Chick Literal You Are Not Nick Miller Andrea Greb

Dear Male Friends,

You are not Nick Miller.  Actually, you sort of are, and that’s kind of the problem.

Oh, Nick Miller. The loveable everyman.  George Costanza for a new generation.  Not overwhelmingly handsome, not ambitious career-wise, but still maintains an interesting set of friends and inexplicably has beautiful women throwing themselves at him regularly.  And this, now, is what guys aspire to be.  Unaspirational, but with cool friends and lots of ladies.

Fading is the narrative of the ‘unlucky in love, tries so hard and never gets it right, occasionally ditzy and floozy’ woman waiting for an older, richer, wiser man to save her from herself and give her the happy relationship she so desperately wants.  And even in this narrative, at least on TV, the woman in question typically has her career at least somewhat together (Meredith Grey, Mindy Lahiri, Carrie Bradshaw, and the Katherine Heigl character in all movies, I’m looking at you).  Sure, these women sometimes compromise themselves for men, but at least they’re real, grown up, have their life together men, which makes them sort of worth compromising for.

Not anymore. Gone are the days of tall, dark, handsome men with money and power.  Welcome to the new age, where we’re left with the anti-hero, the man-boy who spends his time watching TV or playing video games and waxing emo about how hard his incredibly priveleged life is, and never doing a thing about it.  How did we get here?

Is it possible that there’s only room for a finite amount of adulthood in our society, and we ladies have taken it over?  While I often struggle to remember that my life isn’t a fairy tale, I’m also fighting against literally hundreds of years of stories, and also real life narratives, saying that women were damsels in distress, meant to sit back and wait for men to handle things.  As recently as the last century, women didn’t have the right to vote.  Now we’re voting, we’re running for office, we’re fillibustering, we’re leaning in, we’re running companies.  We’re buying houses in record numbers.  We may still earn 77 cents on the dollar, but otherwise, ladies, we’re kind of killing it.

And then there’s men.  Rather than welcoming us with open arms into the ‘people who can do stuff’ club, the ones in power are trying to take away our rights to our bodies and shove us back into the kitchens where they think we belong.  And the ones not in power seem to be sitting back and doing nothing.  The damsel in distress narrative has been flipped on its head, except that men aren’t looking for a night in shining armor to save them from a dragon, they’re looking for a manic pixie dream girl in a sundress to save them from themselves.

I hate to generalize, and I know there are exceptions.  And yet I worry.  When my dad was 30, he and his friends were by and large married, with houses and families and careers.  Most of the guys I know are at 30 or rapidly approaching it, and are nowhere near those milestones; they live with roommates or in their bachelor pads, rarely even bothering to date, whining about the girls that got away due to their own mistakes, and waiting for life to drop success and the perfect woman that they believe they deserve into their lap without being willing in any way to work for it.  I know times are different; I know the economy is crap.  I’m also pretty certain that no one ever met a girl or scored their dream job while sitting around on their couch, drinking beer and playing Halo (do guys still play that? I don’t even know).

I know there are exceptions to this, but at least in my life, my female friends are out there tearing it up at work and in life, and my male friends are whining about how hard it is to win whatever iPhone game they’re playing this week.  I might be a Liz Lemon, but I certainly would rather end up with a Jack Donaghy than a Criss Chros, and I’m worried the former is a dying breed.

I understand that we don’t all want to be CEO of GE; that some guys do want to be stay at home dads or run food trucks, and that’s fine.  Or at least that’s fine if it’s what you want and you’re happy doing it.  My issue is that so many of my male friends who are stuck in their ruts claim to be happy, but don’t really seem it.  Because admitting unhappiness might mean having to do something about it, and, you know, doing stuff is the worst.  (It’s not, actually.  I love doing stuff.)

Newsflash, menfolk (and lazy ladyfolk, too):  you do not deserve a perfect life.  It is not on its way and you just have to wait it out.  Your life is something you have to build, you have to actually work at.  Do you hate being single?  Sure, you might get lucky and suddenly an amazing new girl shows up at work…or you might actually have to spend some time creating a decent online dating profile and sending thoughtful messages and talking to strangers even though they might reject you.  Most of them probably will.  But eventually one of them won’t.  Are you frustrated with your job?  Then please stop ‘working on your screenplay’ unless you’re actually a good writer and actually serious about it.  Figure out what you love to do (that isn’t watching TV) and find someone who will pay you to do it.  Or figure out how to love what you’re already getting paid to do.

Are these things hard?  Totally.  They are also very, very worth doing.  I won’t lie, I don’t have all the answers and I certainly don’t have my life entirely figured out yet, but I do know that New Girl is what I watch when I want a distraction from the stresses of the life I’m trying to build, not something I actively want to pattern my life after.

XOXO,

Andrea

P.S.  Full disclosure:  I’ve only seen season one of New Girl.  If Nick totally gets his act together in Season Two, then I apologize for blaming the problems of the men of my generation on him.

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  1. A very rad and intelligent friend of mine posted this to her FB and, while I’ve never visited this site prior to, I felt compelled to contribute as I was – and still am – genuinely concerned with the mass consensus.

    This is a topic that should be discussed at incredible length, so while this may run a tad long, the issue certainly warrants better treatment than I provide it.

    At the core of this idea is the oft-overlooked significant difference between the processes of attaining either womanhood or manhood.

    Ladies, you don’t get a choice really, nature tends to let everyone know when you’ve reached womanhood. You might still act like a child at times, recognized quickly within your own circles, but society is quicker to recognize you as a woman and to support you as such with all the might of the women’s rights/gender equality socio-political machine, in spite of any lagging mental/behavioral maturity. This is not a bad thing. However, as much as men have often demonstrated a distinct difficulty in understanding the process of blossoming womanhood, so too do you struggle to comprehend our quest for manhood. And a quest it is!

    Nature doesn’t grant manhood to the modern civilized man; if it did, we’d all be “men” from the time our voices and dude-bits dropped (still the case in some agriculturally and tribally-oriented societies). Since that’s not the case in places like NYC-LA-SF-ATL-modern America-etc., recognition of manhood must be derived from somewhere else – and so it is.

    Stealing from, yet absolutely crediting, Mark Manson’s article “A New Masculinity (http://markmanson.net/a-new-masculinity), sociologist Camille Paglia expressed the general nature of manhood quite well positing that “A woman simply is, but a man must become. Masculinity is risky and elusive. It is achieved by a revolt from woman, and it is confirmed only by other men.” Not to be argumentative, but that means women do not get to define masculinity or manhood. I know some of you would love to but you don’t. Feel free to continue blogging and ruminating on the preferred qualities you desire in “your” man. That’s absolutely fine. Simply realize that all of that buzzing has zero bearing on the reality of the definition of manhood, just as all our buzzing about what we desire in women has zero impact on what you define as womanhood.

    The difficulties you see the men around you struggling with stem from a very deep and pervasive sense of confusion in our society. At the heart of it lie freedom and restriction.

    The inequality of days of yore wasn’t only one-sided, though I readily admit how it can appear so from the perspective of those who were heavily-suppressed. Men were, in our own ways, restricted in what kind of life we could live as well; most specifically, in the spheres of emotion and purpose. Am I saying we suffered comparably? Not hardly. But understanding this sets the stage for realizing that social change doesn’t occur in a vacuum; the success of women’s progress is not an isolated result – there are consequences (I know that sounds pejorative but please bear with me).

    The common misconception, among many very intelligent women I’ve met, is that men are afraid that in opening up the world of opportunity to women we close it off to ourselves in some ways. This is not wholly true; though some men inevitably feel this way, the problems you’re seeing don’t stem from this perspective. They instead arose from the opposite realization – the recognition that in opening the world of opportunity to women, we also opened it to men. Men were now free of the responsibilities of the breadwinner, free of the provider pigeonhole, free to weave baskets, dance, stay home, pursue traditionally non-masculine avenues if so desired, and we were superbly ill-equipped to do anything with that fact.

    Whereas the push and the drive to expand women’s horizons came from within your gender, it comes to us from others, externally. Within our own gender we are still restricted by social perception. We are not free to pursue whatever life we choose and we are not culturally educated in how to go about doing that even if that freedom existed.

    Regarding the attainment of manhood, modern society is operating 1/3 out of the old standard, 1/3 under a new standard still very much so “under construction”, and 1/3 from utter “wtf” confusion. Yet everyday men read more and more about how we can’t get ourselves together, how we’re screwing it all up.

    Ladies, please, we’re working on it I promise.

    But also, please realize you have an entire generation of modern men bred and encouraged to be somewhat emasculated (by traditional definition), raised on the entitlement of the “Participation Ribbon” and “Everyone a Winner” age, struggling to define their place in a broader more available world that every day weighs personal responsibility more heavily (a good thing). At the same time, they’re being hounded in every conceivable media outlet (to include institutionalized academia) by nearly the entire species for not being quick enough on the uptake.

    There is an existential frustration in the modern male community that you don’t understand and it manifests itself not only in the myriad attempts we make to simultaneously define ourselves and yet be desirable to you (from metro to beefcake to hipster to successful all-around prince charming), but especially in the existential malaise of the “Nick Millers”. One day we’re supposed to be business giants and the next daddy day care; the stalwart protectors of women then their compassionate equals – sometimes too many choices can be paralyzing. While this flexibility comes more easily to an established community of increasingly empowered women, look back to the early days at the turn of the century. See the internal difficulties through which you persevered and realize that THAT is where WE are. We are not yet remotely united in embracing what some have termed the “post-masculine” world; those are now our internal struggles.

    I make no claim to absolve truly lazy men-children of their missteps and the failures of “guy culture”, but realize the current terrain is treacherous for all of us. We successful few who are navigating decently are largely lucky in our fate. And again, I promise, we’ll figure it out, but we need you to tone down the criticism a bit and turn up the support a notch (we know you’re very good at that), because we can’t have these difficult discussions on what we want FOR ourselves if we can only ever hear what everyone else wants FROM us.

    PS. I don’t presume that the quest for manhood is any more difficult than the trials of womanhood. However, modern society is far more likely to recognize and support a woman in her achievement – regardless of the ongoing struggle she experiences on an individual level to come to terms with that womanhood – than it is to recognize and support the manhood of the struggling quester. As evidenced by the widespread use of the “Nick Miller” archetype as acceptable comedic relief.

  2. I totally agree!

    I hate to say it, but it appears as though our generation of males makes absolutely no effort in anything and expects everything.

    Gen Y – generation of male losers.

    No money to move out of home, yet spend it on coke.
    Completely unhappy about their job/or lack thereof, yet spend all of their time playing FIFA.
    Have no independence and pretty much search for a woman who will take care of them and lead them forward. And don’t dare ask them to change a lightbulb!

    This is why I sometimes wish that aliens will finally come to our planet (or come back depending on what you believe) and give us another option to choose from.

  3. Great article!

  4. My father and his father and many of my friends fathers were acting on culture based obligation. So they had children, wives and good jobs and honestly many were still “Nick Miller” when they came home. And when I talk to those people who were married and mortgaged in their 30′s they speak of resentment, regret and remorse. Lots of “if I could do it again” and “I wish I had waited until my late 30′s or early 40′s”.

    Besides since women have changed, as the author said, then maybe what some of us want in a man has changed too. In my oh so humble opinion, Nick Miller may be a slacker but Jack Donaghy was often a soulless bleep-hole. I’d personally rather spend the rest of my life slacking off and playing True American with a sincerely sweet but unmotivated guy than be in a proper adult relationship. For some, the former is indeed happiness. Hard to accept (apparently) but that doesn’t make it any less true.

    I say Nick Miller is part of a revolution of young people who would rather find some happiness than settle for temporary stability. Nick Miller for pretend President!

  5. Decent article. Plenty of interesting theories and ideas to ruminate. Reminds me of some male friends I have. Thanks for writing it!

    In response to those who say they are this way b/c of the economy/society/baby boom generation/whatever –

    I don’t agree that the economy (or a finite number of jobs) is to blame. It’s so easy for people (this can be said of both men and women) to point to outward reasons for their lives as opposed to looking inward and taking responsibility (the theme of our generation? maybe). No one became a petulant (wo)man-child in 1933 when unemployment was 24.9%.

    Life is about picking yourself up and to try, try again. I’ve had to do it 3 times over and I’m only 30 (and a woman). It is a bummer sometimes? Yeah, absolutely. But SO WHAT?

    See it as an opportunity to grow and to become stronger, not to moan that something/someone else is to blame and then give up to a life of preconceived mediocrity b/c proverbial you “deserved” more. That’s a tiresome complaint.

  6. I totally got stuck on the whole, “Oh, I don’t care about money” thing with guys, but then I got sucked into about three (one long term) relationships in a row with guys who sucked away the little bit of money I had while I was actually off of my tooshie working towards a career and a life goal so I could support myself and they were conveniently falling into this category of laziness that I mistook for “misguided puppies needing help to get on their feet.” Heed my warning girls, a guy who is willing to sit around doing nothing while spending your hard earned money does not love you, if he does, he will find the motivation to get up off his arse. If he does not, you do not need to be the knight and shining armor to his lazy butt. Don’t wait until you have kids together to realize this. If he won’t do it for you, he most likely won’t do it for them. There is a line between being nice, being a schmuck, and being an overworked, overwhelmed, and on-your-own mommy. You can do it, but you deserve more. Those are my words of wisdom for the day. Thank you, and good day.

    • This. This is what I have such a hard time explaining to people. Every time I say that I will never date a guy without a job again, they look at me like I’m a monster.

  7. I’d definitely watch Season 2 for starters. I think the problem lies in the fact that we have to find a balance between women thinking that the man she should be with needs to be prince charming and the men knowing that they will never be princes. They’ve given up in a sense. Some of them are really letting themselves go, but not all of them have. The boy-man or man-child of tv is real but I really don’t think he’s the face of a generation. Maybe I’m being too optimistic. Also, this article:

    http://markmanson.net/a-new-masculinity

  8. I’d definitely watch Season 2 for starters. I think the problem lies in the fact that we have to find a balance between women thinking that the man she should be with needs to be prince charming and the men knowing that they will never be princes. They’ve given up in a sense. Some of them are really letting themselves go, but not all of them have. The boy-man or man-child of tv is real but I really don’t think he’s the face of a generation. Maybe I’m being to optimistic. Also, this article:

    http://markmanson.net/a-new-masculinity

    • You’re right as far as the ‘sitting on your ass’ stereotype the author tries to paint on all young men. In 2010 The Bureau of Labor measured the labor force participation rate for males of age 25-35 to be 90.3%, and for females of age 25-35 to be at 74.7%. This is good news, and should shift the discussion away from linking joblessness to young mens disinterest in a traditional marriage.
      http://www.bls.gov/emp/ep_table_303.htm

      • 90% may be working, but how many of them have a job that is as challenging as their capabilities. For example, I have known several men who were “employed,” but it was part time, or work they could get away with doing little at. Then they don’t even bother to go half of the time (god knows how they were not fired for the # of days they missed, oh wait, because it really didn’t matter if they were there or not).

        I also don’t think the link is between unemployment and traditional marriage, or even roles. It is the link between laziness and a lack of motivation and being bad relationship partners. I am not saying all men (I am not a man hater or basher), but it is a rising trend that I and several of my girlfriends have experienced. It is the men who almost make us feel like we are going against our women’s equality if we aren’t buying them dinner…this turns into an every time thing. Eventually, if we don’t hand over half of our paycheck (despite them never contributing financially or even in other ways around the house, with the kids, etc.), then we don’t love them, or want to see them fail despite the fact that they have already made up their mind to fail.

        I believe this can be seen from both sexes, but it is an unattractive trait that seems to be on the rise with men, and the media and Hollywood (like a detrimental Disney cartoon) is making women feel like they need to just give in and fall for the man-child because after all, he means well.

  9. most of my friends dads (and my own) were absent growing up. Many of the dads still around seemed miserable and had severe vices. Men used to feel pressured to get married and have a family and provide financially. It wasn’t that there were more heroic Marlboro men or elegant charmers with lofty careers and manners (ok, maybe manners), it’s that nowadays men don’t feel that tremendous pressure so viola! this is how they’re like without pressure!- Slow to committ and unmotivated. I will say, those men these days who do committ and become fathers, seem to be 100% happy to be there and have come into it because they wanted not, not had to. This makes for better husbands and dads and relationships.

  10. Wow, I live in Brazil and this is exactly what has been happening here!! So, don’t blame it on the lack of jobs, because although it’s an emerging country, we are not in crisis!

  11. Finite amount of adulthood? More like Finite amount of jobs.

    Society refuses to allow the male stereotype flex and fill all the roles women have left in favor of joining the workforce. It’s rather backwards of the author to lament for the good ol days, “of tall, dark, handsome men with money and power” when the reality of that stereotype would go against her moral definitions of a just and fair society.

    What she really takes issue with is how much it sucks to fill the traditional male role of breadwinner. She’s frustrated that filling the shoes of prince charming often meant finding a damsel in distress to provide for.

    Lastly, vilifying the male version of the damsel in distress is not the path forward to the dream of a functioning society, where distribution of money and power is split evenly for each gender. We’re going to have to embrace our male damsels for they’re a reality of the path we’ve chosen.

    • Hi not just because I’m a male person, but I have to agree with Dustin here.

      As I said above I’m male, I’m also a guy who has (or had) a lot of drive, I had aims and life goals that I wanted to achieve with my life. I have always worked hard (even to the point of substituting a fair amount of my college experience with a considerable amount of work), and early on in my career I was doing well, my life was together. Then we had the economy issues, I was made redundant, then I was made redundant again, and again. I currently am employed sure, but I’m not earning as much as someone in my field should. As a result of this I can’t afford anywhere to live, so I’m living with my folks, and I don’t really have the option to save. My point here is that being a male between 30-35 living in England my employment options are becoming increasingly limited, whereas my female friends are enjoying a wide scope of jobs that they can apply for. I’m becoming increasingly angry with society as sexism in the workplace is continuing, with guys like me now being persecuted based purely on gender stereotypes. I believe so much in equality, I repeat equality. I want to stand just as much a chance of getting a PA job as my female compatriots.

      Why am I now becoming a man child, who increasingly has no drive, who isn’t actively looking to improve my standing in life? Simple, I’m disillusioned, I’m exhausted and fed up with spending 5 years trying to rise above my situation only to be shot back down, again and again, and again. Why should I put myself on the line firmly trying to buoy my spirits, watch my male friends increasingly shot down, while I watch my female friends riding high, getting all of the jobs, both top to bottom of the career spectrum. Perhaps we guys deserve this for generations of unfair persecution of women, perhaps.

      I’m all for equality, but the world doesn’t seem to be. I’m not happy in life, and I don’t think I will be anytime soon. I’m a Nick Miller, I’m not proud of it, I’m an underachiever, I’m not unleashing my full potential, but I’m a product of the modern world, I’ve tried to lift myself above, I’ve tried but eventually you can only take so much before you break. And I’m broken.

  12. This article sums up a lot of guys I’ve been exhausted by dating over the past few years. I don’t want to generalize and say it’s accurate to all men, but in my experience, it certainly feels that way. Great article!

  13. Some of this, I agree with, much of it, I don’t, but a GREAT article, nonetheless! Now, here is the perfect chance for all our “Nicks” to take up for themselves! Or, if you happen to be a man with your life “together”, let’s hear it! You guys KNOW if a guy wrote an article that made us sound like lazy eternal teenie boppers we’d be all over that fight! I’m terribly interested in what the males here at Giggles think of this! :)

  14. Being successful is not directly correlated with being happy. Plenty of people choose not to seek out typical success for a variety of valid reasons. Perhaps they’d rather maintain lower level jobs whilst they remain unconvinced of what their future is, rather than unwittingly excel in a career they don’t enjoy, thus committing themselves to a life of drudgery they feel unable to escape. Perhaps they feel unwilling to take up the mantle of ‘relative success’ and the accompanying wage while there are still so many starving children in this world. Perhaps they gain true satisfaction from bartending, or whatever similar role they are currently fulfilling. Perhaps they fail to see the appeal of the disposable nature of the consumer driven society. Perhaps they are pursuing a passion that will bring them happiness even if it never brings them a cent. Perhaps they even get satisfaction from not doing the done thing and seeking to achieve at all costs.

    I don’t feel gender is relevant to this issue. Some men and women are motivated by the financial demands of today’s society, others aren’t. To me, the ones who aren’t are more appealing every time.

    Furthermore, I think that a person who does not actively seek out a relationship and/or marriage is secure in their own esteem, has greater knowledge of themselves, and is ultimately better prepared for the challenges that may lie ahead in life. I would far rather meet a man who has been single for extended periods of his adult life, than one who has felt the need to actively seek out a life companion.

    • Lots of little things in this article rubbed me the wrong way, but I didn’t know how to respond, so thank you for saying everything I couldn’t put into words! I also don’t believe that the end goal of every person ever should be to get married, buy a house, have babies, and hold a steady 9-5 job. That’s unrealistic in this age, and a lot of men actually ARE doing things with their lives, and even though that doesn’t revolve around marriage and stability, that doesn’t mean they aren’t motivated or on track. Silly article, but great response!

  15. Yikes I am a 26 year old woman and the 2nd to last paragraph sounded like me talking to myself…I guess I’m the lazy ladyfolk. I got my degree in Cinema Studies two years ago from SFSU and I moved back home, still working for Starbucks and complaining about how I hate life, wish I wasn’t single (my boyfriend broke up with me almost a year ago), I spend most of my down time watching movies or going out drinking with friends, and I still don’t have a clue what I want to be when I grow up because face it, there really isn’t anything lucrative or successful that can come from the degree I have. I really need to kick my own ass.

  16. Dude, you described an ex of mine TO A T.

    And in Nick’s defense (here I am defending a fictional character for like the 3rd time this week), he’s a lot more self-aware than a lot of real guys. He knows he’s pretty fucked up.

  17. andrea, this is my favorite article thus far on hello giggles!!! i 100% concur, and am also at a loss. i’d also like to add the guy who DOES have his shit together, IS tragically handsome, past 30, never been married, no children, but just seems to want to REMAIN single…. content with being hyper-social and meeting as many new people as possible each week. what is THAT about? you want to be a bachelor forever “playing the field”? that just makes me sad, mostly because i totally want you! :)

  18. I love how you equate women being strong and in charge, with women having abortions. Sorry, but abortions aren’t women standing up for anything except shirking responsibility.

    The rest of the article, I agree with.

    • I have no idea how you got to that conclusion. The writer states that the men with the power are trying to stop us having rights to our own bodies…that includes abortion but it also includes access to contraception, rape culture, etc. The statement, as I read it, was meant to illustrate that instead of accepting that women have some power now the men are trying to take more away from us and return us to some stereotype of a good housewife who can’t make any decisions about her own life.

    • So, by your terms, having a child is the ultimate arbiter of whether or not a person is a responsible human? Isn’t it possible that making the choice to not carry a pregnancy to term and not have a child that you aren’t prepared for (financially, emotionally, physically, whatever) might actually be the most responsible choice for a lot of people?

      Being pro-choice doesn’t mean advocating for abortions; it means trusting women to make whatever decision is most responsible for them at that moment in their lives.

    • If it’s true that some women who choose abortions do so because carrying the child to term is a hazard to their health, then it would seem that they are shirking the responsibility of bearing a child. For them, it’s bearing a child or dying, a prospect I can’t get behind.

      • Have I read that correctly, you would rather a woman put her own health, potentially her life, at risk in order to carry a pregnancy to term otherwise she is shirking the responsibility of parenthood?! So rather a child have a mother too ill to care for them than the pregnancy ended…

  19. Andrea. You nailed it. I’m a fan. And the kicker is if women do “kill it” then they’re too intimidating. Frankly, it’s unfair. You go to college, you get a job, you do a great job and you’d like to meet your equal- not be stuck with a man child who thinks it’s okay to, at 35, still live with 2 other dudes and do bong rips while watching Planet Earth.

    Then again- I think this whole phenomenon of a man child is mostly prevalent in Hollywood, where we foster “creativity” often to the detriment of adult development. Show business is the only industry where it’s acceptable to live in a shitty apartment, get drunk every night and film sketches about dicks and sluts for a friend’s comedy website. In fact, it sort of makes you a catch.
    Most of my friends in the rest of the country are married and have children… Which also seems terrible.

    Oh well, guess girls will have to settle for killin’ it and hopefully just do what we’ve done for centuries, turn to older men for affection.

  20. Thank you for this article. I have been feeling the same way and am glad to know I am not alone. Also, major points for the 30rock refs in the article ;)

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