We’ve all heard plenty about the so-called “friend zone”, which is where a person you want to date, just wants to be friends, and somehow that’s unfair and bad and mean. Let me tell you about its converse, the Un-Friend Zone.
A while back at work, we got a new deskside support/IT guy. He quickly identified me as the person in the department to talk to, because I know what I’m doing – and what everybody else is doing – with computers (even if they don’t). We were going through a major hardware and software upgrade at the time, so IT Guy came around a lot. He and I would get to chatting while he was working, and we discovered we had lots of nerdy things in common. We really hit it off together. We started chatting over instant messaging when he wasn’t around in person, and he really brightened slow days for me – and I assume I did the same for him. I was happy because I don’t make friends easily, and yay, a new friend! It got to the point where I was considering asking Arb if I could invite him to join our tabletop roleplaying group, because I thought it would be fun to be outside-work friends as well as work-friends. I was positive it was strictly a platonic thing, because he was at least ten years younger than me, and I’m not conventionally attractive, and he never said anything remotely flirtatious and neither did I.
Then one day, I said the fateful words: “My husband…” The conversation faltered. (It’s not like I was keeping Arb a secret, just that I’m not one of those people who’s constantly all “My husband this…” and “My husband that…” and “Well my husband says…” to every opinion offered.)
He didn’t message me the next day like he usually did, so I messaged him. He was really terse. I messaged him again a couple days later, same thing. And the other IT guy started coming for all our deskside support calls.
Ladies and gentleman, behold the Un-Friend Zone: where you think you’re making a new friend, and the other person wants more than friendship, and then when it turns out you don’t feel that way about them, they drop you like a hot potato. Obviously there can be hurt feelings involved, and that could require some space to get over; I get that. But on this end of the stick it feels like it wasn’t worth spending time with me and getting to know me, if the payoff isn’t going to be a sexual/romantic relationship. And that’s crappy. (It’s not a gendered phenomenon either; Arb has had women do it to him as well.)
I don’t think I have an obligation to be constantly flashing a verbal neon sign that says MARRIED MARRIED MARRIED MARRIED, just in case somebody is attracted to me and I don’t realise it. On the other hand, I really object when the opening line from a stranger initiating conversation is an inquiry about my sexual availability. (and yes, this happened to me frequently before I aged/fatted out of the prime fuckability category) I don’t know what the solution is. But I wish people who are looking for mates, wouldn’t object to making platonic friends along the way.
I’ll treasure my special snowflake status as a special needs teacher until the teaching profession succumbs to the efficient robo-teachers of the future. :> I’m guessing that behavioural robot teachers will air-deploy Valium and whatever else is required to maintain the learning environment.
Seems like we have a bit of feminist theme going on here this week – quelle suprise! Harassment and how women and men are taught to exist in society. If we can edumacate a few dudes about the toxic patriarchal soup we all swim in the world will be a better place.
“A male friend of mine that develops AAA games told me, “When a woman criticizes me, it goes to a different part of my brain than when a man on my team does. I get defensive really quickly. I’m trying to get better about it.” I don’t think his is a unique experience.
We live in a society that’s sexist in ways it doesn’t understand. One of the consequences is that men are extremely sensitive to being criticized by women. I think it threatens them in a very primal way, and male privilege makes them feel free to lash out.
This is why women are socialized to carefully dance around these issues, disagreeing with men in an extremely gentle manner. Not because women are nicer creatures than men. But because our very survival can depend on it.”
Sooooo… experiences are different for women in the game industry who would of thunk? Might it be because women and men are socialized differently and are taught to respond differently to situations? Might one set of strategies be beholden to the other, thus reinforcing the disparity? Food for thought -
The highly quotable Margaret Atwood clarifies the idea:
“Men are afraid women will laugh at them. Women are afraid men will kill them.”
The tango that they dance in Argentina is a very, very different dance than you might see on Dancing with the Stars. It’s highly improvisational, and allows not only the leader, but also the follower, to make artistic decisions. Everything is communicated between the partners through physical contact, whether it’s a slight shift of the shared center of balance, or physically pushing with hands, feet, or legs. One guy that I taught tango to, who was into martial arts, commented that Argentine tango is very much like judo, except that the object is to NOT fall down.
Here are Miguel Angel Zotto and Milena Plebs dancing to “Gallo Ciego”, by Osvaldo Pugliese. By where they put little flourishes with their feet, you can tell they’re very familiar with this particular recording of this particular song, but the steps they do together could all be communicated with lead and follow, no need for pre-planned choreography.
One particularly interesting thing about Argentine tango is that because of its origins in a time and place where men significantly outnumbered available women, there’s also a tradition of men dancing with men, without any gay connotation to it – not that gay guys don’t dance tango together nowadays and make it very, very homoerotic. Here are brothers Enrique and Guillermo De Fazio, dancing a milonga – a country dance that was one of the precursors of tango. It uses many of the same steps as tango, but goes a whole heck of a lot faster. Because they do break apart a fair amount, some of this performance probably had to be pre-choreographed. Note how every once in a while they’ll trade who’s leading and who’s following. Enjoy the hot guy-on-guy milonga action!
Because tango music is in four beats per measure, you can actually dance it to any music that’s in a multiple of four. Here, a fan has taken an Argentine tango video, and redubbed it with VNV Nation (the band I introduced you to last week), and it works. In “real life” it’s hard to dance tango to industrial music, because when you go to venues where they play industrial music, you usually wear big, stompy boots, and they tend to be too grippy to spin well.
Part of the reason why feminist analysis is such a valuable tool is that FA deconstructs and identifies the constructed norms of society and rightly points out how craptacular said norms are for women.
So, dudes, a glimpse into the faux-egalitarian society you’ve created and learn the implied lesson of “don’t be that guy” – thanks in advance for being a better person.
Oh, hey did you need more evidence of the power imbalance in society? Take a look at the comments section and count how many responses with the motif : If you dress a certain way you are asking for it.
How reading ytube comments makes me feel:
Fascinating don’t you think?
Consider the neat way this dovetails into how relationships in our society are structured and the expectations placed upon those who are male and those who are female.
Pro-tip: The deformed cup or one that isn’t complete without the other is where you should start your
discussion blaming. :)