Nice Guys Never Finish

| October 3, 2017 | 0 Comments

Have you heard that “nice guys finish last”?

Of course you have. Barring living under a cliché shield, everyone has heard those four haunting words in popular media or sprinkled atop the vernacular of their everyday lives. Those four words have spent years threatening us away from the simple goodness of being the nice guy.

Over the past few weeks, as I reflect on the unfortunate series of events that has been my life up to this point, I realize that if I were anything, I would be a very nice guy.

I am the archetypal guy who holds open the doors for literally everyone, and I don’t get mad when they walk through them without a second glance. I’m the trope who will apologize to you when you ram into me on your way to somewhere or someone better.

Yet I reject the sentiment that, while I am, without question, that guy, I will finish last in this crazy thing we call life. I want nothing more than to turn all of the assertions in that phrase on their heads so we can see the demonic underbelly that holds up the fable.

First of all… To accompany the feminist agenda I’ve promoted since exiting the womb and discovered this weird thing called gender, I’d really appreciate if we dismantled this “guy” nonsense to start with because honestly the root of this issue, and all issues, is the patriarchy.  There is no way that  “nice guys” refers specifically to those we’ve labeled male.  We’re probably inadvertently referencing the Freudian ideal that all women want to be men and ignoring the concept that nice ladies ALSO finish last.

With the sentiment that nice guys finish last, we’re also making the determination that regardless of aptitude and skill, a nice guy lacks the character traits that we attach to positive masculinity. Nice guys would not subscribe to the rhetoric around rejecting strong interpersonal relationships, love, introspection, conflict resolution (without guns), conversation, art, poetry, basically the things that make life… nice.  “Nice guys finish last” is the product of hegemonic maleness that sees “nice” things as the kryptonite of a society, which values physical strength over wellness and individual power over community. So yes, in a  world where nice things, nice feelings, and general niceness is an illness that needs resolution for “guys,” I can understand why those who have been diagnosed as suffering from being nice have been ostracized from the winner narrative.

Yet that sentiment comes from the mouth that has labeled nice the deviant. What does the nice guy, the good boy, the sweet man have to say about himself? Does he feel like he finished last?

That question, and its unsought answer,  leads to my next lifelong quarrel with “nice guys finish last.” It’s the same problem I have with the women’s narrative of “having it all.” Who determines what “last” looks like? I’m ceratin that last looks a lot different to the nice guy than it does to his opponent. Think about it, in what reality are nice guys and their opposites ever signed up for the same metaphysical race?

What do nice guys want? Yes, a plethora of different things, I’m sure. As one nice guy, I’d like the end of institutional racism,  some gender equity, sprinkle on a bit of educational access of all of the people, the end mass incarceration, a slice in a single-payer healthcare system,  and top it all off with a quiet life sipping tea while reading copious amounts of books about copious amounts of things, and being surrounded by encouraging, loving, fellow nice-guys for as long as I live.

There are definitely nice guys who want different things, I’m sure. Not all nice guys are as boring as I am, I’m positive.

However, I’d bet my life that our not-nice guys have no interest in working toward the same interests as our nice-guy team. To be quite honest, I’m positive that nice guys aren’t entered in any metaphorical races at all, because when on earth do the goals of the nice have anything to do with “winning” in the traditional sense at all?

You can say that nice guys finish last, but in a race to power, riches, or infamy, most nice guys wouldn’t event want the 9th place participation medal.

Even if nice guys did participate in the same contest as their opponents on the dark side and they did indeed finish last, would they mind?

Because when nice guys finish last, they finish nice and that is the greatest prize in the world for the nice guys.


photo credit: familymwr All-Army runners take top trophy from Brazilians at 26th Army Ten-Miler via photon (license)

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Category: featured, Philosophy and Religion, Reflections, The (Sex)es

Monique Atkinson

About the Author ()

Moe is a senior studying Journalism and Sociology. If you're looking closely you can find her rereading anything by Oscar Wilde in a coffee shop, avoiding trains on Commonwealth Ave, or napping... pretty much anywhere.

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