No more Mr. Nice Guy

According to some feminist researchers, nice guys apparently do finish last, and women who actually welcome being treated with kindness, respect and dignity are right there with them at the bottom of the relationship barrel. Truly, we have fallen down the rabbit hole.

You can’t make this stuff up. It’s called “benevolent sexism,” and it is part of study released in March that claims women have no problem with men treating them as “helpless entities in need of protection.” The study was conducted by Jin X. Goh and Judith A. Hall of Northeastern University’s Department of Psychology in Boston and published in the journal Sex Roles. It defines “benevolent sexism” as the “chivalrous belief that women are warm yet incompetent.”

“Benevolent sexism asserts men’s power through paternalistic affection rather than dominance, and these affectionate behaviors may be insidious because they are not necessarily negative on the surface,” the study states.

Basically, the study is telling women that we can’t just accept simple and proper etiquette from men, because deep down this is a sign that they may really be male chauvinists in disguise; a nasty, no-good wolf in sheep’s clothing ready to take advantage of us. That’s right, ladies, men such as our husbands, co-workers or even — heaven forbid — strangers opening the door for us or helping us put groceries in the trunk are probably nothing but bad news. Who knew? While it could just be a matter of common courtesy, the study went on to claim that women who actually appreciate the gestures are only helping to keep themselves and the rest of the female population down if they don’t become at least somewhat suspect of actions that were once thought of as common courtesies or simply the behaviors of decent human beings.

“For instance, opening a car door for a woman may reflect simple politeness that would be extended to anyone; however, it could also reflect benevolent sexist attitudes if the man does it because of his assumption that men are more competent than women and that women should be pampered or protected by men.”

Sometimes, I feel like doing my own version of that famous scene from the movie “Network,” compliments of frustrated anchorman Howard Beale; “I am mad as hell, and I’m not going to take it anymore!”

As a woman who travels several times a month, no one is more grateful to receive help from someone — anyone, regardless of their sex — as I am struggling to place yet one more carry-on in the overhead luggage compartment on a very crowed plane. Call me crazy, but I am still going to accept, with much gratitude, such help. And I am mad that women are telling other women like me to waste their precious time and energy wondering whether our husbands have ulterior motives when all they are doing is throwing in a load of laundry or taking out the garbage.

Although the report didn’t make this conclusion, I don’t think it is too much of a leap to say that these researchers are probably fine with the Christian Greys of the world but can’t stand the Clay Walsh types. Walsh is the main character in recently released film “Old Fashioned.” He’s the quiet, reflective, respectful type of guy who wants to go back to the old-fashioned idea of courting when he meets that someone special. The nerve of him! Clay is out to get us, but the sadistic and abusive Christian Grey types (from the infamous “Fifty Shades of Grey” books and film) are Mr. Wonderfuls. And we wonder why men and women are so confused.

Teresa Tomeo is the host of “Catholic Connection,” produced by Ave Maria Radio and heard daily on EWTN Global Catholic Radio and Sirius Channel 130.