Has anyone noticed the sudden glut of articles, columns, and letters to editors in local papers about how hard it is for a nice guy to find a girl? So many guys whining about how they are such nice people, and girls just won’t look at them. And you couldn’t have missed that ad for the woman-bashing Tom Leykis Show on the sides of local buses insisting that “women hate nice guys.” Add to this equation Cherry Wong, sex columnist for the Seattle Weakly, who confesses that, yup, she doesn’t like nice guys, and neither do other girls.

Maybe there was simply a flurry of activity along these lines because of Valentine’s Day. Yet it is a recurring theme whenever people talk about How Men Meet Women, and vice versa. It’s worth a closer look.

The overwhelming implication of this line of thinking is that women do not want to have relationships with men who will treat them with respect, affection, decency and honesty: no, they want to be taken for granted, used sexually, abandoned and neglected–heck, probably even abused, beaten and pimped. And if they fall somewhere in the middle of this continuum, it’s really money or power or fame they’re after–if a guy has one or more, he’s got a date; if not, he’s at the video store again.

Isn’t anyone else finished with these tired explanations of “what women want” and “what men want;” these endlessly paraded stereotypes that reveal absolutely nothing of truth or substance about what humans want? All working from the same basic assumption that all humans somehow magically want the same thing? Well we don’t, and this prevailing tendency to reinforce every negative image and concept of women (and, in all fairness, of men) serves only to keep men and women apart. Separate. Distanced from each other. Not only on Saturday nights, but as evidenced by the high divorce rate and high rate of violence perpetrated by the former against the latter.

But let’s get back to all those poor “nice” guys complaining about how they can’t find a woman. First of all: nice according to whom? Their mothers? I mean really: what third-party independent council researched the question? To what sitting tribunal of interested parties did they present their findings? How long and hard have these guys examined themselves in an attempt to find out whether they really are nice or not? And anyway, what’s their definition of “nice?” They remember your birthday? Send flowers? Stay awake for 20 seconds after ejaculation? Don’t disrespect you in public? Keep their opinion of the size of your breasts/hips/thighs to themselves (even though they may share said opinion with their friends)?

Second of all: are they looking for a “nice” woman, or for a woman who looks like Claudia Schiffer? Let’s be honest: if Claudia Schiffer would give them the time of day, they wouldn’t give a good goddamn if she thought they were nice. They’d just wanna know if she’d give it up, and their degree of niceness would be in direct proportion to their belief that they would be getting some in exchange for it. After all, there are plenty of “nice” women wondering why men seem to be singularly uninterested in them — oh wait a minute, it’s because unluckily for them they do not look anything like Claudia Schiffer.

Let me share with you a classic: Mike Seely recently wrote a piece for the Weakly about his attempt, over three consecutive weekends, to meet a woman “using only crass pickup lines” (to wit: “I’d like to wrap your legs around my neck and wear you like a feedbag.” “Baby, you’re like a championship bass–I don’t know whether to mount you or eat you.” “Is that a keg in your pants, cuz I’d sure love to tap that ass.” “Hi, my name’s Pogo. Wanna jump on my stick?”). Of course he never “gets lucky;” he merely manages to offend and shock a lot of innocent women. Then he writes about it as if it’s their fault (about the line aimed at a woman who turned out to be with her girlfriend: “Of all the girls in the bar, I would pick out the gay couple with no sense of humor.” As if to say: “If only they had a sense of humor, they would think being verbally abused by a drunken male stranger was funny! And they’d take me home and we’d have a threesome!”). Mike’s conclusion? “A macho, chauvinistic pickup artist gets nowhere in this town. Stick to chivalry, flowers, and chance meetings on the wine aisle of the Queen Anne Thriftway.” From one unendurable stereotype to another. How about something new and radical, like respect, honesty, the ability to be funny without having to offend as a cover up for your own insecurity? Or even more rare, that ever elusive and long sought-for quality: humanity?

As for the women who confess they are addicted to “bad” boys: that ain’t by a long shot all of us. They are, however, the male fantasy of what a woman wants sexually (“Bad girl, likes bad boys, will do whatever you want me to do and let you do whatever you want to do to me, will bring my equally bad friend, we both look like Claudia Schiffer. No expectations; no strings; no demands; no nagging.”). Not surprising that the women making these “confessions” are the ones published in mainstream media.

Myself, I don’t look anything like Claudia Schiffer, and I ain’t particularly nice either (although my mom sure thinks I am). And I also don’t sit around wondering why Brad Pitt isn’t calling me.