Hey, Chicago readers: If you can make it up to Evanston this Monday, I’ll be giving a talk titled “Escape from the Planet of the Friend Zone,” exploring some of the mythology of this dreaded place. The talk, like my talk two years ago, will be part of Northwestern’s Annual Sex Week, sponsored by the College Feminists. (The talk itself is cosponsored by NU’s Men Against Rape and Sexual Assault.)
It’s at 7 PM in Kresge Hall 4365, which is on the Southern end of campus, near “the rock.” (Here’s a map.) If you’re taking the el, get off at the Foster stop and head east; then a little ways south when you hit campus. I’ll check about parking for non-students and provide details later.
The last time I gave a talk during Northwestern’s Sex Week, some MRAs got a little overexcited and started making up things about what they assumed my talk was about. (They were wrong.) So, just to make clear: I will not be teaching impressionable college students “how to have good sex,” except insofar as I will be talking about how sexist and self-defeating the concept of the Friend Zone is, which means it’s possible that some dude could attend the lecture and decide to stop whining about getting stuck in the Friend Zone, and thus improve his romantic and sexual prospects with that one simple step.
I haven’t finished writing the talk yet, so if any of you have any thoughts on the Friend Zone — or the closely related topic of the “nice guy” — let me know in the comments below.
I’m also curious about what role the concept of the Friend Zone plays in your everyday lives, so I’m going to spit out a bunch of questions that I may address in the talk and may ask the students as well. I’d be interested in your answers.
Have you ever been put in a situation that you or other people might describe as the Friend Zone? Whose fault do you think it was? Have you ever been accused of putting someone else in the Friend Zone? Did you find this insulting? Has someone else, through their own obsequiousness, put themselves in the Friend Zone with you?
Is the Friend Zone a male thing or are there a significant number of women and girls who find themselves friendzoned as well?
Does the notion of the Friend Zone grow out of male entitlement? Is it a fundamentally manipulative to try to pressure a woman into romance and sex? Or does it grow out of male awkwardness — the inherently difficult situation of shy or perhaps socially awkward guys who are still nonetheless expected to be the ones who pursue women rather than the other way around, as MRA types might argue?
When did the term start getting used? The concept is certainly not new, but I don’t think the term is that old. When did you all first start hearing it?
How can guys (or gals) get out of the Friend Zone?
Can a Friend Zone situation — by which I mean one in which one person is romantically interested and the other isn’t — be transformed into a real friendship, or will the different feelings/expectations of the two people make this impossible?
Alternately, can a Friend Zone situation turn into a real romance?
Is the Friend Zone really a useful concept at all? There are very few relationships — platonic, romantic or purely sexual — in which each partner feels the exact same way about the other. There are mismatches all the time. Shouldn’t we just learn to roll with it? Maybe the answer to the old When Harry Met Sally question — can a man be friends with a woman he’s attracted to? — is, “why the hell not?”