to name a few. These men were also probed about their attitude towards sexual relationships, including the number of sexual partners they had and whether or not they enjoyed one-night stands. Putting aside the fact that sexual promiscuity is something women, as well as men, enjoy at university (and indeed can at anytime should they so wish) – sex without strings – Jonason’s results found that men who ranked highly for their dark triad traits had more sexual partners and more interest in short-term relationships and flings. I wonder also to what extent Jonason took into account the possibility of error. If these men were shown to be arrogant through personality testing (plus they were college boys, after all) is it not highly likely that these bright young things will have been stretching the truth regarding their sexual vivacity and experiences and, say, lying their arses off to impress their interviewers? How accurate can the results of any testing like this be? Jonason’s findings were supported by the work of Professor David Schmitt of Bradley University, Illinois, whose study of 35,000 people in 57 countries found a direct correlation between man’s sexual success with women and their dark triad personality traits. Schmitt said:

It’s universal across cultures for high dark triad scorers to be more active in short-term mating. They are more likely to try and poach other people’s partners for a brief affair.

“Poach other people’s partners:” Is anyone else getting flashbacks to the animal channel? Imagining fully-grown women sat in bird’s nests waiting for the male to return, his cock flying overhead like a delicious worm, as these ladies scramble for it, before some other hopeful sweeps in and takes them? Maybe it’s just me, but that sounds a bit too much like the Animal Channel. The implication that women can be passed around, used, and taken by a variety of men as a sexual commodity by the scientist involved in this research suggests the sexism inherent in the industry. This sweeping statement totally fails to appreciate a woman has her own consciousness with the capacity to make her own decisions despite what “science” considers her to find irresistible. But, back to the so-called “evidence:” in general, we are more attracted to the narcissistic bad guy, but why? The science behind it claims that we equate these negative attributes with masculinity, and therefore believe that such cads are more likely to father healthy children, the cads in turn being given the opportunity to spread their seed far and wide without the obligation of attending parent’s evening. But there is no empirical information to prove this. This is nothing more than speculation, and why is it that everything scientists endeavour to investigate regarding male-female relationships has to be entwined with a woman’s fertility and her allegedly inherent desire to procreate? Yes, we may be attracted to these men, we may have one-night stands with them, but we may also get up in the morning go home (or kick them out) satisfied that last night we got laid fantastically by someone we actually quite fancied, and think no more about it.

But how does this translate in the real world? Well, I’ll put my hands up to this one. As ashamed as I am to admit it, I’ve always been attracted to arrogant men. By which I mean men harbouring an inflated sense of their own self-importance and a tendency towards indifference. I don’t know why: if it’s because it poses a challenge, and I hope I can change these men, break them down and rebuild them, it can’t be helped. I find confidence a big turn-on, and I like the idea of being with a man other women covet and want. It must be an ego boost to think you’ve been chosen by someone who could have whoever he wants, even though you quickly realise you’re one of many and not even at the top of the list, but squeezed somewhere at the bottom between collecting laundry and getting a hair-cut. There is something strangely attractive about the callous man. Why? I don’t know. In reality I would not like this, I would feel used, and it would be unacceptable. In fact, I would try my best to ensure this does not happen. Yet this, like Bond, is something belonging to a dream (nightmare?) world, and while I am attracted to these men I try to have enough control over my feelings to realise that a brief fling would never be anything more than that, so why not enjoy them? I consider myself, like many women my age and older, to be an independent and confident, and surely with this independence comes the capacity to have my own fantasies, my own desires, and my own choice to act on them. This is an attraction based simply on lust and fantasy, and the belief that someone with these characteristics could satisfy my sexual desires. I’m not saying that this is the case for everybody, but having a one-night stand with a man confident enough with his body to be liberated in the bedroom and take control would, I imagine for me, be pleasurable. So while, for the sake of vanity, these men love to feel they’ve left women around the world broken hearted, is it not true that many women only really want horrible self-centred men as living sex toys rather than for keeps? Is it not true that women are now feeling empowered to take what they want? And is it not the arrogance of these men that makes them assume they are the be all and end all of any woman’s life they enter, rather than owing to any proof? While the empirical information puts emphasis on the fact these men have one-night stands, and casual relationships, what they ignore is the fact that the women they are involved with are doing the same thing! Why is it the woman always has to be positioned as the used, and the man as the user? While admittedly women are the victims of a lot of injustice in the twenty-first century (and this is by no means the worst), the fact that we are repeatedly denied our fantasies and sexual desires by the popular press means that it still remains unacceptable for us to actively pursue them.

What’s interesting (and frustrating) is the way a publication like The Daily Mail (male) deals with these findings. It almost relishes the idea that women can still be controlled by their base carnal desires to such an extent that they will give it all up for men who actually couldn’t give a shit about them. The implication is that we are weak, they are strong, that we are the victims, they are the victors, that this is the way it is, has always been and always will be. We’re painted as a victim of our need to find prospective fathers for our babies, and men championed as heroes for getting their leg over despite being self-interested, ignorant tossers. What’s more offensive akin to these sweeping generalisations is the failure to recognise the nuances of a woman’s sexual preferences. It we like the bad boy, then we can’t like the nice boy. However, while the old adage that “nice guys finish last” has been dusted off and thrust back into the gender politics circuit, is it not true that while us ladies may not want a kind thoughtful man as a shag-buddy or a one-night stand, we are more likely to want to settle down and build a life with them? Is it not true that while the patriarchal womaniser may get more action, the nice guy gets consistency and quality and love, and so is the latter not in a better position? Sort of like the tortoise and the hare: while the nice-guy has a slow start, doesn’t push himself onto the ladies and generally goes with the flow, he finally meets a woman and has a loving, meaningful relationship whereas the hare, quick of the mark, fucks everyone and everything along the way, getting de toured en route by a need to get his ego massaged once again by a cacophony of different women, and so he never gets one for keeps. While The Daily Male uses this information to infer nice guys may as well give up and start treating women as cock socks in order to get what they want, nice guys certainly do not finish last. Surely we women are allowed to indulge our sexual attractions towards men we may not necessarily like as people just to get a gratifying lay – so why is it that this has to be seen as having bigger implications than necessary? Nice guys, don’t use this as justification to launch a deceitful and downright spiteful sexual tirade against us, just be patient and give us space!

But, as always, I’d be interested to know what everyone else thinks. What do we want?

Comments From You

Fran // Posted 20 June 2008 at 7:45 pm

I thought the conclusions the researchers drew from their findings were questionable. The study was all about the behaviour of men with certain personality traits, not women’s reaction to them, and as such it says far more about men that it does about women.

The Daily Mail article said, “The results showed that men who scored higher on the trio of traits tended to have more partners and more interest in short-term relationships.” The last part of this sentence is, in my opinion, key to what’s going on here. Men with this “dark triad” of traits are more interested in short-term relationships, which is why they’ve had more partners. “Nice” guys, on the other hand, are more interested in settling down — or at least, they aren’t interested in treating women like they’re disposable. They’ve had fewer partners because they don’t want a lot of partners, not because they’re less attractive to women.

Maybe women really are more attracted to the bad boys. But this study, focusing as it does solely on men’s behaviour, indicates nothing of the sort.

Rachel // Posted 20 June 2008 at 7:51 pm

Regarding your hypothetical guys: I choose neither. Obviously the guy who treats women as disposable objects of his pleasure is someone to be avoided at all costs — unless one’s attitude toward men is similar to his attitude toward women, but there is no potential for a healthful adult relationship with any person who views partners as objects rather than people.

But there’s a problem with the “crossword geek” too. He may respect the women he’s with while he’s with them, but once they’ve trodden on his poor widdle hearwt, they too become objects. Being told by girlfriend after girlfriend that you’re too intense probably means that you’re… too intense. Refusing to learn from evidence that presents itself in relationship after relationship, blaming the elusive “her” for his broken heart, is not only an immature attitude that may get the guy laid once in a while (or a lot if he becomes anorexic and starts writing songs about how sad he is that she left and destroyed him with her daggers of love or whatever), he’s not really worth being around.

There’s a special kind of guy (for us hetero girls) who falls in the middle of that spectrum. He’s never alone in a bar because he’s got friends, but if he came in with one girl, he’s certainly not going to flirt with any others, nor treat her like a piece of meat to be oggled (except possibly in a covert way that demonstrates he appreciates her beauty, but also respects her). If he didn’t come in with someone, he will flirt shamelessly because he can, but he’s never disrespectful in his flirtation. I like that guy, (and know him quite well — he also really loves Bond movies, but I don’t think he’s ever read the books; I may send him this article), if I wasn’t already nailing him (she said, tongue in cheek with a pip of laughter) I would want to.

Lauren O // Posted 20 June 2008 at 7:54 pm

I’d like to think there’s a sort of middle ground between “boring nice guy” and “arrogant bad boy.” I’ve always dated interesting nice guys who had more to them than just being nice. A brief fling with a “bad boy” was enough to put me off them for life. Your quote about being on par with laundry or a haircut in terms of importance is spot fucking on.

Jack Leland // Posted 20 June 2008 at 8:15 pm


It should be obvious that nice guys envy arrogant studs because nice guys want to be, as you put it, “living sex toys” for “vain, empowered” women. Your apparent blind spot is that nice guys don’t want to be used. Of course they do. That’s why they play nice!

Mary Tracy9 // Posted 20 June 2008 at 10:18 pm

Yet another study about “nice guys vs bad assholes”.

WHAT ABOUT WOMEN WHO ARE NICE and don’t even get a second look and MEAN WOMEN WHO GET ALL THE MEN??? There are as many bad men as bad women. Yes, men too flock towards the meanest ladies. But no study EVER questions this. Probably because then the menz would be the ones looking stupid.

Feminist Avatar // Posted 20 June 2008 at 10:30 pm

I agree with Fran. There is a major assumption here that having many sexual partners makes you more successful as a ‘man’ than having few. You can choose to be in a committed relationship and still get lots of sex!

Plus there are plenty of ‘nice guys’ out there that don’t sit lonely at the bar.

Denise // Posted 20 June 2008 at 10:41 pm

I am convinced that this ”women love bad boys’ thing is a product of sad male wishful thinking. And the Daily Mail, i.e. much the same thing.

I find most “bad boys” to be nothing but self-obsessed bores, not remotely attractive or interesting. They like to think they are, of course, but I reckon that’s the positive level of self-delusion thing, without which a lot ofthem would have serious mental breakdown or chuck themselves over the nearest bridge.

Great post, Abby! You are the star of the F-word, darling.

yeomanpip // Posted 21 June 2008 at 1:38 am

Rachel and Mary tracey9 both have raised the best points here (IMHO).

Both of these men could well be misogynists and, indeed, what about all the nice girls?

It’s people that are different, regardless of gender, its only societies BS that enforces the stereotypes that are neccessary for this type of ‘research’.

On the subject of Nice Guys, Jeff Fecke at Shakesville explains it quite well, just c&p this link …

Jack Leland // Posted 21 June 2008 at 1:42 am

Mary Tracy,

Yes, it is true. Men do flock to mean women. No one ever talks about it, though. It really is rather commonplace. But if you express that truth by saying “assertiveness is sexy,” well, then you’re a misogynist! Go figure.

Rachael // Posted 21 June 2008 at 8:28 am

Why would we find the bad-boy attractive? Because patriarchy says we should like guys who dominate us – not rocket-science is it??! Though this does seem to be a difficult one for anyone who says feminism is now defunct! The Bond analogy is great – for who’s more dominating and patriarchial??

But also take the points about the so-called “shy, good guy”. He has issues too and probably would blame women for his own past mistakes.

Not difficult: a guy with his own un-needy sense of self-worth, who is confident (but knows the difference between this and arrogance) and a guy who likes women. THAT’S who I go for!!

To me “bay-boy” = woman-hater!

Rachael // Posted 21 June 2008 at 8:41 am

PS: Just a thought pertaining to my last post on this subject about my ideal man liking women. Does anyone know of any dating sites for heterosexual people who are feminists?

I know….it sounds mad!! But have tried every permutation of “feminist” and “dating” in google and all I get is dating tips for women. Which is cool – but if there are no targeted websites for feminist women and men to meet and date, then my question would have to be……why not?? And perhaps even better – should we start one?

Anne Onne // Posted 21 June 2008 at 11:52 am

Well, first it depends on whether the ‘nice guy’ is actually a genuinely nice guy, or an entiteld whiner who expects women to sleep with him because he took them on a date, or listened to their problems, or did anything remotely decent. Because those kinds of ‘nice guys’ may be a bit less assertive than the ‘bad boys’, but they’re no less misogynist.

I don’t agree with the way they phrase everything, but the Heartless Bitches are the world authority on Nice Guys, who are just the kind of men who spread the myth that women are all drawn to abusive jerks, and don’t like decent men, when in fact the ‘decent men’ are just jerks with less self-confidence, but all of the entitlement. And that maybe not all the jerks are jerks. I mean, if you make it clear you want casual sex, and sleep with women who want casual sex, why is that ‘bad’? It’s far worse in my estimation to pretend you want to be a woman’s friend, and then resent her for not sleeping with you when you never gave any indication of wanting more than friendship or a chat.

There are plenty of men who never feature into this equation, who are decent, and somewhat interesting to be around, and don’t have a head the size of Antarctica, but they never seem to get a mention, because of the idea that men fit into two categories, those with a lot of women and those with none. Ergh.

Women are not possessions to judge male success by. We are also not a hive mind. Woman A might like confident bankers. Woman B might like quiet bookish types, woman C might like athletic men, woman D might like class clown types. The point is, we are all drawn to different things, and even to different personality traits in different men or women.

I wonder, does this all go back to whether the men in question are actually paying the women any attention? Because hypothetically at least, the arrogant seducer types are more likely to actually be spending time talking to women, and making it clear what they want. After all, if someone’s avoiding socialising, doesn’t talk much to potential sexual partners, and doesn’t make it clear they want casual sexual relationships, they’re not going to have as many, are they?

After all, how are women supposed to know the guy reading next to them is interested if he doesn’t make eye contact, and ignores you?

Personally, I’m not really into neither, but more towards the ‘nice guy’ (in the genuine sense) end of the scale. Really flashy guys set off my ‘arsehole radar’, probably because conversations with them end up with a lot of eye rolling. In theory, I’d want somebody in the middle. Whilst I’m not above starting conversations, I don’t like having to carry them entirely, so I like men who can engage in discussion. They don’t have to be confident, so long as they have something to say.

But clearly, I’m not psychic. And if women and men don’t articulate what they want out of relationships, they won’t get it. And that is not rocket science.

Cara // Posted 21 June 2008 at 12:59 pm

Agree that there is a happy medium.

Can I just say that *confidence* and *assertiveness* are attractive – NOT arrogance. There is a difference. Arrogant bullies with an overinflated ego are often concealing the fact that, deep down, they have low self-esteem – it’s just that the people who are clearly shy and lacking confidence are more obvious and don’t cover it up. I had one ex bf. who could do both. He thought he had to act like a “bad boy” to be a Man, sort of thing, but had big issues. Yeah. That was exhausting. People who really do like themselves and are confident in themselves don’t *have* anything to prove by acting like arrogant bullies, or being self-obsessed because they are sorted, so they can actually be interested in other people. That is the kind of guy I would go for.

However, I don’t think going into a bar alone makes someone a geek with no mates. The crossword guy might just be waiting for a friend, or maybe his friends are busy and he would rather not sit at home in front of the TV? If he had enough about him to look around occasionally, I would try to catch his eye, smile etc. and see if he started a conversation. If he had enough confidence to talk to a woman he doesn’t know, he’s not that shy.

Yeah, I also agree that many guys are attracted to mean women. The thing is that “you women, you all like bad boys!” is used by antifeminists as some sort of proof that feminism is redundant…you have equality ladies, but you still go for bad men! It must mean you secretly want to be dominated and dragged back to the cave by your hair! So it fits in perfectly with patriarchy. As Abby said, it may just mean the kind of girl who is attracted to those men isn’t interested in a serious relationship or hasn’t figured out what she wants yet. Which is fine. We all have to learn.

Rachael -YES! Let’s start a feminist dating site! I have been Internet dating…first, do I put the f-word in my profile and put off misogynist idiots, but also, risk putting off decent men who may be educate-able..or risk getting abusive messages…or not, and spend tedious dates with the kind of man who insists on holding doors open and pulling your chair out (eurgh). A whole other post, though…

Nina // Posted 21 June 2008 at 1:26 pm

This is a bit much for anyone to put up with. Whether you’re female or male you have to put up with this nonsense being written about you by a journalist who probably needs to reconsider their career plan when you just want a relationship/sex. I mean lord above, there’s nothing romantic about being prone to one night stands, it doesn’t make a man more attractive, it just means he has more sex. Women aren’t more attracted to men who have more sex, they just choose men they individually like. Surprise!

Mary // Posted 21 June 2008 at 8:48 pm

The Guardian presented this as “Why James Bond had success with women” as well. Because clearly, “succeeding” with me doesn’t mean being my friend for several decades, or having a lovely sexual and intellectually stimulating relationship with me where we barely stop laughing with each for three years running: it means shagging me. Yeah right!

There was a lovely piece of research a while ago which suggested that women slept with men on first dates if they didn’t care about them too much. And it was also completely recognisable: fit guy, kind of fun, bit self-obsessed and not very trustworthy? Yeah, why not sleep with him on the first date, what have you got to lose. Gentle man, really listens to you, makes you laugh, you can see a future together? Well, yeah, it would make sense to take things slowly because there’s real potential there, you don’t want to rush into anything and spoil it.

But of course, only men want casual sex and women are always trying to “keep” a man – it can’t possibly be that the “bad guys” have lots of short-term relationships because they can’t keep a woman interested for more than 48 hours!

Also, I ADORED the last paragraph of the New Scientist article:

“They still have to explain why it hasn’t spread to everyone,” says Matthew Keller of the University of Colorado in Boulder. “There must be some cost of the traits.” One possibility, both Keller and Jonason suggest, is that the strategy is most successful when dark triad personalities are rare. Otherwise, others would become more wary and guarded.

Imagine all these guys sitting around scratching their heads: “You know, these guys are total bastards, they shag loads of women but never have relationships with them, they’re self-obsessed and narcisstic, they never actually get to know women because they drop them as soon as they’ve shagged them and move onto the next one, they have hundreds of kids and never get to see any of them … but there must be a downside somewhere! What could it possibly be?!”

Jack Leland // Posted 21 June 2008 at 11:26 pm

I imagine someone would claim the feminist dating site wasn’t really feminist because it was a dating site, and that real feminists don’t date or use computers.

Lara The Second // Posted 22 June 2008 at 1:16 am

Jack Leland, you’re confusing feminists with the Amish.

Renee // Posted 22 June 2008 at 1:24 am

Okay I’m pipping in late in this conversation. I have had my share of opportunities with the bad guy type and I find them to be repellent. If someone is selfish it is safe to assume that they will be a selfish lover and I am not interested in spending the night helping someone else to work out there jones while I cross my fingers hoping I might yet achieve an orgasm.

Shea // Posted 22 June 2008 at 11:39 am

I agree with the above posters, its probably more to do with the “bad boy” making his attentions obvious. We women aren’t psychic, if there are no signals being given there is nothing to pick up on.

I think this is a great post and so true. Women who enjoy sex with multiple partners are seen as victims, with low self esteem or some such crap as though monogamy was the natural state for us, but men are allowed to be victors and heroes. Again the Daily Male try and shoehorn this myth that all a woman wants is a husband, children and a nest to feather. For some of us that couldn’t be further from the truth.

Shea // Posted 22 June 2008 at 1:54 pm

Also, can you imagine the outcry there would be if feminists used this logic? So there are women who are violent towards men, can you imagine us saying “well they exist because alot of men go for that type of woman so its *their* fault these types exist”? Classic!

Mary Tracy9 // Posted 22 June 2008 at 2:41 pm

I wholeheartedly support the Feminist Dating Site idea.

We could prove once and for all that the “nice guys” aren’t what they pretend to be.

Colin // Posted 22 June 2008 at 3:22 pm

As a pro-feminist man who’s had very little success in finding a girlfriend over the years (and who, incidentally, would welcome a feminist dating site with open arms!), I’ve long been intrigued (and often frustrated and saddened) by this debate.

I strongly suspect that confidence plays a big part in being attractive to a potential partner. Quiet, bookish blokes (or ones who have what might be termed ‘atypical’ interests and hobbies) tend to be derided by their more macho peers (& some women), which in turn knocks their confidence. Other factors (such as excess weight in my case) can further dent self-esteem.

Additionally, popular culture often pushes the notion that pro-feminist men are somehow drippy and unattractive (remember the plethora of stuff in the mid-90’s about how the ‘New Lad’ was supposedly much more alluring than the ‘New Man’?)

Incidentally, I am often to be seen doing crosswords in pubs…but usually when I’m waiting for friends to arrive!

Qubit // Posted 22 June 2008 at 3:46 pm

I think there is a degree of preception in here too. If the self confident guy came and talked to you the chances are making an excuse and leaving would not be easy.

You could look to the shyer guy for help but he’d probably interpret that as a statement of you being interested in the self confident guy and showing off to him.

In the end the chances are in that situation which ever guy you preferred both men would get the impression you preferred the self confident guy and would then use it as proof women prefer bastards.

m Andrea // Posted 22 June 2008 at 8:03 pm

Because sadists attract masochists.

Because genuinely nice people attract genuinely nice people.

Because almost everybody prefers to avoid thinking painful thoughts, and the ultimate bad thought is that men are never gonna stop this shit.

Jack Leland // Posted 22 June 2008 at 9:05 pm


It was a joke. And if you think that no feminist would criticize the feminist dating site and accuse feminists who used it of being sell-outs, you apparently don’t know very much about feminism. Jessica Valenti got ripped as “not a true feminist” by other feminists for publishing a book about feminism with a picture of a woman’s torso on the front cover.

Jack Leland // Posted 22 June 2008 at 9:12 pm

And, yes, I think the Feminist Dating Site is a great idea.

Legible Susan // Posted 22 June 2008 at 10:44 pm

Jack Leland,

It wasn’t because there was “a picture of a woman’s torso on the front cover”, it was because there was a picture of a white woman’s torso on the front cover. Actually it’s more complicated than that:

Some of the way the book’s presentation was like, This is for modern women, and the rest of it was like, This is for young white women with some financial resources and leisure time. The cover image was taken as evidence that the book was erasing the existence of women of colour, again. (I gather that the contents are not so exclusive, but the controversy happened when most people had only seen the cover and publicity.)

The key to people’s objections is representation and whose voice gets heard and whose doesn’t, and the way the media act like only a certain demographic matters (whether that was the author’s intention or not), not whether you can show naked torsos on the cover. There are lots of related issues, but this comment’s long enough already.

Lara The Second // Posted 23 June 2008 at 1:09 am

Jack Leland,

I know it was meant to be a joke. All feminists are not the same. We know this. You are not required to point it out!

Seph // Posted 23 June 2008 at 1:50 am


Once again scientists seem to be under the impression that all women are interchangable and have exactly the same likes and dislikes.

Rachael // Posted 23 June 2008 at 10:05 am

Thanks to everyone who commented on my feminist dating site idea. Yes -it’s true…..feminists can like sex!! Put THAT in the Daily Male!! I have only just started to work online so am a bit of a novice – so please – if any of you would seriously like to partner me in this – I would be very happy to hear from you!

Please let me know here and hopefully we could get going. I am just tired of the standard dating sites for many of the reasons mentioned above, ie: sexist men in “nice guys” clothing, arrogant men who seem really cool online, etc.

So please – if anyone is interested, do let me know and we’ll start to share ideas!! Take care everyone.

George // Posted 23 June 2008 at 3:12 pm

“I thought the conclusions the researchers drew from their findings were questionable. The study was all about the behaviour of men with certain personality traits, not women’s reaction to them, and as such it says far more about men that it does about women.”

Fran, exactly – there is no evidence to suggest that these traits actually cause men to be universally sexually attractive to women. Isn’t it just as likely that they have more short romantic encounters because the women they are with realise that they are not worth the time or commitment?

I, for one, stopped being attracted to any self-obsessed or heartless men after discovering that ‘being used’ can mean something much more sinister than a pretend game.

Now I just become rapidly bored by someone like that – if I were in the hypothetical situation above, I would just think, “Sod this!” and go and read the paper in the corner as well.

Adam Hunt // Posted 23 June 2008 at 3:46 pm

From my perspective I’d argue that women don’t love bad boys.. They love the confidence, the way they have strong unshakable beliefs about themselves and pursue what they want.. If ‘nice guys’ had these qualities they would have the same options.

The reality of the situation is that most women – probably most ‘feminists’ to – want the man to take control and make them feel desired..

Saying that they wouldn’t prefer the nice guy is silly because I can bet that even feminist strong independent women don’t actually approach the ‘nice guy’ to find out if they have all the negative qualities they judgementally assign to him.. If you sit around waiting for people to come and talk to you, you are accepting that you will have limited options. Accepting the fact that this is true almost universally, saying that it’s the women who are ‘using’ men is clearly wrong given that the women aren’t actually choosing whether the men approach or not. Women accept or deny, they don’t choose per se.. Their selection may well be the best of a bad bunch – the guys who approached – and they might have a better time of relationships if they actually did make more real choices..

Approaching the hot guy in the bar who looks ‘nice’ might be scary but if it was me I’d rather that than sitting around waiting to be used like a sex toy by a serial seducer. Why not try a few approaches yourselves, you may find you have a new level of respect for the men that make attempts to talk to you. If it doesn’t work out you still have the option of sitting around waiting to be approached.

Lizzie // Posted 23 June 2008 at 8:12 pm

This is ridiculous.

I completely agree that the survey lacks statistical merit and is non-sensical in the findings it drew. The idea of women pursuing their own sexual gratification was, of course, ignored.

To me, the ‘bad boy’ is a realisation of modern day patriarchy. Encompassing everything ‘masculine’ he is one of the remaining tools left to anti-feminists to discredit the movement. The apparent success of ‘the bad boy’ clearly demonstrates that we don’t really want to be independent and in control. Oh no, feminism was a farce! What we really want is a dominant male to use us, lose us and put us firmly in our place.

No wonder the Daily Male loved it.

Adam Hunt // Posted 24 June 2008 at 5:37 pm

I don’t see any evidence of feminist women taking control when it comes to dating at all.. Are you honestly saying that you have and if so can you tell people what you’ve actually done..?

Shea // Posted 24 June 2008 at 6:37 pm

Oh Adam, so much to learn….;-). I met my husband by sending a glass of cuevo and a cigar over to his table. We got chatting and the rest as they say is history. I also chased him by flying back halfway across the world to propose to him, rather than waiting for him to do so. In his culture that is a very rare thing, but I think I had already established I wasn’t a woman who messes around.

Qubit // Posted 24 June 2008 at 7:50 pm

I have asked people out and most of my relationships began that way. However I don’t do it to be feminist, I do it because I wanted to go out with the guys I asked out. I guess it is a feminist thing to do but I think it is an individual choice.

Adam Hunt // Posted 26 June 2008 at 6:09 pm

Cool.. Glad to hear that.! Now all you have to do is persuade the others to get the courage to do the same.. :)

hh // Posted 7 July 2008 at 6:56 am

To be honest, I wouldn’t have expected this amount of honesty about attraction on a feminist website. I think attraction is the most important part of gendered interaction, and usuallly completely overlooked in a discourse overly focused on constructing gendered power differentials while ignoring the most important area of gendered behaviour.

That said, I’d like to comment on a couple of questions/statements in the text above:

“Why is it the woman always has to be positioned as the used, and the man as the user? … we are repeatedly denied our fantasies and sexual desires by the popular press means that it still remains unacceptable for us to actively pursue them.”

This is not true in my understanding. In human mating, women aren’t the only choosers, but the most important choosers. I think, if anything, there is a male understanding of this (“get lucky”) that possibly leads to need to culturally reassert the myth that we have actually something to say in the process. Remember Coupling anyone? When Steve and Susan are on their first private date they talk about “the one thing the woman always knows and the man never knows, and that makes him nervous.”

“This is nothing more than speculation, and why is it that everything scientists endeavour to investigate regarding male-female relationships has to be entwined with a woman’s fertility and her allegedly inherent desire to procreate?”

Well, because sexual selection has turned us into what we are today. If we have the ability to be influenced by culture, it’s because our ancestors mutually selected each other for traits that allowed our brain this kind of flexibility. Sexual selection is the only reason why there are two (main) kinds of humans. The thing is though, there’s by definition no way to be aware of evolution – it’s an intergenerational process. We are who we are, we choose what we choose for whatever reasons we think we do it.

As for nice guys and bad boys. I think what mostly attracts women in men is confidence. Not arrogance. But a confidence that only comes with previous success with women and accordingly can serve as an indicator of preselection. Success with women also implies a certain indifference to a specific interaction, unless it takes on emotional importance, which will probably not happen immediately, precisely due to the amount of experience. So here’s the thing: Is a Don Juan necessarily a bad boy? Or is he a good boy who has the ability to make women happy while they’re with him?

The reality is a lot more complex than the nice guy and bad boy dichotomy is suggesting – women and men are more complex than that. There clearly is something to the “nice guy” theme, as I suppose we can all tell stories about nice guys who got neither one night stands nor relationships. There is something about sexual relationships some men don’t seem to understand – for whichever reason. And I suggest that things are more complicated for them today, as the social mediation covering their dificulties in gendered interactions have gone, while most women still expect the men to begin the interaction.

Seriously, about a week ago, a woman complained to me about a friend of mine who just would not come over after they had looked at each other for two hours. But when I wondered why she didn’t come over, she said that’s not her job. Fair enough. Having the confidence to say “hello” is probably not a good indicator for the decision whether to have babies together, but it may work as an indicator of the basic level of confidence that women seem to require before they develop sexual interest.

As far as a “feminist dating site” is concerned – I’d probably have to think too much of Andrea Dworkin to be interested in women who choose to advertise this particular part of their personality to a high degree. I mean, I somehow would expect women to be feminist to a degree, but as the label can mean so much, including things once written by Andrea Dworkin, I would be weary and a little confused by such a website.

What I think feminists should do in this respect is develop a more positive discourse of male sexuality, one not rooted in violence and the desire to oppress women but instead in the creation of mutual pleasure. Seriously. That’s overdue. And then find a nice guy with a crossword puzzle and tell him that feminism did not mean “respect women so much you don’t even talk to them”, as famously put by Steve Carrell in the “40 year old virgin”. Tell him that’s he needs to be comfortable with his own desires to communicate them appropriately.

That would be quite an evolution ;).

Onder // Posted 7 December 2008 at 11:52 pm

Maybe last guys might not finish last but it seems judging by what i read, women want to “have their cake and eat it”… They claim they want to fulfill their sexual desires by getting laid, yet want to find a secure, kind man who they can treat as doormats and follow their beck and call as they see fit…

I’m sorry but personally, me being a nice guy, the fact that i don’t sleep around, and focus on being the best person i can become so that i become the rare diamond they people cant duct off or take for granted… I expect the girl i end up with to be exactly the same, else i ain’t interested… Nice guys don’t want sloppy seconds… They want pure, decent girls… Supply and demand…

That’s my take…

sabine spradlin // Posted 15 February 2009 at 6:37 pm

i love bad boys i have one as a friend and he asks me to fuck him all the time and i say,”yes!!! I would love to but u better stay a bad boy for me!!!!” now we are dating and we still fuck

abby // Posted 15 July 2009 at 3:03 pm

Sometimes bad boys are the only choice until something else lands in your sphere. I have dated guys who were nice but who didn’t keep up the nice act.I guess they weren’t real. I married a nice guy he treated was ok but ignored me alot treated me like furniture spent more time with his friends etc. I wasn’t much interested either he wasn’t as interesting and adventurous as he had let on. I always avoided bad boys hating them for exploiting women until I got involved with the worst one of all. And it felt like the first relationship where I knew what to do. He made me feel desired, loved, happy angry too. He was the most honest of the men not lying about how horrible he was. The thing nice guys aren’t exactly being honest about wanting a sexual relationship or their flaws. You think you know them but you don’t. I’ve dated nice guys for a decade and they’re the ones that caused the most pain.

Paul // Posted 11 June 2010 at 6:31 pm

So-called nice guys don’t have the option of being honest. Not with women, and not with themselves. That takes self-confidence, and they haven’t earned the right to it.

So sad that the one thing they need most – earning that self-confidence – requires that they give up the one thing they feel they need most – the need to be validated by others.

No wonder it’s a life sentence for many men – until you’re through it, the cure usually hurts worse than the disease.

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