In this episode of Feminist Dictionary, we examine an oft-used chorus of jilted ex-boyfriends and dewy-eyed hopefuls across the wide world of dating. I’m talking about the “Friend Zone.”
The “Friend Zone” is a mythical land (metaphorical, not physical) that men are relegated to when deemed unacceptable as boyfriend or lover material. One can be banished to the Friend Zone for many reasons; he is not enough of a jerk (because all women love to be abused and neglected, right?), he is physically unattractive, he doesn’t make a lot of money, he used to date her sister, or the classic “I don’t want to ruin our friendship by dating.” For one reason or another, an otherwise relationship-worthy human being has been removed from the pool of romantic possibilities for this individual, and now he is in her “Friend Zone.”
Conceivably, this dynamic could go either way. It’s not impossible for a guy to friend-zone a girl. But when it is referred to in pop culture or on the internet, it is almost always a female rejecting a male, mostly because it is still more acceptable in our society for a guy to proposition a girl than the other way around. And therein lies the problem.
The very existence of the term “Friend Zone” is an insult to feminism. It is almost always used derogatorily to women, who it accuses of being in the wrong to put a man in the Zone. After all, he’s a nice enough guy – why won’t that cold-hearted bitch at least throw him a pity fuck? By shaming and deriding the perpetrators of a Friend Zone-like rejection, we are saying that men who try hard enough deserve to have the women they pursue, and by extension, the woman in question has an obligation to reward all their hard work with sex or love. Not only that, but the men who have been Friendzoned are scorned as being too weak to take what they want instead of trying to actually win a girl’s affection. The “Friend Zone” perpetuates the myth that guys who actually exhibit traits of friendship (listening when she speaks, offering advice, doing favors, etc.) are not bold enough to get women, and only complete douchebags will be romantically successful.
Women and men alike must come to terms with the truth, which is that everyone has a right to have platonic friends of the opposite gender. I have every right to enjoy the company of male friends without the suggestion that I am doing a bad thing by not putting out for them. Not everyone is going to want to sleep with you all the time, and I am not going against moral code by denying vagina-access to every Tom, Dick and Harry I meet. And is that such a terrible thing? We shouldn’t be using the word “friend” in a negative manner. Friends are good things to have. Maybe the Friend Zone is a totally sweet place to chill.