Modern American feminists often talk about “niceguys” and their sense of entitlement. I was curious why they think “niceguys” are feeling entitled, and looked into a book called “Yes means yes”, edited by Jessica Valenti and Jaclyn Friedman. It always confused me why wanting sex or love really badly was considered to be an entitled attitude.
The root of hostility
First, I will say something about how this book views sex. Feminists criticize what they call the commodity model of sex. It is an understanding that sex is something women have, and men can earn, buy, or even steal/trick women out of. Nevermind that it’s a biological fact, they don’t like it, because they think it supports rape culture. The author of the essay, Thomas Macauley Millar, suggests we replace the commodity model of sex with the performance model of sex. That means thinking about sex like you think about playing music with other people, or dancing – just a fun time with someone, where you create something beautiful. He thinks commodity model is adversarial. He says the performance model would never create such nasty things as lack of respect for promiscuous women, because if sex was like playing music, the more you perform, the better you get, and the MORE valuable your performances become. The thought is nice, but only realistic with people you are very close to, and know well. On a grand scale, trying to replace the commodity model with the performance model is like being a scientist, and saying:
“Hey, guys, I don’t like the “possible massive destruction” model of movements of ocean water. It’s too oppressive and adversarial. Why won’t we replace it with the “always calm, helpful and pleasant” model?”
So, what is a sense of entitlement?
An entitlement is a right. A sense of entitlement is therefore a sense of having a right to something. Some websites also say that having a sense of entitlement means thinking you deserve something, but I’m not sure I want to mix those two up. They are totally different things! I might feel I deserve to be loved, but I don’t feel I have a right to it. However, I have a right to pursue love, and try to get it.
Is it bad?
The feeling of deserving comes from the realization that I’m actually a good person who is good at loving, so there is no reason why I don’t deserve to be loved. The feeling of having a right comes from the realization that I’m a person, and all persons should have certain inalienable rights, like in the constitution. Any special rights are allowances, given by the government. So I don’t actually see these following things as bad:
1) Having a feeling that you have a right to live, be free, and pursue happiness, as long as it doesn’t mess with other people’s rights.
2) Having a feeling that you’re a good person who deserves to be loved. This is just called having a good self-esteem, and is not problematic as long as you realize it’s only useful in the realm of self-esteem.
However, it IS bad to actually have a sense of entitlement to things you have no right to just take. It’s delusional and sounds like a mental illness, making a person unable to function in society adequately.
Who has it?
Some people imply rapists rape because of sense of entitlement. But that is not necessarily true. A robber or a rapist might not think they have a right to that property or sex, they know what they are doing is wrong, but they do it anyway. They don’t even have to feel they deserve it, but they want to have it.
And of course, nice guys. Thomas Macauley Millar writes that nice guys have a view of their own entitlement, described as:
“Their entire worldview depends on the commodity model, and on a corollary view of their own entitlement: that there must be some “proper” way for them to act and “get” sex; that if they do all the “right” things, they will unlock the lock and get laid”.
“..the NiceGuy expresses clearly the undercurrent of the entitlement that runs through the culture. Men generally are constructed as the pursuers of sex, and taught that their proper pursuit will be rewarded. What straight men really need to learn is that women are humans, too, who get to make their own decisions about whether and with whom to have sex; and that nobody owes anyone sex”
Let’s compare. Are these two the same?
a) Feeling you have a right to get something.
b) Trying to earn something, finding nothing objectively wrong with your methods, and being frustrated that you aren’t getting it. Having specific expectations based on what they were taught as a child and teenager.
I think it doesn’t take a lot of brainpower to see that they are not the same. One requires you to demand something unconditionally, the other to work for it. One makes a person frustrated because their supposed rights are not working out. The other makes a person frustrated because they keep trying according to the rules given to them (the only way they know!), and it’s not working out. Is really really wanting love/sex, and thinking you are actually a good person who deserves them, and trying to get them, entitled? I think not – entitled people don’t think they have to try. If that was the definition of entitlement, anyone with goals would be considered a narcissist. Does someone deserve hate, if they try to give women what they think they want (based on recommendations of women themselves, as well as parents), but it never works out, and they are confused and frustrated? No.
Also, the quote reveals that the mere act of trying to get sex and love is viewed as sexist and offensive. It means you view women as objects, rather than people who are “human, too, and get to make their own decisions”. What feminists don’t like is the commodity model of sex, which is the idea that sex is a good that women have and men can earn, buy or take some other way. Using language where you indicate you “want to get sex”, earn it somehow, reveals that you view sex as a commodity, which makes you a supporter of rape culture. You want to give something, and get sex in return. Of course, there is nothing evil about it, as we ALL want something from other people, be it cooperation, reciprocal kind treatment or friendship. No one ever makes a big deal about THAT. We all know that wanting something from someone doesn’t mean they owe it to you, or that they shouldn’t make their own decisions.
So if someone wishes to prove that niceguys are all entitled jerks, they need better arguments. Some people do act and talk entitled, and you often don’t have to look hard for evidence. For example, in the same book, another writer insists that women have a right to good sex and sexual power:
“The goal of Yes Means Yes is to explore… how the cultures and systems that support rape in the United States rob us of our right to sexual power..”
“That’s what the essays in this book do. They encourage you to say yes to yourself, yes to your desires, and yes to the idea that you have a right to a joyful sex life..”
It’s words like these, as well as feminist expansion of rape law, which makes me think they are the true entitled ones. Right to joyful sex life means, in practice, jailing men who fail to satisfy.
P.S: I still don’t understand how commodity model of sex leads to rape culture, but I will tell you, once I find out 😉