Wednesday, April 6, 2011

The Friend Zone

I have this . . . acquaintance* who asked me about the "friend zone" and how to avoid it the other day. If you're not familiar with the concept, the friend zone is that hideous place wherein you know a woman and you have to talk to her and be all nice to her, but she doesn't give you vaginal access.

And that right there is my problem with the entire concept. What a bother, what a burden, what a horrible thing to be friends with a woman. Because what fucking good are we if you can't stick your penis into one of our orifices, amirite? Talking to us without getting at least a blowjob? What the fuck is that about? Listening to us and knowing as as people without the payoff that is sex? Who does that voluntarily? Honestly.

I don't think this guy is a bad guy. The friend zone is a cultural staple in the US, much discussed, much derided, generally acknowledged to be a place to avoid. I'm sure it didn't occur to him exactly how insulting it was to have this conversation with me, the woman he's never going to experience any sexual activity with, the woman he was asking for advice from . . . you know, the woman he's currently in the friend zone with.

Seriously though, how insulting is that? I'm not saying that I don't think people, both men and women, are highly sexually motivated. I'm not saying that there is a certain degree of disappointment to wanting to engage in sexual activity with a person who does not feel the same way. However, it is insulting that my friendship is some sort of horrible gag prize when you're not getting access to my vagina. It is telling of the patriarchy/rape culture that friendship with a woman is the undesirable result of not getting sexual activity, isn't it?

Anyway, this is what he was told, by other men, concerning the friend zone: don't wait too long to get laid, or you'll be stuck in the friend zone, loser! This was what I said in response to that: it doesn't take me, or any woman, long to decide whether or not we'd like to fuck you. How quickly you "move" on us isn't changing that, i.e., if we wanted to fuck you, we would, if we don't, nothing you do short of rape is going to do anything about that (and rape isn't sex, anyway).

It is possible, however, that we may initially have wanted to fuck you, but further acquaintance with you introduced us to facts about you that made you undesirable (oh, 5 kids by 2 different women and you don't pay child support on any of them? awesome!), but it's not like we wouldn't have figured that out anyway. Though I suppose you at least would have gotten laid in that situation, huh. Asshat.

*I can't really call him a friend, but I've known him for a long time. You know, one of those.


  1. And that right there is my problem with the entire concept. What a bother, what a burden, what a horrible thing to be friends with a woman. Because what fucking good are we if you can't stick your penis into one of our orifices, amirite?

    I wouldn't worry about that bit too much, honestly. The "friend zone" idea is more, "I want to date [this person], but I'm worried she'll see me as a friend instead of a potential mate." I mean, it's stupid as fuck on its own merits and was originally created in one of the internet's original fits of viral misogyny (the Ladder Theory, as I recall, wherein the conclusion that the guy reached was that all women are bitches and you're best off if you gun for "friends with benefits"). The "friend zone" now is used often with the illustration of Ross and Rachel on Friends, wherein the guy is in love, the woman sees him as a friend and nothing more, and several seasons of pointless angst ensue.

    Some people still use it in the original sense, of course. The people in your illustration seem to. But the way the "friend zone" made it in to larger popular cultural context has really been about misunderstanding relationship dynamics, rather than misunderstanding sexual dynamics. Mostly because it's more profitable to write hack sitcom setups than porn that requires a backstory of some sort...

    That said, this is right on in the fuck-stupid department:

    Anyway, this is what he was told, by other men, concerning the friend zone: don't wait too long to get laid, or you'll be stuck in the friend zone, loser!

    It's founded on this notion that women and fickle, but unchangeable creatures. They will date you (or have sex with you, if that's the only goal), but only if it happens right away. At which point nothing will ever change.

    That's humanity fail on every possible level. The answer to that concept, in my humble opinion, is, "You obviously don't deserve to get laid, dingus."

  2. "So, how do I avoid ending up in the friend zone?"

    "Well, for starters, you could quit thinking that women are interchangeable by virtue of having vaginas, or that there's any one rule or strategy that you can usefully apply to a diverse group of individuals. If you want a dating situation where your pool of potential partners really are interchangeable, try dating Zerglings."

    This is precisely why I hate the Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus genre of relationship advice, by the way. Broadly true? Perhaps. Useful on a day to day basis when dealing with individuals? No.

  3. Broadly true? Perhaps.

    Nope. Not at all. What we have is a society that has the idea there is "man" and there is "woman." Every "man" is interchangeable. Every "woman" is interchangeable.

    "Woman" likes pink things, hates sports, and wants nothing more to go shoe shopping. "Man" loves all sports, hates shopping for anything other than electronics gear, and can always negotiate a hell of a deal at a car dealership. Since this is the case, all our stories then reflect that this is the case, reinforcing the idea that there is an archetype of "woman" and another, different, archetype of "man."

    "Men" are from Mars and "Women" are, indeed, from Venus. But that's because, just like Martians and Venusians, "Men" and "Women" do not exist. They are social constructs.

    You don't date or marry a woman. You don't work in the same office as a woman. You don't go to a book club with a woman. You marry Kim. You work with Gina and Martha and Amy. You're in a book club with Emily and Tara and Kelly.

    Each of them is a woman in the genetic sense, but none of them are women in the constructed archetype sense. It makes no sense, then, to say, "How would a woman react to [this]," since it's not "a woman" reacting. Kim might like something that Martha hates and Emily finds kinda cute but, on balance, rather silly.

    This is why my simple statement of my own basic feminism works on pretty much every level. "Women are people, too." I came up with it as a way of saying, "Hey, guys, you're idiots if you don't realize that women are people and not just objects." But I find it works on so many other levels. Because there is no such thing as an archetypical "woman," just people who have two X chromosomes and all of the other weird and wonderful variety that makes up the broad category of "people."

  4. My advice to guys, in general, would go like this.

    1. Personal hygiene is important.
    2. Funny helps, but its not a magic bullet.
    3. You need to be confident.
    4. Chat with women, and not just to get laid (this is treating them like human beings).

  5. 5.Don't be a dick (unless you want to because it's fun).

    Of course, my goal in life is never to get laid. And if I'm talking to a woman who can't handle the fact that I'm prone to say incredibly stupid things and then take them too far for my own amusement, she's probably not going to want to be around me for the long haul. At which point I get to go home and play video games or whatever it is that Kay Hymowitz says is wrong with me. Y'know, the guy who is an immature man-child because he plays video games and hasn't gotten married and settled down in the suburbs or whatever.

  6. There is some virtue in playing video games and not living in the suburbs.

  7. There is some virtue in playing video games and not living in the suburbs.

    Sadly, I can only comment from first-hand experience on one of those things. Of course, in my humble opinion, Dallas-Fort Worth is 98% suburb, so it's not like I have too many options.

  8. You know, sometimes I think we should all just give up on human romance adopt the troll approach. (Keep clicking the "Next" link for the full, in depth explanation)

    Sure we'd end up confused as all get out, ("oh god the quadrants"), but troll gender is vestegial and unecessary for reproduction.

    Oh and it's worth going back to the start of that comic and reading it right through. It's epic, hilarious, terrifying and sad, (often at the same time) and it manages to be all that in spite (or perhaps because) of the rediculous art-style.

  9. there are sooooooooo many problems -

    the continued cultural insistance the men and women canNOT be friends with each other - that any and all such m/f friendships are LIES in one way or another. the most common being that the guy is being a "friend" solely to get laid.
    second most common is that the gal is being a "friend" solely to use the guy for money/emotional support/random hard labor, KNOWING that he wants to screw her and using that to manipulate him into all this "work" for "nothing".

    gods, it pisses me off.

    i hate the WHOLE THING! i have LOTS of male friends - and, to be completely, bluntly honest, the ones who have made it clear that they're ONLY being my friend in the hope that i will someday fuck them? i stop being friends with. because they AREN'T my friend, so why should i be theirs? i'm cool, i'm smart, [i think] i'm funny, i'm fun to do things with, and i'm a REALLY good friend, who will listen when needed, or kick your ass when needed.
    if ALL OF THAT means less than the chance to get in my pants, YOU [generic you] are NOT worth my fucking time.


    i've pissed off a LOT of guys by being upfront when called for. like, the random guy at LARP asking me out, saying "I noticed that you never seem to be "with" any guy or another. do you want to go out with me?".
    my answer: "No, sorry. i'm not "with" anyone, because i currently don't know anyone that i want to date - and i'm not going to date someone JUST because i don't currently have someone to date. i'm worth more than that - and so are you. it would be INCREDIBLY insulting for me to date you just because you're there. i don't want that, and i hope you don't want that either, because if you do, i can't even be friends with you."

    you'd be surprised, by HOW MANY guys, once you've put it that way, accept it and are actually kind of happy with it.

    but it's DAMNED fucking hard to do - if you've misjudged the guy, you're going to be called every name, ever, and he might attack you [not JUST physically - i once spent several being told by everyone i knew that i was a "snob" because i wouldn't date this specific guy in whom i had NO interest, because he told everyone i said "i was better than him"]

    but other guys have taken it better. not all, but many. and either way, i don't have worry anymore that they're really "NiceGuys(tm)" just playing me. so there's that.

    *shudder* i HATE this whole fucking mess. i can have male friends! without sex being an issue! and i *DO*!!!


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