It’s easy to understand why guys are frustrated when they find themselves in the situation that “friendzone” describes, though. Nothing about watching while someone you’d like to be dating goes out with other people is pleasant, and it’s even harder when you share enough emotional intimacy with that person for them to talk about their other relationships with you. Lots of people have been there — I certainly have — and it sucks. It’s really no way to live.
The way you end up in that situation, though, is by building that intimacy under false pretenses, which is where the “nice guys” go wrong. It’s understandable why they do it: From a distance, being direct looks a lot like being rude, and being confident looks a lot like being cocky and self-obsessed. Rudeness and self-involvement are not traits that nice guys (or “nice guys”) want to possess, so maintaining a self-image as a “nice guy” involves being indirect and not displaying confidence outwardly.
I remembered the term from that Chris Rock bit years ago, but I hadn’t realized that it had taken on a memetic life until the Nice Guys Of OKCupid Tumblr launched and all of these dudes used the word in their angry rants. (I’m well familiar with the “nice guy” angry rant, though.) It never stops surprising me how people can take something said in jest and make it a very serious matter of INJUSTICE, which is how this all comes across.
There are a lot of very legitimate critiques of the entitlement that goes into even viewing the “friendzone” as a punishment, but I mostly didn’t make them here.
I am very cautious not to go into woman-centric spaces like The Frisky, xoJane, etc, and attempt to explain feminism or gender relations to women. When you have a piece or two that goes viral, though, you get those opportunities. I’m working with The Frisky because they were recommended to me by a friend that I trust, and because my editor there was really interested in having me contribute the sort of thing that a woman wouldn’t have had the experiences to write about effectively.
I have opinions about the gender roles in Django Unchained, for example, but there are obviously countless women who are better equipped to write about them than I am. (If I want to write about that stuff, that’s what this blog is for.)
So with this piece, I wanted to write something directly to the dudes who think of themselves as Nice Guys, and I wanted to have some empathy for the fear of vulnerability that dudes are socialized to feel. Because that’s a product of the same oppressive culture that treats women like shit. Basically, I have the luxury of not having an extremely personal stake in this sort of thing, so I wanted to approach the issue with a generosity that my privilege affords me. I’m really curious if that’s a place where a dude writing about feminism-based topics can be effective.
It might not be! In the meantime, I’m really glad that The Frisky is giving me the chance to find out like this, and we’ll see how it all ends up. Give it a read, if you’re so inclined.