Re: Nice Guys

by Carol Iannone

At all of the weddings I’ve ever attended since I started paying attention, the grooms have always been what we would call nice guys, and certainly not given to “aloof quasi-jerkish behavior.” But we need some explanation for the persistence of the idea that women are attracted to men who exhibit such behavior. Such attractions have always existed but seem more prevalent of late, and that I attribute to feminism. Nice guys, being nice, defer to conventional wisdom on women, and that wisdom today is unfortunately feminist. So they allow their masculinity to be siphoned off. Females may be attracted the aloof quasi-jerkish behavior because they are grateful for some scrap of masculine assertiveness which can help define their femininity, and also for the lack of reverence toward feminist pieties.

Another aspect of this phenomenon is that when we adhered more to traditional moral standards, if confronted by male jerk-like behavior and females being attracted to it, we would term such behavior and such attraction simply immature, and say that such individuals had “a lot of growing up to do.” Whereas now, because of evolutionary biology, we are pushed to reify such behaviors, to take them seriously as some kind of biological or anthropological truth about our human nature as it evolved through the eons of so-called sexual selection. Be that as it may, this is one instance in which we can clearly see the standoff between a traditional view of man and one based on Darwin.

Darwinians try to have things both ways — promulgating the idea of this ruthless sexual selection and yet also allowing for altruistic motives, since such are obviously operative in human beings. But it really doesn’t wash. If the quasi-jerks get to sleep with more females and spread their genes, that is the ultimate in Darwinian terms. The idea that there would be any evolutionary plus for humans to raise a couple of offspring over 20 years, deliberately foregoing other opportunities to spread their genes, is something being imposed on the theory, and derives not from any science but, like almost everything in evolutionary biology, on the observed behavior of many human beings today. Darwinians would be more helpful if they would say that their theory can explain human behavior only so far, and for the rest they speculate.

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