The “Friend Zone” Myth: By Guest Kraken Jerika Coleman

A post I recently saw on tumblr really inspired me to say something about the ‘friend zone’ trend, and how much it honestly pisses me off. The post read: “Slut is how we vilify a woman for exercising her right to say yes. Friend zone is how we vilify a woman for exercising her right to say no.” Reading that made me think. Because everybody is aware of the fact that women will be judged for having sex (she shouldn’t be judged, but she will be, and that’s a sad fact of society right now), but it’s not as often that we encounter the opposite: a woman who becomes a bad person because she won’t have sex. So, now, not only are women being punished by society for having sex with men that weren’t our friends, but we’re actually being punished for not having sex with men that are our friends. There are obviously very few, if any, ways for women to win in society when it comes to our sexual behavior and this friend zone thing is making it even worse. 

The friend zone has become a widespread internet meme. If you’re unfamiliar with the term, it was essentially coined by many not-nice guys claiming to be nice guys, and who therefore believe that this entitles to them to sex with all their girl friends. There are six pages of definitions for it just on Urban Dictionary, most of which seem to be written by men who are just angry and bitter that they put time into a relationship without getting a sexual pay-off. Men collectively mourn their ‘fallen brothers’ who have ended up in the friend zone, and praise the ones who have managed to ‘escape.’  I’ve seen friend zone flowcharts with dozens of lines and layers trying to explain to men that they’re in the friend zone and how to get out of it, and holy shit I did not know that being friends was putting men through such a personal struggle. Guys got it real rough, y’all.

Search ‘friend zone’ on a website like 9GAG and you get a couple hundred results.  Some of them are relatively light-hearted, praising men like The Office’s Jim Halpert for being able to ‘overcome’ the friend zone and get a female friend to fall in love with him.  As if Pam was never a person to Jim, just an object to be achieved – as if any woman ever is just an object for a man to achieve, like a level in a video game. To men, we are all Princess Peach, and if you’re just good enough, and nice enough, we’ll let you come save us from Bowser, and you’ll win the game.

Some are much more violent, or angry in nature, like one I read that was written by someone claiming to a “Good Guy…or rather, a New Found Asshole.” He blasted his female friends for not wanting to have sex with him, a self-proclaimed great guy, and for instead choosing to sleep with men that he had deemed assholes. What makes this guy a great guy? Why, he’s always been nice to you! He’s listened to your problems, helped you out, and given you advice. What makes this other guy an asshole?  I’m assuming just the fact that he got to have sex with the girl.

Guess what: some of you may think its funny, but in reality, it’s actually sexist B.S. that further perpetrates our unfortunate rape culture. In 2012, that is literally the last thing that women need. For the love of God, are my female friends and I really going to have to go through the rest of our lives being treated like shit because we fail to meet male expectations? Really? In the 21st century, this sort of judging crap isn’t over with yet?  Because I am getting bored of it, and frankly, I want to have better things to do than worry about what people think of me.

The concept of the friend zone is depressing as hell, if you actually sit down to think about it, which hopefully you will after this. Judging by the concept of the friend zone, no man has ever actually wanted to be friends with a woman. Ever. Because friendship isn’t enough? The idea of a guy being friends with a girl is no longer a positive thing, it’s become a punishment. “Ugh,” men around the world seem to be collectively thinking, “this girl wants to talk to me, and wants to hang out, and joke, and share common interests.  What fresh hell is this and when the frig will it end?”

I just read a post on tumblr, ironically tagged ‘chivalry’ (leading me to believe that English classes are failing to teach people the actual definitions of words), written by a guy who claimed that the only reason a guy would stick around in a friendship is because he wants a romantic relationship, and eventually that guy will get tired and move on, ending the friendship. WHAT? NO! HOW? There are no actual friendships, there are only pre-sex relationships?  And the punishment for not having sex with a guy is that the relationship is over entirely? My friendship isn’t worth as much as my vagina? How is this okay? How is anybody (not just girls) okay with living in that kind of world?

Men are seemingly desperate not to be friends with women; I guess they’ll do anything to get out of it. So, shout-out to all my guy friends who I haven’t had sex with, so…all of you, sorry I’m so boring and clothed all the time, but thanks for sticking with me! I guess this has been really hard on you. Men just want to be friendly enough with a woman that she will eventually want to have sex with them. Judging by the rage that men feel when this fails to occur, men don’t just want to have sex with women, they feel as though they actually deserve it. The men who believe in the friend zone inherently believe that if they are just nice enough to a woman, that they should be rewarded with sex. That if they’re just a nice enough guy, that getting to have sex with a girl is their right.

That is what being in a rape culture means. In this day and age, very few people are going to come out and say, “yeah, rape is okay.” I honestly do believe that this is because most people actually know that rape is bad. I believe that given the opportunity, most people will not rape. The act of rape is not normalized within our culture as it is in others. But being in a rape culture means that men will still get enraged if they feel as though they’ve been denied a woman’s body; that a woman’s body can even be denied to begin with. Living in a rape culture means that men are brought up to believe that all they have to do is be a good friend, and they will be rewarded with sex. Almost every movie with a male hero ends with him getting the girl of his dreams – women are trophies for good behavior. Any woman who refuses to be this trophy is deemed a horrible person who needs to be attacked – most often verbally, but sometimes physically too.

That’s why men insult women. Some men probably are just prudish and backwards enough to think that having any sex at all makes a woman a whore (I have a male friend who was willing to label a mutual female friend of ours a slut simply because he’d heard rumours that she’d slept with TWO men). But I think that in the case of most men, it’s that they’re bitter and jealous. Most men are actually super-okay with women having lots of a sex, as long as all the sex they’re having is with them.  BECAUSE THEY EARNED IT, BY BEING A DECENT HUMAN BEING, DON’T YA KNOW.

Which is crap, because if you’re the type of guy who thinks just being a decent human being means that a girl has to have sex with you, you’re not a decent human being.  You never were. You’re just a tool. Odds are, she can tell. It’s probably why she doesn’t want to have sex with you to begin with. We’re not idiots. If you were actually a decent human being, you’d be okay with being rejected. That doesn’t mean you want to be rejected (nobody does), but it means that you recognize a woman has the right to reject you.  An actual ‘nice guy’ won’t go around insulting a girl because she ‘failed’ to fall in love with him.  We haven’t failed to fall in love with you, like it some goal that we all had that we just couldn’t achieve, we just don’t love you. An actual ‘nice guy’ would respect women, and respect our right to make our own romantic choices instead of complaining about them.

You know how I know the idea of the friend zone is sexist? Because there isn’t an equivalent for women. That isn’t to say that women don’t often have unrequited romantic feelings towards their male friends, because oh my god, do we ever. Should I show you my diaries all the way from middle school up until last week to prove my point? But girls don’t go in the friend zone. Because if a girl likes a guy who doesn’t like her back, she’s just labeled hopeless and needy. As far as I know, there is no large gathering of girls lamenting the fact that we were SO NICE and WHY AREN’T WE BEING REWARDED. A man isn’t judged for wanting to just be friends with a girl (lol guyz, she’s probably super ugly or something, its totes understandable – that was sarcasm, BTW). Society taught us that, if guy isn’t attracted to a girl, it’s the girl’s fault – we failed at making ourselves attractive or acceptable enough for him to like. And if a girl doesn’t like a guy, well, society says that it’s still her fault too, obviously. A man’s relationship choices are always valid, and never attacked, no matter what. Why are women attacked for wanting to just be friends with a guy, but very few people are sitting around saying, “uh, men, why do you want to just have sex with me, and not actually be friends?” (hint, because the rules mostly made by men, and they don’t want to be told how wrong they are). Men are allowed to choose their romantic partners without judgment, and women aren’t. That’s how I know the friend zone is sexist, and that’s how I know it’s wrong.

Nobody has any obligation to like anybody. Ever. Ever. There is literally nothing on this planet that somebody can do that automatically means someone else will have to like you. Stop, no, there is nothing, so whatever you’re thinking, the answer is no. You could always be there for me whenever I needed you, and that would be lovely, but that doesn’t mean I have to have sex with you. You could give me a billion dollars, and I’d frigging think you are the most awesome person ever, but I still have final say on what my vagina does and does not do, thank you very much. That just isn’t how attraction works. There is no one to blame when someone says that they’re not sexually attracted to you. So, stop blaming girls, and stop talking about the frigging friend zone like it actually exists. It doesn’t, it’s not legitimate, you’re actually not suffering, so get over it.  Start recognizing that you’re actually a little (or a lot) misogynistic, and then stop being misogynistic.

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You can find Jerika on twitter @dreamsofmarchesa

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