Being "Nice" is Overrated

Updated: Jun 25, 2021

In every work of modern fiction I’ve ever read there is rarely a female protagonist who is strong, capable, and moral. Female protagonists in fiction are frequently lesbians, man-eaters, man-haters, incompetent or otherwise aggravating to some degree.

On the rare occasions you do see these types of characters; you sit up and take notice.

I remember reading when Charlotte Bronte wrote Jane Eyre, the public went wild and the critics had a fit. Her portrayal of a thinking, feeling, intelligent, capable young woman who would not compromise her values even when it hurt, was unprecedented in her time and rare even to this day.

Charlotte Bronte

How often in fiction is the woman the main character and the man the secondary character? In the rare instances the woman is the protagonist, how often is she wise? Or capable in handling her own affairs? Or moral to the point of not compromising what she believes in?

People often cite to me Wonder Woman as a female archetype but, let’s be honest, she’s naïve and not always a bastion of morality. I'll prefer Elizabeth Bennett from Pride and Prejudice.

The Great Jane Austen

The lead female character I am creating is the character I have always wished to read about and never have- except in real life. In real life it’s not hard to find stories of determined, capable women who won’t compromise their values. But how often do you see feminine strength in fiction? Are these types of characters just not interesting enough for portrayal?

Check out this link about Dr. Elizabeth Blackwell, she was the first woman to graduate from medical school in the United States. She was awesome.

In my own story that I am posting on this blog, I want to create realistic women who are wise, strong, capable, kind, and will not compromise their values.

Please note something in this list of female virtues, nowhere have I listed, “nice”, as a desirable character trait. “Why,” do you ask? Allow me to explain.

Growing up, I was taught to, “be nice”, to “play nice”, to, “look nice”.

As I grew up, I came to see, “playing nice” as meaning letting bullies push you around; you don’t want to risk saying something mean.

Being, “Nice”, means doing nothing when you see something happening that you know is wrong; you mind your own business.

Looking, “nice”, means dressing and presenting yourself in ways that are uncomfortable and unnatural to hide who you really are and fit into a mold of what the world thinks is attractive. (i.e. dresses, makeup and heels).

You may be wondering where I am getting this idea of “nice” being bad, and please, let me clarify; I see a big difference between being “nice” and being kind.

I got this idea from reading the Bible.

I’ll never forget the first time I read the Bible how shocked I was. All my life I’d heard of Gentle Jesus, meek and mild, but when I read the Bible for myself I was shocked. This Jesus of the Bible was sarcastic angry, even occasionally violent. Jesus was even a bit of a prankster. (Come on, let’s be honest, the whole walking on water thing had to just be flat out fun ;-).

And that little fake out he did with two of his disciples on the road to Emmaus? I’d bet money that right when they recognized him, Jesus winked before he vanished and freaked them out.

Jesus was not a “Nice” guy. There are plenty of times he got into shouting matches in places of worship, plenty of times he was friendly with someone who was a social pariah, (often for good reason).

Then there was that famous incident where he was so mad at how the temple was being used as a market that he literally threw the salesman out. (Let’s be honest, for all those who had been cheated by those creeps- that had to have been fun to watch ;-).

Jesus was is kind, he was is compassionate, he was is moral and he is strong both physically and in his spirit, but he is not, “Nice”.

Jesus is not called the “Lion of Judah” for nothing.

29 “There are three things that are stately in their stride,

four that move with stately bearing:

30 a lion, mighty among beasts,

who retreats before nothing;... - Proverbs 30:29-30

Lions are not, “nice”.

Lions have claws.

Lions have teeth.

Lions are terrifying.

As a woman who follows Jesus, I cannot afford to be “nice”. I have to be fierce. I need to have the heart of a lion and be ready to take a stand at a moment’s notice. I need to do what is right, even if it hurts.

People don’t like to be held accountable or told what they are doing is wrong. But people also need to know WHEN something is wrong.

Sometimes, taking a stand is going to be offensive and walking the path God has set out for you means you may have to walk it alone.

And yet, you won’t be alone.

The same one who makes the sun shine and the oceans ebb and flow will be with you.

So, when that time comes, will you cower in silence, or will you roar?

For some encouragement, check out this awesome song by the great Steven Curtis Chapman. I smile every time I hear it. :->

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