The watchword of lonely males and frustrated platonic partners has run its course, as ‘friendzone’ should no longer be used, and it’s up to men to do it. This recently minted word simply refers to the position a man feels he has been put in after a woman he is sexually interested in has turned him down. A man wants to have sex or have a girlfriend and the female wants neither, preferring to be friends. Perhaps it was initially quirky or awkward, with pop culture long being a haven for this type of scenario, even if the exact term isn’t used, but it’s not anymore—it’s harmful.
Whether it’s used in an aggressive manner to shrug off a woman’s desires or casually tossed around in conversation subconsciously, there are consequences that need to be examined and understood. It’s time to get eliminate from our lexicon the incendiary, sexist term ‘friendzone,’ the banner held up by those confused and rejected, who would serve both women and themselves better by doing rid of this way of thinking.
Language is Important
Beyond simply shifting attitudes, words are in fact important and do hurt. Language reflects cultural and societal beliefs, and it’s not hard to find certain words relating to gender, sexual preferences, and race that have disappeared over the last few decades as we come to better understand what they mean and imply (the Washington professional football team notwithstanding).
As we learn and decide not to use them, we can encourage others to do the same. Conversely, continuing to use such words make them commonplace; if we believe it is a word that shouldn’t be used, then it’s continued presence further cements its negative connotations. It takes everyone to work together.
It’s a Cop Out
The notion of the ‘friendzone’ implies that the woman bears all the responsibility, and is thus somehow to blame. She has made a decision and the male disagrees, and that action gets twisted and spun around in the man’s head, consciously or unconsciously, to make it seem like he is the victim and she is the culprit. There is no culprit, and there is no victim, and that leads to the next reason why this word is harmful.
You’re Not Owed Anything
This can’t be stressed enough: the woman does not owe the man anything, especially sex. Having a lovely conversation with a woman, going out for drinks, or meeting at a bar randomly and getting on does not mean the man in the situation now deserves something at the end of the night. Relationships are based on expressed, understood expectations, verbal consent, and honest communication, and it’s more than unfair to the woman for the man to instantly presume sex or the existence of a budding romance.
Friendzone isn’t Friendship
The curious thing is that someone who professes to be in the ‘friendzone’ probably isn’t that good of friends with the person. That’s because should feelings of resentment and frustration continue, it’s toxic and doesn’t say much for one’s thoughts of the woman. If a woman wants to be your friend and you accept that, but the friendship proceeds with feelings of bitterness, it’s entirely meaningless. It says you’re just interested in sex and biding time.
It Hinders Healthy Emotion
And it’s fine to be solely interested in sex, just as it okay to be intently seeking any specific sort of relationship. ‘Friendzone’ isn’t the quest, though, it’s the immature reaction. Just the same, it’s okay to be sad; it’s fine to get aggravated when someone doesn’t reciprocate feelings, but what is important is how those emotions are expressed. Sometimes people just aren’t interested, the timing is off, and it doesn’t click—no one needs to be attacked. Being clear with one’s intentions and being honest with emotions is how ‘friendzone’ can disappear from our way of thinking.
It should go, because ultimately, ignoring a woman’s decision and attributing your own loss or rejection to the follies of a female brain is entirely sexist. Declaring you have been ‘friendzoned’ means that instead of accepting the present, you accept that the woman has made a mistake, when she has done nothing of the sort. It’s a guilt-laden term meant to soften the blow of rejection that serves no healthy purpose.
It matters not if a man is intentionally using the word to attack another or simply falling back on a term that’s so prevalent. Either case, for the reasons mentioned, it needs to go. Life is full of ups and downs when it comes to relationships, and ‘friendzone’ doesn’t help, it only hurts.
Anthony Marcusa is a Toronto-based freelance journalist whose writing dabbles in film, TV, music, sports, and relationships – though not necessarily in that order. He’s simultaneously youthfully idealistic and curmudgeonly cynical. You can follow him on Twitter @MrAnthonyWrites
Photo courtesy of flickr.