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Just in case you were not clear on what the friend zone is. Many thanks to Angels and Angles for the definition.
“When you are expected to support a girl you really like while she searches for a smarter, richer, and more handsome boyfriend. There is little you can do without feeling like a dick. All in all, one of the meanest things a girl can do, whether they mean it or not.”
and ”The perennial location of nice guys everywhere.”
Although this hypothetical situation could work both ways, friendzone is almost always applied to a man who is rejected by a woman. Therefore, there is something inherently unequal, something inherently sexist about the term “friendzone”. But what and why?
From my experience, this is what friend zone is. A “nice guy” pursues a woman, but isn’t forward with his intentions from the get-go like, say, a “jerk”. The woman is pleased to see a man who is interested in her not as a sexual object but as a human being and wishes for things to stay that way. The man is not satisfied with seeing the woman as a human being because being “expected to support a girl” is a bad deal if she’s not putting out.
Before I delve into the sociological aspects of this, I just want to point out that ”friendzone” is no more pleasant for a woman than it is a man. First, that is to say unrequited love works both ways, but the person who doesn’t return affections is considered mean only when she’s a woman. And second, what option does the woman have in a traditional “friendzone” situation? Just stop talking to a close friend to avoid “leading him on”? In high school, I found out my best friend of 2 years liked me. Having to tell him I didn’t feel the same way and being immediately ex-communicated via Facebook status (“Thanks for wasting my time”) was one of the worst things that ever happened to me. Were our two years of friendship invalid because I didn’t want anything more? Was all our time together really wasted because there was no hypothetical pay off?
Guys who do this and claim to be “nice guys” are the worst misogynists because of their sense of entitlement toward a woman. They make investments in property and expect their dividends. They are fake friends. They are selfish. And they will jump at the chance to vilify you and victimize themselves when their attempts at manipulation don’t work. Clearly, “friendzone” is the remnant of a phenomenon that has plagued women since the beginning of time: women are not independent creatures. Our love lives exist only in the context of a man’s desire. When we make independent decisions, we are subject to a host of derogatory terms. “Slut” is how we vilify a woman for exercising her right to say “yes”. “Friendzone” is how we vilify a woman for exercising her right to say “no”
The first step to understanding privilege is recognizing the various forms and flavours it comes in. If you happen to be Asian and female, well, the fun(?) doubles as you get to deal with not only the misogyny, but the racism as well. Woo-haa! (Go to the tumblr Creepy White Guys for more examples.)
Just a few snippets of what women have to deal with:
Browsing my news feed I found this piece and decided it was scary enough to share with everyone. I think I’d like to read Papantonio’s book and see what she has to say. Here is a radio dealing with her premise and some related information from Raw Story.
“In her book, Papantonio explained, Jacobs found that more than 40 percent of Americans under the age of 44 did not read a single book over the course of the previous year. And their concentration had deteriorated to the point that politicians needed to condense their messages into 8-second soundbytes to grab their attention, leading her to conclude that the country was now “ill with a powerful mutant strain of intertwined ignorance, anti-rationalism and anti-intellectualism,” compounded by schools’ increased emphasis on passing standardized tests instead of comprehensive education on subjects like civics and humanities.
“Chances are, if you are one of those corporate media-following bone heads who still believe that weapons of mass destruction were found in Iraq, or Saddam Hussein blew up the Twin Towers, or Obama is a secret Muslim, or Obama wants to take your guns, or Obama has FEMA prison camps set up for Teabag Republicans, then search no further,” said Papantonio, who is also president of the National Trial Lawyer Association. “You truly are the undereducated, child-like, impressionable, irrational, dangerous cog in America’s political system that puts Democracy most at risk.”
Potentially scary stuff. This is the first I’ve heard of “ring of fire” radio broadcasting, so do take it with a grain of salt.
Popularity? Posting “too much” on the feminism tag? Do I give two shits? Things don’t change if people don’t know about it, so off we go – a few things that feminism is actually fighting for. Oh and go read the whole post on “If I Admit That “Hating Men” is a Thing, Will You Stop Turing It Into A Self-Fulfilling Prophecy?”.
(ed. Italics mine for highlighting the theme of what feminism is actually fighting.)
Feminists do not like commercials in which bumbling dads mess up the laundry and competent wives have to bustle in and fix it. The assumption that women are naturally better housekeepers is part of patriarchy.
Feminists do not want you to have to make alimony payments. Alimony is set up to combat the fact that women have been historically expected to prioritize domestic duties over professional goals, thus minimizing their earning potential if their “traditional” marriages end. The assumption that wives should make babies instead of money is part of patriarchy.
Feminists do not want anyone to get raped in prison. Permissiveness and jokes about prison rape are part of rape culture, which is part of patriarchy.
Feminists do not want anyone to be falsely accused of rape. False rape accusations discredit rape victims, which reinforces rape culture, which is part of patriarchy.
Feminists do not want you to be lonely and we do not hate “nice guys.” The idea that certain people are inherently more valuable than other people because of superficial physical attributes is part of patriarchy.
Feminists do not want you to have to pay for dinner. We want the opportunity to achieve financial success on par with men in any field we choose (and are qualified for), and the fact that we currently don’t is part of patriarchy. The idea that men should coddle and provide for women, and/or purchase their affections in romantic contexts, is condescending and damaging and part of patriarchy.
Feminists do not want you to be maimed or killed in industrial accidents, or toil in coal mines while we do cushy secretarial work and various yarn-themed activities. The fact that women have long been shut out of dangerous industrial jobs (by men, by the way) is part of patriarchy.
Feminists do not want you to commit suicide. Any pressures and expectations that lower the quality of life of either gender are part of patriarchy. The fact that depression is characterized as an effeminate weakness, making men less likely to seek treatment, is part of patriarchy.
Feminists do not want you to be viewed with suspicion when you take your child to the park (men frequently insist that this is a serious issue, so I will take them at their word). The assumption that men are insatiable sexual animals, combined with the idea that it’s unnatural for men to care for children, is part of patriarchy.
Feminists do not want you to be drafted and then die in a war while we stay home and iron stuff. The idea that women are too weak to fight or too delicate to function in a military setting is part of patriarchy.
Feminists do not want women to escape prosecution on legitimate domestic violence charges, nor do we want men to be ridiculed for being raped or abused. The idea that women are naturally gentle and compliant and that victimhood is inherently feminine is part of patriarchy.”
Usually by screwing up in a spectacular fashion. Search your memories (Luke) and I bet you can find a lesson painfully learned, but painfully learned well in your past.
Fast forward to school and the increasing focus on tests and testing. Everyone wants to do well on the tests, but how does photocopying facts improve your critical thinking? It doesn’t. Lawrence Davidson in Scientific American comments on the lack of critical thinking skills being taught in school:
“Informal learning environments tolerate failure better than schools. Perhaps many teachers have too little time to allow students to form and pursue their own questions and too much ground to cover in the curriculum and for standardized tests. But people must acquire this skill somewhere. Our society depends on them being able to make critical decisions, about their own medical treatment, say, or what we must do about global energy needs and demands. For that, we have a robust informal learning system that eschews grades, takes all comers, and is available even on holidays and weekends.”
So, you want people to who can think, you need to take them to environments where it is okay to ask questions and more importantly, it is okay to fail, because learning to constructively fail is one of the cornerstones of rational inquiry.
On the experience of women in society:
“Like most women, I currently live in a society where violence, harassment and scary shit can break out at any moment, just because I told some random asshole “no” without bothering to be nice about it. Doing that is so dangerous that most women don’t dare; after a few scary incidents, they learn to make up excuses, to smile, to be sweet and welcoming, to act as if every single random asshole on the street is a precious new friend that they would just LOVE to stand outside of the Chipotle and chat with FOR HOURS, if only cruel fate had not intervened. That’s what it’s actually like, being a woman: Playing nice with every random asshole, because this random asshole might be the one who hurts you. And then, if he hurts you anyway, they’ll tell you that you led him on.“
And of course, some basic facts about sexism and mansplaining from tigerbeatdown (and the above quote as well).
It’s a dude appropriating feminism in order to silence women who identify things as sexist. Here’s how it works:
- BASIC FACT #1: Sexism is, on its most basic level, the privileging of men over women. It’s more complex than this, of course, because gender is more complex than “men” and “women” in the first place, and we do live in kyriarchy, so not every man experiences male privilege in the exact same ways. But, basically, sexism goes, “man/manliness = good, woman/womanliness = not so good.”
- BASIC FACT #2: All women have a better chance of understanding sexism than cisgender men do. This is because women are targeted by sexism, in their day-to-day lives, whereas cis men have spent their entire lives being socialized not to see the ways in which they perpetrate or benefit from sexism. Again: It’s more complicated than this, because gender is more complicated than this. But all women have experienced sexism, whereas only some men have; women can learn about sexism from both lived experience and study, whereas cis men primarily have to study and work toward a level of self-awareness that the culture simply doesn’t support. Non-gender example: If I want to know more about the food at Momofuku, I can read the Momofuku cookbook, but that won’t make me David Chang. In fact, reading the cookbook won’t even really teach me what the food tastes like; to know that, I have to eat there. Lived experience is knowledge; if you can’t have the lived experience, you can’t have total knowledge of the subject. That is a very basic part of How Shit Works.
- THE COMPLICATION: Where man=good and woman=not so good, men are presumed to always be smarter than women, no matter what the subject at hand is. Hence the phenomenon of Mansplaining, in which a woman — no matter what her credentials, intelligence, or base of knowledge may be — can automatically be cast as ignorant and treated as such by a man, who assumes Real Expert status he does not actually possess. When it comes to Mansplaining sexism, the problems of the man’s credentials as compared to the woman’s are immediately apparent to anyone who gets How Shit Works.
- AND YET: The odds are high that, at some point in his life, a man will hear a woman identify something as sexist, and that he’s not going to like it. Perhaps it is something that makes him feel particularly defensive, such as his favorite book series, or his personal actions. What can he do? Well, he can Mansplain. He can use the powers of the man=smart, woman=less smart assumption to explain away her perceptions and thoughts, by casting himself as the One True Expert on this matter.
- COMPLICATION #2: But the matter at hand is sexism! And this gentleman fancies himself an enlightened sort! He’s not the sort of mansplainer who mansplains sexism away without caring whether or not he looks sexist in the process. He’s got to convince people that he just knows more about sexism than a woman does, in spite of all the evidence and basic logic pointing to the contrary, while still retaining his Liberal Dude Credits. “How can I achieve this impossible thing?” The man wonders, more or less unconsciously. “Perhaps if I… EXPLAINED MY SUPERIOR UNDERSTANDING OF FEMINISM????? Yes, that should do it!” And so the nightmare begins.
And so the MRAs have found yet another woman to hate.
Earlier this month, as many of you no doubt know, a Men’s Rights group sponsored a lecture at the University of Toronto. The event drew protesters, and the protesters drew MRAs with video cameras. One of the MRAs filmed a confrontation between a red-haired feminist activist and a number of MRAs who continually interrupted her as she tried to read a brief statement.