The term ‘friendzone’ was, believe it or not, coined in 1994 in Friends. (It’s The One with the Blackout, if you were wondering.) Since then the term’s usage skyrocketed into the mainstream, finding its place in the common vernacular. It may seem harmless at first and surely it’s just a definition of a relationship type, but upon closer inspection, its dangerous consequences come into view. Urban Dictionary’s top definition for friendzoned is;
“When a member of the opposite sex (usually one you want to hook up with) declares you to be “just a friend”, thereby ruining all potential chances of sex.”
Further down is this worrying definition of the type of man most likely to be ‘friendzoned';
“You’re an average guy, nice, intelligent, funny, with great wit, you care about other people, whether they are strangers, friends or lovers. You try not to behave like a self-centered idiot and the last thing you would ever do is hurt a woman.”
Do you match those criteria? Well if you do, you’ll soon learn the definition of this word! Your crush will date a lousy self-centered prick and you’ll have the honour of being the support shoulder when she realises how badly he treats her and complains about how awful her life is, wondering why every guy she dates turns out to be a complete moron.
The concept of friendzoning is as follows; guy befriends girl he is attracted to. He acts and treats her like a friend and when he tries to initiate a sexual and/or romantic relationship, the girl rejects him by saying that she prefers him as a friend, therefore ‘friendzoning’ the man. The girl is then villainised for her own romantic choices and preferences, while the ‘nice, intelligent, funny’ guy wallows in self-pity, often ditching the girl as a friend.
The Internet has begun to satirically attack ‘the friendzone’ over the past year. My personal favourite being;
“Friend-zoning guys is horrible. it is disgusting. Funzone them instead. Send them to a small childs park so they can cry with the other babies when they dont get what they want.”
I have to say, if it hadn’t been for this recent movement I would never have realised the damaging consequences of the friendzone. That said, these ideas are still yet to trickle down to the teenagers, the people that the perpetuation of these ideas affects the most.
As grown women, most of us know not to pay any attention to (as the Internet has dubbed) fuck boys, but the trouble lies in schools and with teenagers, where young girls are often under a huge amount of social pressure and can be easily guilted into giving the boy what he wants or face the price of being bullied heavily. Both outcomes teach girls that their own preferences aren’t as important as male preferences.
At age fifteen I was, admittedly, immature and not at all ready for a relationship. When a male friend of mine began spending more time with me I thought nothing of it until my friends rushed into school one morning and excitedly told me that (lets call him ‘Mike’) like-liked me and that I should date him. I was put under scrutiny for two days until I finally said ‘yes’. Why wouldn’t I date Mike? He’s really nice. He likes you! The relationship lasted a month and ended after the realisation that I clearly wasn’t actually interested. When it came to dating, my preferences were not deemed important by anyone, not even my friends. He liked me and he was ‘nice’. That was that.
So why is all this damaging to women? The concept leads to the troubling concept of ‘nice guys always finish last’. It turns women into an object whose only worth relies upon their sexual and romantic availability. It turns women into an object for boys and men to compete over. The concept of friendzoning undermines and devalues women’s rights to choose who they are romantically involved with and turns them into a villain for not choosing the ‘nice guy’ that befriended them. I hate to tell you all this, but if a man blames you when you affirm your friendship, then he probably isn’t a ‘nice guy’. If a man only befriends you with the intention of a romantic and/or sexual relationship, then he probably isn’t a ‘nice guy’. Whilst the friendzone turns girls into objects, it works very cleverly. The phrase ‘she friendzoned me’ turns girls into the subject and boys into the object. The misogynistic language turns the blame onto women, whilst the friendzone relies on the male’s attempt to change the relationship, usually out of the blue.
Ladies, we aren’t vending machines that men can put niceness into until sex falls out. Your choices are valid and most importantly your own.