In Defense of the Use of the Term “Friendzone”
Only recently did I become aware of “The Nice Guys of Okcupid” tumblr. At NGoOKC, online dating profiles of self-proclaimed nice guys are posted along with their responses to various questions (e.g., “Do you feel there are any circumstances in which a person is obligated to have sex with you?” and “Is a girl who’s slept with 100 guys a bad person?”) which make them seem like the total opposite of nice. To be clear, at best these men do not know the difference between being nice and being good and at worst these men are just ignorant hypocrites. While I have qualms with social media shaming sites like this one (and the culture of web shaming, overall), one of my biggest issues here has less to do with the purpose and content of NGoOKC and more to do with appropriation into the dbag lexicon of a perfectly acceptable and useful term: friendzone.
The admin of the “nice guys” site suggests that friendzoning is a term used by “nice guys” who feel women owe them something in return for their so-called friendship. The admin clarifies: “They [“nice guys”] can’t see being a friend as a good thing, so they refer to it as being ‘friendzoned’ in a negative context. They treat the whole time they spent with the woman as a waste. Needless to say, the whole theory is sexist, misogynist and dehumanises women. Anybody who uses the term seriously is an idiot.”
I do not find friendzone theory, as the admin calls it, to be inherently sexist. I espouse a more neutral use of the term friendzone. Some psychologists, like Dr. Jeremy Nicholson, would describe the friendzone as a situation in which one individual’s feelings and expectations are different than the other individual’s feelings and expectations, such that the relationship stays a “friendship” and never anything more.