Friendzone: the perennial location of nice guys everywhere (x)
Within the past year I have been hearing more and more about this all powerful, all terrible “friendzone” that so many of my acquaintances claim to have been the victim of. While the act of being “friendzoned” is one that can technically affect both men and women, it is more often than not applied to a man rejected by a woman.
In the crudest description possible: “friendzoning” is when a man believes he’s put enough friendship coins into the metaphorical female slot machine with the expectation of receiving a sexual and/or romantic relationship in return and instead is still considered only a friend. It is the position that the only reason to be friends with a woman is as a stepping stone to the ultimate goal of receiving sexual favors from them.
Here’s why I call bullshit:
To start, I’m not denying that there are women (and men) who have friends that they know they will never be romantically or sexually interested in. The reason could be as simple as a lack of physical appeal — I personally prefer men who have dark hair and are taller than me. It’s a thing — or as complex as a differing set of inherent moral and philosophical values. That is real and that is okay. It does not make those friendships somehow inherently lesser than somebody’s sexual relationships.
Now where the concept of friendzoning comes in, is when men claim that that woman’s friendship IS in fact intrinsically lesser to the supposed sexual relationship they “should” be having. When being her friend is no longer gratifying, but is instead seen as some form of personal punishment against the man.
What gets my feminist ways all up in arms is because of the inherent misogyny that roots itself in the foundation of the concept of “friendzoning”. To believe that friendzoning is a real thing is to believe, on some level, that men are somehow OWED a sexual relationship with the woman of their choosing. That a woman should not be in control and full ownership of her body, and that instead it is up to the men to divide amongst themselves the specific women of their preference. The belief in friendzoning is making the assumption that by a woman exercising her own right to choose her sexual partners, she is somehow personally and maliciously denying her body to her male friends.
More often than not the men perpetuating this belief think of themselves as “Nice Guys”, who because they treat women with respect and kindness (usually with the hidden agenda of getting in her pants) believe that they deserve a reward for this. When these men don’t get the sexual award they were seeking, they’re claim of having been friendzoned usually leads to some form of slut-shaming where the woman’s disinterest is seen as a personal failing on her part and earns her the title of being a bitch.
It doesn’t matter if the woman genuinely enjoys his friendship. It doesn’t matter if she’s made it clear that she’s interested in someone else or not looking for a relationship or just personally not interested in him specifically. Her rejection is seen as a fault on her part and gives him the apparent right to demean and degrade her with insults like “slut” and “whore”.
Let’s make it clear: it sucks when a guy (or girl) is interested in a friend of theirs and the feelings aren’t reciprocated. But no matter who you are or what your relationship status is; if you believe in gender equality then you have to acknowledge and respect that the woman has the right not to be interested in you romantically. And that no matter how much a man may be interested in that woman, she is in no way required to reciprocate his desires and she should not be negatively judged because of that.
Friendzoning is one of the most prevalent examples of casual sexism that I see in my everyday life. Male friends of mine see nothing wrong in bemoaning the women in their lives who have friendzoned them. Even worse, female friends of mine see nothing wrong in vilifying other women for supposedly intentionally keeping eligible guys in the friendzone.
This is both dangerous and harmful to our society because it feeds into the unnatural assumption that men have a basic entitlement to the women in their lives. It reinforces the idea that women are property and that their sexuality is a contract that a man earns possession of through enough payments of his friendship. It is the false presumption that a woman’s sexual appetite exists only to fulfill a man’s desire.