Myshkin

"Friend Zone" as Rape Culture and the Alpha\Beta Dichotomy

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Didn't see the other thread before it got locked for going off topic, but it seemed there was still a lot of on topic stuff to unpack and discuss. 

Let's start with the idea of the "friend zone". It's a weird concept to me, and seems to propose the idea that friendship with someone you may be romantically interested in is not sustainable. It also seems to propose that friends cannot eventually become romantic partners. Neither of these things is true. Friendship and romantic involvement are not starkly divided "zones". You can be romantically interested in someone and still value their friendship for what it is. On the flip side, you can find yourself becoming romantically interested in someone you've known for years, and maybe even discover that they've become romantically interested in you. Or not. The point is that we as people are constantly changing, and the nature of our relationships change with us. 

Friend zone as rape culture. Listen, it's okay to be bummed that the person you're romantically interested in doesn't share the feeling. It's not okay to be mad at them because of it. If you're mad at them for not returning your feelings it means you think they wronged you, and the only way you could have be wronged in this situation is if you felt entitled to their interest. That type of entitlement is what is at the root of rape culture. It's really not a difficult concept to understand. From previous posts there seems to be some confusion as to what rape culture is. Rape culture is not the act of rape; it is the culture that excuses rape. And the feeling of entitlement to the affections or bodies of others is the basis for every excuse of rape. The vast majority of those who feel wronged for being "put in the friend zone" aren't going to go out and rape someone, but they are going to be the ones who make excuses for the people who do go out and rape someone. That's rape culture.

Alpha and beta males. This whole concept is complete bullshit. It takes the extremely complex idea of individual identity and boils it down to two ridiculously shallow archetypes. And those two archetypes are constructed around the ability, or lack thereof, to possess members of the opposite sex. The idea of alpha/beta males is both idiotic and gross, and its only function is to be used as an excuse for gross behavior. No, that's not entirely correct; it can also be used to con money out of morons.

So to sum up; the friend zone and the alpha/beta dichotomy aren't real, but the ideas of them both feed into rape culture, which most definitely is real.

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Posted (edited)

 Agree with the vast majority of that. I think much of that comes down to emotional maturity at the end of the day. Probably until I was in my mid-20s or so, I had issues with reading signals and dealing with rejection, so the friend zone was a real thing for me at least in my own head. Honestly the majority of my long term romantic relationships started as friendships. I think there is something to be said for having a foundation of respect and an attraction that goes beyond the physical.

Edited by Manhole Eunuchsbane

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1 hour ago, Myshkin said:

Didn't see the other thread before it got locked for going off topic, but it seemed there was still a lot of on topic stuff to unpack and discuss. 

Let's start with the idea of the "friend zone". It's a weird concept to me, and seems to propose the idea that friendship with someone you may be romantically interested in is not sustainable. It also seems to propose that friends cannot eventually become romantic partners. Neither of these things is true. Friendship and romantic involvement are not starkly divided "zones". You can be romantically interested in someone and still value their friendship for what it is. On the flip side, you can find yourself becoming romantically interested in someone you've known for years, and maybe even discover that they've become romantically interested in you. Or not. The point is that we as people are constantly changing, and the nature of our relationships change with us. 

Friend zone as rape culture. Listen, it's okay to be bummed that the person you're romantically interested in doesn't share the feeling. It's not okay to be mad at them because of it. If you're mad at them for not returning your feelings it means you think they wronged you, and the only way you could have be wronged in this situation is if you felt entitled to their interest. That type of entitlement is what is at the root of rape culture. It's really not a difficult concept to understand. From previous posts there seems to be some confusion as to what rape culture is. Rape culture is not the act of rape; it is the culture that excuses rape. And the feeling of entitlement to the affections or bodies of others is the basis for every excuse of rape. The vast majority of those who feel wronged for being "put in the friend zone" aren't going to go out and rape someone, but they are going to be the ones who make excuses for the people who do go out and rape someone. That's rape culture.

Alpha and beta males. This whole concept is complete bullshit. It takes the extremely complex idea of individual identity and boils it down to two ridiculously shallow archetypes. And those two archetypes are constructed around the ability, or lack thereof, to possess members of the opposite sex. The idea of alpha/beta males is both idiotic and gross, and its only function is to be used as an excuse for gross behavior. No, that's not entirely correct; it can also be used to con money out of morons.

So to sum up; the friend zone and the alpha/beta dichotomy aren't real, but the ideas of them both feed into rape culture, which most definitely is real.

Can we just pin this post? 

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Posted (edited)

While I agree with some of your observations, there do seem to be some leaps of reasoning. Being angry at someone for not returning feelings have more complex explanations than 'entitlement'. Whether you are male or female, it is easier to direct anger at the object of desire than, for instance, to recognize faults in yourself or the fact that people's emotional priorities differ from yours. Certainly, reducing the complex emotional register of human beings involved in love to 'entitlement' is inadequate (although to a certain degree true: but then love, whether returned or not, always contains a degree of selfishness, without necessitating condemnation). Anger is for instance a common response to not being considered adequate. While not denying that this can in extreme instances lead to rape, or to excuse rape, reducing all feelings of inadequacy or anger to participation in rape culture renders the concept meaningless by vilifying a thoroughly human response. At the very worst, you are condemning people who are already emotionally troubled (teenagers, sometimes defined) not only to burden rejection and inadequacy, but also to bear the blame for other people being raped.

The idea of friend-zoning in and of itself neither supports nor weakens rape culture. How we (as a society) handle the complex emotions associated with rejection, without either denying them, vilifying them, or celebrating them, is much more important than tarring the rather stupid neologism 'friend zoning' with rape.

/drunken rant

Edited by FalagarV2

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Falagar,

Fundamentally, there is no cause for anger over someone not being interested in you romantically.  When I was in my late teens early twenties I spent way too much time and energy bemoaning women who did not find me romantically interesting (whats really bad 20 years on is looking back and realizing there were great women who were interested that I just never noticed having your head stuck up your own ass will have that effect).  It is absolutely an "entitlement" issue. I believed I knew better than they did who they should choose, me obviously.  And that attitude is absolutely inappropriate.  I was wrong then and those who have that attitude today are just as wrong as I was.  

It is sexism because it presumes men know better than women.  It is rape culture because it seeks to claim that the unjustified anger is justified and excuses expressions of that anger.

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I can concede that anger in the moment of rejection* may be a visceral emotional response that can't be helped, but if the anger directed at the rejector persists after that moment passes then I stick by what I said; it's rooted in entitlement. If you're mad at someone for not giving you a thing you wanted but had no right to, then you're an entitled asshole. Like I said in my first post, it's okay to be bummed out about it, it's okay to feel pain over it, hell it's okay to be angry at yourself or the situation in general. It is not okay to direct your anger at the person who rejected you. It is not okay to blame them for the mere fact of rejecting you. To do so is to declare that you had a inborn right to their affection, which is the very definition of entitlement. And yes, we as humans have complex and not entirely controllable emotional responses to all sorts of things, but we also have the ability to use our intellect to reason through those responses. Those who choose not to use their intellect to examine their base emotions don't deserve our sympathies or excuses.

*Let's remember that in the case of "friend zoning" there is often never an actual moment of rejection; just a slowly building resentment toward another human being for not conforming to your desires.

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Posted (edited)

I agree with most of the OP as well, however Falagar has a point(ish) as well, somewhat.

Rape is never, ever excusable. 

Regarding Friend Zone -

In at least some of the cases I've seen of "friend zoning", it isn't just a "friends" deal, the women who is holding the power over the "zoned" man typically is getting something out of it, be it money, drugs, whatever, gratis, while doing everything in her arsenal to block the guy from having sexual interest or success in other women.  Whine, moan, do whatever you like, but if you haven't seen a similar situation, you're lying to yourself.  I do believe men and women can be friends, but it should be based on true friendship, if one person is using sexual attraction, even just the hope of some sort of encounter, in order to use the other person in some way - while this isn't as bad as rape obviously, it's still a very negative situation, and one that IMO puts the woman in these situations at higher risk of being raped. 

I helped run a large nightclub in Western Canada for a year, 1300 capacity, and with that you observe a lot of male/female interaction, at its worst many times.  "Friend zone" interactions were extremely focused in this particular environment.  One thing I took specific note of was the guys who never, ever got anywhere with our bartenders/servers/tub girls, but always, always spent piles of $ on trying to get somewhere.  "Gift guys" I would call them, always showing up with new jewelry, clothing, gift certs, all kinds of stupid crap - it was pathetic to watch.  For many reasons, not just the guys, but also the women accepting such gifts, while never once having any intention of dating/whatever any of the gift guys.  Isn't such behavior also a negative in society, not giving a firm "thanks, but not interested in you, or I have an SO already, etc", instead of taking what's offered, which is an obvious line in the water to test for possible future sexual possibilities from the man in the "zone"?  I realize this probably isn't the majority of women, or even a real major fraction, however it's significant enough that I've seen it repeated hundreds if not thousands of times in the last few decades.

Quote

*Let's remember that in the case of "friend zoning" there is often never an actual moment of rejection; just a slowly building resentment toward another human being for not conforming to your desires.

Agreed, however as I said, in some cases, that resentment may be partially built and/or increased due to the actions of the woman/man involved, in cases where said woman/man is using the friend zoned man/woman in various ways.  A woman(or man) who makes the decision to accept continual favors in exchange for their time and company with a note of possible sexual possibility in the air, isn't acting as a friend, and while in no way is responsible for any potential sexual assaults from their "suitor", it certainly adds risk, as well isn't a very kind way to treat somebody, using your sexual power over them in exchange for "stuff". 

Obviously I realize that rape and friend zone are two issues that while having some crossover, are far from one another on the spectrum of right and wrong.   I still feel it should be said that using people isn't a victim-less thing either.

Edited by SerHaHa

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I think maybe we're working with a nebulous definition of "friend zoning", and that's causing some confusion. To me the "friend zone" has always meant the relationship state someone might find themselves in after the person they're interested in has either rejected, or more often failed to responded to, their advances, but has made clear that they still want to be friends. The act of stringing someone along in the hopes of gaining something of value is something entirely different than friend zoning. And while we're on the topic, in the case of bartenders (or dancers, or camgirls, etc.) the relationship may never have been clearly and openly defined, but its nature is strongly implied. They flirt with you because that's their job, and if you don't see that, we'll that's on you. And to dig a bit deeper, the act of gift giving in a situation like the above described is often used as a means to create a feeling of debt in the gift receiver.

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Posted (edited)

On my way to bed here, so I don't have time for substantive response. I'll add some anectodal evidence, however: I have been gradually 'friend-zoned'. I have no lingering resentment about that, although of course it hurt somewhat (both viscerally at the moment of rejection, as well as in the following months, which prompted a lot of soul-searching - I was 19 or so). I never felt that I had any rights on - or even need of - the other persons sexuality, I had never really considered what it would be like to sleep with her. I had, however, 'decided' (unconsciously) that we fit together as persons (personalities, interests, humour, etc.), which caused much anguish: not because her rejection hurt my sexuality, but because it hurt my identity.  I might add that despite the anger I felt because of rejection (sometimes directed towards her, often towards myself) this person is one of my best friends today, ten years or so later. I have later also 'friend-zoned' women, and I think experienced similar reactons from them as I had myself.

The entitlement one feels, or rather: the confirmation one seeks, is seldom merely a question of sexuality or the right over someone else's body. It is woven together with what kind of person one wants to be. Thus, reducing 'friend-zoning' to a question of sexuality seems to me itself to be a reductionist, patriarchal move, which over-emphasizes the role of sex in human interaction. There may be some element of entitlement to another's body, more often, however, it seems to me to be one of defining oneself (which is why it is particularly prevalent among young people).

/drunk rant2

Edited by FalagarV2

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Quote

 

In at least some of the cases I've seen of "friend zoning", it isn't just a "friends" deal, the women who is holding the power over the "zoned" man typically is getting something out of it, be it money, drugs, whatever, gratis, while doing everything in her arsenal to block the guy from having sexual interest or success in other women.  Whine, moan, do whatever you like, but if you haven't seen a similar situation, you're lying to yourself.  I do believe men and women can be friends, but it should be based on true friendship, if one person is using sexual attraction, even just the hope of some sort of encounter, in order to use the other person in some way - while this isn't as bad as rape obviously, it's still a very negative situation, and one that IMO puts the woman in these situations at higher risk of being raped. 

 

This is certainly A Thing (but really not that common: I think working in a nightclub/pub environment has skewed the perspective there) but not really what was being discussed, which was where a guy is interested in a girl but she rejects his romantic interest and only wants to be friends. Where this is honestly approached - the guy abandons any hope of a romantic interest and remains friends - that's fine, but what is creepy/unacceptable is where the guy continues the friendship in the sole hope of the woman "seeing the light" and going out with him, and manipulates the friendship to that end (as the guy is essentially treating the woman as a object with a relationship or sex as the prize he can still win, rather than an individual). 

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Posted (edited)

I don't think anyone's reducing friend zoning to a question of sexuality. What I at least am doing is reducing a certain reaction to friend zoning to a question of entitlement. And not only entitlement over someone else's body, but more specifically entitlement over someone else's emotions. And I don't see why this should be a difficult concept to understand. It is not a question of sex; it's a question of ownership. Rape isn't about sex; it's about power and possession. If you direct your anger over being rejected toward the person who rejected you, then deep (or not so deep) down what you're really angry about is the fact that they would not conform to your desires. And if you feel that way then you're much more likely to find excuses for the people who force others to conform to their desires. That's how rape culture propagates.

Edited by Myshkin

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Anyone is entitled to desire romantic relationships with anyone they want, they are also entitled to whatever emotion they have as a result of rejection from a relationship. No one has any right to dictate your emotional responses. 

As far as I know "friend zone" has always meant like "Yeh I liked them but they said they just want to be friends". I don't think anyone thinks that it's a permanent or rigid state. In fact there's an old hacky stand up comedy bit about the friend zone where in the joke the woman puts a dude in the friend zone because she is just keeping him as an option in case she can't find any better guys.

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I have every right to judge you for your emotional responses. If your waiter tells you that they're all out of the salmon special and your emotional response is to yell at them, then I'm gonna think you're a jerk. If a judge tells Brock Turner that he only has to do six months for raping a woman and your emotional response is sympathy for a young man who has a promising athletic career in front of him, then I'm gonna think you're a piece of shit. If a girl tells you she's not interested in having a romantic relationship with you and your emotional response is to call her a bitch, then I'm gonna think you're an entitled asshole. In none of those case would I be dictating your emotional responses; I would be instead judging you for them. See the difference? 

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1 hour ago, Myshkin said:

I can concede that anger in the moment of rejection* may be a visceral emotional response that can't be helped, but if the anger directed at the rejector persists after that moment passes then I stick by what I said; it's rooted in entitlement. If you're mad at someone for not giving you a thing you wanted but had no right to, then you're an entitled asshole. Like I said in my first post, it's okay to be bummed out about it, it's okay to feel pain over it, hell it's okay to be angry at yourself or the situation in general. It is not okay to direct your anger at the person who rejected you. It is not okay to blame them for the mere fact of rejecting you. To do so is to declare that you had a inborn right to their affection, which is the very definition of entitlement. And yes, we as humans have complex and not entirely controllable emotional responses to all sorts of things, but we also have the ability to use our intellect to reason through those responses. Those who choose not to use their intellect to examine their base emotions don't deserve our sympathies or excuses.

*Let's remember that in the case of "friend zoning" there is often never an actual moment of rejection; just a slowly building resentment toward another human being for not conforming to your desires.

 

I don't know about the entitlement. Anger is a defense mechanism, and it's a normal reaction to disappointing situations, and it's okay to feel it as long as you need to as long as you're not hurting or lashing out. It's best to try and understand it's a defense mechanism for sadness, but it isn't always about entitlement. A lot of people don't want to feel the pain of rejection, and they cover it with anger. It's something to feel for a bit, but progressive society tends to judge how we feel too harshly. You feel it, you explore it, and when the sadness comes, it's okay to feel that too and recognize that is what you were likely trying to stave off--and the only real cure for sadness is to just get through it. 

I think it's dangerous to label certain emotions in specific contexts as always a negative/dangerous response. We're asking for repression of valid responses, and by doing that, you're asking for someone to experience the world as you experience it.

Rape culture, to me, as you defined it--seems fairly overt. People who defend or dismiss rape in our culture are pretty vocal about specific issues in our society right now. Really anything that has the word "feminism" in it will incite an eye-roll in the least. I know the Nice Guy syndrome could be a covert means that men perpetuate rape culture without realizing it--and I guess that ties in with your first post, but I really want to resist the idea that rejection and anger = entitlement. It feels too broad. Forgive me if I misunderstood your point though.

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52 minutes ago, Myshkin said:

I think maybe we're working with a nebulous definition of "friend zoning", and that's causing some confusion. To me the "friend zone" has always meant the relationship state someone might find themselves in after the person they're interested in has either rejected, or more often failed to responded to, their advances, but has made clear that they still want to be friends. The act of stringing someone along in the hopes of gaining something of value is something entirely different than friend zoning. And while we're on the topic, in the case of bartenders (or dancers, or camgirls, etc.) the relationship may never have been clearly and openly defined, but its nature is strongly implied. They flirt with you because that's their job, and if you don't see that, we'll that's on you. And to dig a bit deeper, the act of gift giving in a situation like the above described is often used as a means to create a feeling of debt in the gift receiver.

 

Ah, I see. I suppose that definition does make sense more than two friends and one develops feelings slowly. 

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You can judge all you want as long as you dont force me to agree with claims I don't agree with. I'm already not allowed to openly question any of the rest your claims in any way whatsoever so at least don't try to dictate what goes on inside someones own head, because yelling at someone is an action not an emotion.

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I understand anger as defense mechanism, but a lasting or abiding anger over a rejection isn't a defense mechanism, and shouldn't be normalized as such. And I think we need to really take a look at how we perceive "hurting someone". I mean that's kinda the whole point of discussing rape culture, as opposed to rape. We can't continue to just think about it in terms of, oh well this guy was mad at this girl for rejecting him, but he didn't go out and harass/beat/rape her, so it's okay. We have to start recognizing that a lot of guys are mad at a lot of girls for rejecting them, and that has played a part in creating a culture in which harassment/beating/rape are excused.

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10 minutes ago, DunderMifflin said:

You can judge all you want as long as you dont force me to agree with claims I don't agree with. I'm already not allowed to openly question any of the rest your claims in any way whatsoever so at least don't try to dictate what goes on inside someones own head, because yelling at someone is an action not an emotion.

Who's disallowing you from questioning any of my positions? Certainly not me. And I am utterly and completely incapable of "forcing" you to agree with anything, so I don't understand why that should be a fear of yours. I have never proposed dictating what goes on inside of anyone's head; but like I said, I reserve the right to judge them for their thoughts or emotions. And to clarify, yelling at someone is not an emotion, but the anger that drives you to yell at someone is.

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2 hours ago, Ser Scot A Ellison said:

Falagar,

Fundamentally, there is no cause for anger over someone not being interested in you romantically.  When I was in my late teens early twenties I spent way too much time and energy bemoaning women who did not find me romantically interesting (whats really bad 20 years on is looking back and realizing there were great women who were interested that I just never noticed having your head stuck up your own ass will have that effect).  It is absolutely an "entitlement" issue. I believed I knew better than they did who they should choose, me obviously.  And that attitude is absolutely inappropriate.  I was wrong then and those who have that attitude today are just as wrong as I was.  

It is sexism because it presumes men know better than women.  It is rape culture because it seeks to claim that the unjustified anger is justified and excuses expressions of that anger.

Scot, I just love you so much.  Here's a hug from me and a kiss for Mrs. Scot.

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