How The Term “The Friend Zone” Perpetuates Rape Culture & Sexism

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There’s no such thing as the friend zone. Yeah, I said it, and it’s probably about time we stopped using it as an excuse for not getting what we want. Really, the ‘friend zone’ is a socially constructed coping mechanism used primarily by men to make their female counterparts feel guilty about rejecting them. It’s essentially a cushion, used to soften the blow to the rejected party’s ego.

Believe it or not, the phrase was first coined in 1994 by much loved sitcom ‘Friends‘. You remember- Joey dubbed Ross the “mayor of the friend zone”. While seemingly gender-neutral, the ‘friend zone’ is undoubtedly sexist. The phrase is programming society to believe that basic human decency entitles you to attention and affection from women. It is allowing men to penalize the women who reject their interested in them and totally stands against the idea that women are equal.

It’s ok to like someone and not be attracted to them- I like Karen in the HR department but I don’t want to rip her clothes off. It should never be apparent that a person – woman or man – has to apologise for their naivety in thinking that they could keep platonic friends. Yes, I (along with almost every other woman) have been found “guilty” of not being attracted to men who were attracted to me and really wanted me to return their feelings. As much as you may want to, you can’t force yourself to feel attracted to anyone. Regardless of how many other wonderful qualities your friend may have, without attraction, there is no relationship – and that’s totally ok. I guess finding out you’ve been ‘friend zoned’ is a similar discovery to unveiling that someone you valued as a person and friend, really only wanted to get you into bed. Friendship is a relationship to be eternally grateful for. And yet we are portraying it as a punishment rather than a privilege.

Rejection is awful – I get it. It hurts when someone doesn’t like you back. But no one owes you anything; no one is obligated to give you what you want. Sure, sex is a human need, but it is not something you have a right to and again, will never be owed it. They either like you, or they don’t. And that’s life. That is what dating and being single is all about. When you tell someone how you feel and they yay or nay you, you have your answer. An answer that should be accepted and respected.

I can’t be the only one growing tired of ‘nice guys’ complaining about being friend zoned by a woman. If you’ve abandoned your friendship with someone as a result of their wish to remain platonic, and proceed to complain that she friend zoned you because women are never interested in dating nice guys, then you just aren’t a nice guy. And FYI- being a ‘nice guy’ doesn’t entitle you to sex. Nothing does. Ever. If you didn’t get what you wanted, learn from your mistakes and try again. Minus the shaming of innocent women, of course.

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