The friend zone. A dark, cold, unforgiving place, that I’ve once heard described as “the seventh level of hell”. It’s a term thats we use generously, an idea that has permanently embedded itself into society. There’s even a Wikipedia article about it.
Sure, the idea of the friend zone is all fun and games, until you really break down its origin and what the idea of the friend zone represents. The idea of the friend zone is the idea that a male figure essentially does nice things for his female companion, only to be shot down when his romantic and/or sexual pursuits are subsequently shot down. As one Urban Dictionary user puts it, it’s like “having all of the responsibilities of a boyfriend with none of the benefits”. It goes without saying, in this case, that the term benefits strictly implies actions of a romantic, and moreover, sexual nature. Never mind that being someone’s boyfriend also carries a number of benefits like companionship, trust, and mutual respect.
Proponents of the friend zone like to argue that it is unfair for guys to always be nice and not get anything in return. As if a girl owes a guy romantic/sexual favours because he did the right thing. This depiction of the relationship is a harmful idea to uphold, as it teaches men that the only reason they should be nice to a girl is so they might be able to have sex or start a relationship with them afterwards when all is said and done. Men will always claim that “nice guys finish last”, but are you really, truly a nice guy when the prospect of being nice is only appealing if you can reap a reward? A female friend serves as a companion, just as any other male friend would, and this should be the reward in and of itself. She does not owe you anything, other than her friendship, loyalty, and respect, which is conversely what you owe her as well. A woman’s duty is not to pay you in sexual favours if thats what you desire, and it is, dare I say it, mysogynistic, to expect her to do so.
Now while the idea of the friend zone does its fair share of disrespecting women, the men in this case should feel just as equally disrespected. It’s insulting to the general male population that this idea has caused them to be depicted as only focused on this one prospect. Not all men are like this. Not everyone expects this kind of relationship to grow out of a male-female friendship. But by associating yourself with the friend zone, you associate yourself with the kinds of men that do. If you are a man with female friends, you do not deserve to be depicted this way, and it is wrong of society to keep perpetrating this idea. You are not at fault, but the woman certainly isn’t either. Not to mention that the friend zone upholds traditional gender roles, and with a society that is moving towards greater equality and understanding for the LGBTQ community, the friend zone really has no reason to stick around.
When it comes to friendships, it’s a hard expectation to make that the dynamic shouldn’t change based on the gender of those involved, but it is fair. The friend zone should not be a place of expectations, blaming, and shaming. Instead, put all of your good friends in the friend zone and make it a place of understanding, respect, loyalty, trust, and companionship. Then it can become a place people actually want to be.
For more perspectives on the friend zone, watch this incredible poem by Dylan Garity.