I will be giving a talk at Northwestern on Monday on the Mythology of the Friend Zone

The exquisite pain of the Friend Zone.

The exquisite pain of the Friend Zone.

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?”

 

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Posted on April 4, 2014, in announcements, beta males, friend zone, nice guys and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. 370 Comments.

  1. It must be maddening to be disproven so much.

    Ironic sentence of the day.

  2. … do people think that (at least in the US), a sexual assault happening every two minutes is nothing or something? What the flying fuck?

  3. Can someone call the banhammer down on this guy? That was just GROSS.

    Seconding. I’ve emailed the Dark Lord.

  4. That whole screed and he never even said what grade he was in :(

  5. Did anyone notice the inconsistency of his poor spelling? It seems to have suddenly improved somewhat in that latest wall of text.

    Sock?

  6. I’m kind of proud of myself actually since no other poster has illicited this level of anger.

    Simon, you rank arrogant amateur, we’re not angry. You wouldn’t like us when we’re angry.

    You aren’t even on the list of rage-inducing trolls, so don’t flatter yourself, cupcake.

  7. The only reason our genetics haven’t degraded to extreme levels is because of the immortality enzyme we men keep in our nut sack.

    This needs to be a meme.

  8. Trolly doesn’t know the difference between contempt and anger. I am shocked, shocked I say.

    Trolly is also the sort of loser who thinks he’s special if he can make people angry. Pathetic.

  9. Yes, there is a biologist boobzer in the house. Well, and a mathematics boobzer. I like keeping busy.

    Simon, it’s called a telomerase. As in, something that goes backwards and fills in the telomers that get cut off in cellular division.

    Guess what? Telomerases are not solely found in the place you so crudely described. Telomerases are expressed in pretty much all stem cells during embryonic development, of guys and girls both.

    Also, the reason they are expressed in your testes more than in somatic cells is pretty straightforward. Your testes have cells, that divide, a LOT. Even with telomerases, though, mental disorders like schizophrenia have been somewhat linked to the age of the father.

    Studies on that are still in progress.

    Studies saying whether telomerases really are an “immortality enzyme” are still in progress. Oddly enough, some of the longest lived animals have the shortest telomeres, so telomeres being the be all and end all of aging is under question.

    Give science another few decades.

    Guy genetics are not superior to girl genetics. They’re just different flavors of human. By different flavors of human, I mean the difference is one little tiny chromosome, with a little tiny gene that (in humans) is called SRY.

    Interestingly enough, in chickens, the sex chromosomes are backwards. Hens have the itty-bitty one. Most birds are that way. Some reptiles don’t even have genetic determination of gender, and instead gender in influenced by the temperature at which the eggs incubate.

    Nature so totally is not based in absolutes. You are mistaking biology and genetics for introductory physics.

    They aren’t. Taxonomy changes every few years. Genetics is so new, that the people over in molecular genetics are squeaking about something new and cool all the time.

    Fun fact: Two ladies got the Nobel Prize for telomerases.
    Next Fun Fact: Saying nasty things about rape is uncool, and makes me doubt your claims to be a good person in search of truth.

    I’m going off the idea that you heard about biostuff from a dorky news outlet (which always, always draw incorrect conclusions) and then wikipedia-d it, like a freshman. If you want convince me otherwise, post a detailed citation of the paper on telomerases from your database, with a short summary of what you took away from it. I’ll look it up in my database of peer reviewed wonderfulness, and report on whether you fail at reading bio papers or not.

    Simon, if you don’t have an article in your next link, then just don’t comment.

    Maybe the ferrets in the cat suits in the David suit will take care of that for us.

  10. are femminists really so self obsessed that they think anyone would even want to rape them?

    And Simon is now banned.

  11. Thanks, David.

  12. That just… That… Ah.. But the biology… genetics. I…

    Okay. Deep breath.

    Two things. No, three things.

    1)

    This enzyme negates the Heyflick limit and causes cells to replicate endlessly without degredation…in a perfect world that is.

    That really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really

    is not how telomerase works.

    Like, at all.

    That’s not even close to how that works. It’s strictly speaking true that the testes contain a fairly large amount of telomerase enzyme, and that this has interesting effects in relation to chromosonal decay and telomere attrition, but the exact interaction let alone presence in the human body at large, let alone the specifics genetic mechanics that interacts with senescence, apoptosis and general carcinogenic factors is very, very different from “Oh yeah, man juice in the nut sack leads to immortality”.

    This is like foursidedtriangles topographical algebra again. “In a curved topological plane there’s no rule saying you can’t have a foursidedtriangle!” I was making a joke.

    You studied and worked with physics? You seem… smart. I beg of you, I beg of you, please stick to physics if this is your understanding of cellular genetics.

    I’m trying to come up with an apt way of translating that… but it’s like… It’s…

    “Hello Mr. Engineer, welcome!”
    “Hello. What do you need to me to do?”
    “We want you to build a project. Can you draw a red line?”
    “Yes, certainly”
    “Excellent. Our specifications tell us that the “Red Line” should also be drawn in green ink the shape of a cat”
    “Errh”

    That’s stolen from a online joke thing. With an engineer in a board meeting?

    Look, maybe contrapangloss can explain it better. I only ever took a couple of advanced courses of biology and neurology.

    ( I cheated, and totally hit refresh, and I noticed contrapangloss explain it better THAT DAMN NINJA)

    2)

    , I believe, and in no order of significance, are: reductio ad absurdum, genetic fallacy, chronological fallacy, red herring and straw man…which seems like most of them actually…all rolled into one.

    I’ll cop to reductio ad absurdum, the origin fallacy, a ton of red herrings and a few strawmen. But you’ll find my temporal mechanics to sound, Mr Physics Grad Sir. I know my casuality and I know my temporal mechanics. I have permitted no chronological bungles!

    3)

    ? Did you ever once consider that it is not a definition that makes something so, but the people who created it and their behavior. Absolutes are the beauty of nature…talk about being blind in an art museum. Definitions only create awareness of existing phenomena they do not create them. Actions my dear sir or madam are what create them…that and the all powerful fabric. We cannot speak things into existence.

    But that’s a lie.

    We’re humans. We can speak things into existence.
    I do believe in fairies, I do, I do!

    You speak things into existence all the time, like the backwards moral assumptions encased in the questions you ask:

    so we rent out our bodies to what amounts to a sexy dry cleaners?

    the best you can come up with is a criticism of my refrence to coal mining?

    Where are the brave souls who want to criticize the dead soldiers?

    Where are the brave souls who want to question genetic science and mathmatically sound assesments of the current human genome?

    Where are those brilliant men who would argue that life on the hangar isn’t so bad and that they would do it themselves in a heart beat?

    That makes you angry doesn’t it?

    It must be maddening to be disproven so much. Isn’t scoffing at everything a bit tiring?

    With irrational tantrums, lashing out at what they don’t or are unwilling to understand?


    …and are femminists really so self obsessed that they think anyone would even want to rape them?

    I’m tedius??!!!?!! I’ve been introducing new stuff all day. I don’t even try to make it sound convoluted either. And I’ve done all of this while only being sort of sarcastic and at most mildly insulting. And I’m the illiterate one?!?! I read, process and formulate opinions based on facts and somehow I’m illiterate!?!?!


    I don’t ask questions because I fear being manipulated I ask questions to know the truth

    … Heh.

    I think I’m done with this conversation now. Have a lovely life.

    How’s everyone else doing? I rode a motorcycle for the first time yesterday. That was terrifying for the first five minutes. Fun after that. Hope everyone else has had good times recently :)

  13. Ninja’d really well, too. Huzzah for biology boobzers. And chemistry boobzers. And knitting boobzers. And economics boobzers. And mathematical boobzers. And programming boobzers.

    Just hurray for boobzers in general.

    Also you, lurker, reading this. You’re probably nice. Pat yourself on the back.

  14. RE: contrapangloss

    Some reptiles don’t even have genetic determination of gender, and instead gender in influenced by the temperature at which the eggs incubate.

    Oh hey, I read a fantasy novel that actually utilized some of that! I suddenly feel pleased to realize it had some basis (however faint and fantastical) in reality!

    RE: David

    THANK YOU. Rape trolls I find particularly repugnant.

    RE: Kittehs

    I know, right? Every little pissant troll here seems to think they’re the second coming. They haven’t seen the MRAL saga, or Tom Martin, or hell, even Antz.

  15. LBT – or Abnoy. Urgh.

    Thanks, David!

  16. How’s everyone else doing? I rode a motorcycle for the first time yesterday. That was terrifying for the first five minutes. Fun after that. Hope everyone else has had good times recently

    Sounds fun! Stay safe and wear your leathers.

  17. You did better than my first time driving one of those things, Fibinachi. It was just a moped, and I STILL almost careened into a garage door within the first thirty seconds.

    That said I still had fun and got the knack of it once I was off the curb.

  18. contrapangloss

    Some reptiles don’t even have genetic determination of gender, and instead gender in influenced by the temperature at which the eggs incubate.

    We chicken keepers of the Practical Poultry Forum reckon that temperature during incubation (or possibly conception/egg formation) influences gender as we’ve noticed a correlation between the weather and proprtions of chicks male to female. I’d be fascinated to know if it’s been investigated scientifically.

  19. I think the thread is done, but Ive though a lot about it. I think some people have asked honest questions that I have tried to answer. I feel like my thinking has changed in response to posting here.

    I think Jo Cools assessment of friendzone is great as well. Although I hate to guess about distribution, I have thought back about it, and I think it is what friendzoning refers to most often.

    But if there were no confusion, there would be no thread.

    That said, and in response to @ Kim, I feel there is a cultural space in which it is “ok” or hard to diagnose whether females can/are knowingly manipulating the promise or actuality of relationship/courtship with the boundaries of friendship. Yes, the examples others have provided are examples of men manipulating women for money and gifts. I see a difference. I cant explain it, but I think the proof is that it seems far more obvious a line between good and bad than what I am trying to describe.

    I think that being subjected to what I am trying to refer to once or twice may also skew someone’s perspective in subsequent relationships. I hope that people understand that what I am talking about is much different from what Jo Cool is saying. I also leave it open that there are many blurred cases in between.

    I read the examples about men manipulating women for money and gifts, but I feel like that is not socially acceptable at all. Neither do I think that sidling up to a friend passive-aggressively, and being nice until she likes you is socially acceptable. It seems equally dishonest about intentions.

    I may still be a jerk but I have thought a lot about this thanks to this thread.

    Apologies to @weirdwood for any appearance of being disingenuous.

    @ Kim, I don’t know how to disentangle biological causes from others e.g. cultural or environmental. Even the strongest work in psychology regarding twin studies has met a lot well-founded resistance.

    I also feel that my experience may be different from the people who populate a social justice blog. Maybe all I am doing in the end is setting a little addendum to the majority picture, or the picture here. Maybe it worries me that all the blame is put solely on disingenuous, or idiotic nice guys. There may be another contributor in some instances.

  20. Titianblue! Just noticed your post.

    Chickens have WZ genetic sex determination, similar to all birds. Thus, they don’t have sex determination based on incubation temperature. I wasn’t able to dig up anything on chickens, per-say, but there is differential hatching of chicks due to temperature in bush-turkeys!

    I don’t think it’s behind a paywall, so here’s a link to that study. I’m in a library so the paywall might just be hidden.

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1629050/

    Just in case: they found that at higher temperatures, more females hatched. At lower temps, more males hatched. At temperatures typical of the normal brooding temp, the sex ratio was equal.

    Basically, higher temps killed off more male eggs, so they didn’t hatch, even though they were fertilized, initially. Lower temps killed off more female eggs.

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