This is a guest column by Sex + Cookies 2.0, whose advisers include Feministe contributor Echo Zen and students who’ve been pushing sex-positivity since before Tumblr made it cool. We’re honoured to be Feministe’s first relationship vloggers. :-)
Welcome to Sex + Cookies, an advice column where we answer questions on sexual health and relationships, whilst mocking creepers, misogynists and their Republican Rape Caucus allies in Congress. Alright, time to dive into our next episode…
Of course, here’s a transcript…
Sex + Cookies 2.0 | Episode: “Friend Zones”
So, someone emailed this question to us…
“Nice first episode, but how can you talk about Nice Guys™ without mentioning the friend zone? You always hear guys complaining how they’ve been friendzoned by girls they want to date.”
Ah, yes, the friend zone, a.k.a. the worst hell on Earth for blokes who seek sex as a reward for being nice to women. Failure to receive female attention in return for being nice means you’ve been condemned to this friend zone.
The idea has become common enough that the Oxford Dictionary officially recognised the term in 2013. But as we’ve pointed out before, there’s nothing nice about believing that women owe you for being nice to them.
In simple words, Nice Guys™ primarily see women in terms of whether they’ll sleep with them or not.
This is the very definition of objectifying women, seeing them as commodities or prizes to be won. It’s also a core aspect of rape culture, or the belief that men are entitled to sex under certain circumstances. Rape culture is obvious when rape victims find themselves blamed for somehow causing others to violate them.
The friend zone is another manifestation. Men who do nice things for women supposedly deserve something in return, such as dates or sex or something. Women who refuse to deliver on this expectation are accused of being *****es, for not giving it up. Or they’re accused of being frigid or leading men on.
In a way, being attacked for not sleeping with a Nice Guy™ is the flip side of being slut-shamed. Sleep with too many men, and you’re a slut (according to Rush Limbaugh). Refuse to sleep with someone, and you’re a tease who won’t give up what men deserve from you.
Ultimately, the friend zone has no place in relationships where both parties respect each other’s desires and needs. If you think you’ve been friendzoned, think for a moment how your expectations may be turning people off.
In the end, you can’t compel people to be attracted to you, because that’s not how relationships work. You can only attract others without pressuring them, and that includes your friends.
As Feministe’s first vloggers, we’re not sure of the ideal format for these columns – and frankly Jill likely expects us to determine that ourselves, as sort-of pioneers. For now we’re thinking the first half should be the episode (since, y’know, that’s kind of important) and the second half will be commentary of our feelings behind the scenes, as feminist content creators…
If you saw the first episode, you can see this one got a visual revamp in response to everyone’s feedback. It was unexpected, since historically most videos on Feministe have netted only a dozen or so comments – we didn’t realise ours would receive 200, especially since no ninjas were involved. The feedback we got was thorough enough that we were able to make specific revisions in response – this is, after all, a community-powered project where each episode reflects ongoing input.*
And whilst the new layout is technically influenced by Swiss design – unobtrusiveness, white space, blah, blah, blah – we’ll go out on a limb and say that it also reflects feminist values, i.e. making content accessible to all, regardless of privilege. It’s easier now for people with disabilities to read/hear, gender-neutral in its palette (no patronising pink), and scalable down to viewers who lack computers and have to watch everything on their mobiles. That last point is something we observed from working with teens in lower-income neighbourhoods. Plus it’s now easier to close-caption in other languages for non-English speakers. If we’re being intersectional, we need to think of everything and everyone.
Ultimately though, the design serves the content. If it’s discreet enough that nobody notices or cares, we’ve done our job. That brings us to the content of this episode: friend zones. Did we cover everything relevant in less than three minutes? Was it useful to you? We mentioned in our previous column that we want these episodes to be tools you can share with friends, to avoid aggravating yourself with schooling them on consent myths or rape culture. Is this helping… or are you using these videos for another purpose we might be interested in knowing about?
Let us know what you think, and feel free to post questions below or submit one through our Tumblr. We’ll try putting out the next episode in two weeks!
* Special thanks to Jenna, Revolver, trees, Henry and tinfoil hattie