Who invented the “good guy”? Is it the same respectability politics trickster who invented the “good girl”?
Oddly, I don’t think so.
Because the “good girl” comes with a host of aspirational attributes: sexually chaste, cooks, cleans, has her own money, doesn’t curse, knows how to fix a plate, and eschews any male attention or compliments to appease her Man. (The “man” is capitalized here because for a good girl, he is 80% of her world.) On top of that, she needs to be beautiful. Oh yeah, and fit. Don’t forget…eager to attend all family gatherings.
Meanwhile, it seems the male counterpart to that merely needs to keep his own clothes and shoes clean, have some semblance of a job and not physically attack women. Bonus points if he doesn’t cheat. The “good guy” is so easy to attain that he is practically everywhere. How many times have you heard one of your friend-zoned male suitors lament to you that you’re “pookin’ pa nub in all the wrong places” when you have a “good guy” right in front of you? It doesn’t matter if he shares none of your interests, prefers Cracker Barrel to your foodie fantasies or lives in his grandmother’s basement playing Candy Crush all day. Because he’s never balled a fist at a woman and knows how to wash a week’s worth of underwear, he is your Prince Charming and you’re a fool for letting him get away.
Fellas, if we’re being honest, do women you are not sexually attracted to EVER hit you with the good girl lament? I would be happy to be wrong in this case, but I don’t think I am.
This is why I am a little surprised at the absolute caping going on right now for a fictional character on Insecure. Lawrence, Issa Rae’s romantic interest and live-in boyfriend on the show, has (as of the season finale) left her after she cheated on him with an old flame. This after the couple had been set adrift in a sea of uncertainty due to his years long unemployment, tendency to sit around their shared apartment in grubby gear and shirk certain jobs because they weren’t good enough for him. Sure, he seemed sweet and he was a-ight on the eyes, but there was a heck of a lot wrong with his current situation.
Now, before you start telling me how the Black woman needs to learn to stand by her kang (and I do mean it just that way) in times of need, let me be Crystal Pepsi clear: Issa had ZERO business cheating on Lawrence. If she found him so idle, boring and tedious to deal with, she should have put him out the same episode they threw out that terrible living room couch they shared. She should have broken it off, gotten a profile on Bumble and double dated with her BFF Molly.
Yes, Issa was wrong for being passive aggressive. She was wrong-er (yes, that’s a word) for seeking refuge with Molly without making it clear to Lawrence she was unhappy. And she was clearly Biggie Smalls-featuring-Eminem dead wrong for sleeping with a tired high school fantasy fuccboi.
I have no ill will toward Lawrences, real or imagined, who return cuckoldry with rejection. Actually, the fact that he moved out on Issa made me respect him more, though I wish he hadn’t done it in the dead of night while she was on a trip. Second, his post-move out dalliance with a young woman named Tasha who had clearly been pining over him was only wrong in that he appeared to be using her for revenge sex when she clearly had real, fuzzy I-can-do-you-better-than-she-can feelings for him. The damage to Issa was zip in my mind. The pair had broken up so…
That said, Lawrence is no prize. Just because he wasn’t cheating during their relationship doesn’t make him worthy of worship. He seemed, at least on screen, annoying, aimless and unmotivated. He sat around like a lump for four years allowing a human being that wasn’t his mama to help provide him with material and emotional comfort, meanwhile gestating a business plan so long he could have had four kids in that same span of time.
He is not the hill to die on, gents.
Let’s look at “Lawrence” and men like him for what they are…a lot more trouble than a romantic partner is usually willing to take on. While he and his counterparts don’t deserve to have their hearts ripped from their chests by cheating girlfriends or wives, there is another thing they don’t deserve: participation awards.
Young Law ain’t worth the cotton in your capes.
YOUR TURN: What do you think? Is the “good guy” myth overblown? Who did you think was wrong in the Issa versus Lawrence aftermath?
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VP, Head of Digital Editorial