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Thursday, 21 December 2017

Friendzone or Subzone? Femdom, Feminism and One-Way Romances

Friendzone. The classic description is something like this:
He provides emotional support, platonic companionship, helps her out with practical things, once tidied her apartment so she could host a party, gives her lifts in his car. One time he came into town specially just to rescue her when she got herself into a state. Sometimes she falls asleep on him while they watch TV together. She appreciates his friendship, doesn't have sex with him, but dates other guys...
Gosh, darn, doesn't that sound awfully familiar from a zillion Femdom blogs? Let me help you out by adding some more text:
He provides emotional support, platonic companionship, helps her out with practical things while she sits around in a silk robe doing her nails. Often he cross-dresses as a French maid and tidies her apartment. She keeps him focused by directing the action with a whip. He gives her lifts in his car when she goes on dates. One time he came into town specially just to rescue her when she got herself into a state. Sometimes she falls asleep on him while they watch TV together. If the show gets her horny, she has him go down on her. She appreciates his friendship  service , doesn't have sex with him, and holds the key to his chastity device. She dates other guys but if he's lucky he gets to clean up after. 
Seriously... DUH!

OK back up a bit.

The term Friendzone describes a real phenomenon I noticed well before it had a name.
However, the surrounding male-entitlement culture is unpleasant, let's call it a One-Way Romance (OWR), which is also a more accurate term.

The basic OWR is a situation in which you experience "unrequited love for somebody who regards you as a close friend". It's easy to go there when you're young and inexperienced. Thanks to patriarchy, he may read her culturally-mandated gentle rejection as a "maybe" or - worse - "playing hard to get", and then later succumb to male entitlement and feel cheated.

If that's your situation, you should do as Cara Sutra says and grow the hell up. Value and preserve the friendship but move on romantically. (It was Cara Sutra's great article that got me thinking about this.) You should also consider ceasing to profess friendship as a way of putting off the scary moment where you open your heart and make yourself vulnerable.

We can hope that, by empowering people to communicate clearly and by removing entitlement, Feminism will consign this kind of OWR to the dustbin of history.

However, it's not always that simple. How could it be?

What about people who keep getting themselves into an OWR? Or the ones who stay there for months and years? I've been there, and I've observed it with both men and women, but let's focus on the man-in-friendzone scenario.

If a man keeps putting himself in the same uncomfortable situation, or gets stuck there, isn't that usually because on some level that's where he wants to be? Aren't we really seeing vanilla Femdom hidden in plain sight?

To me, the full blown long-term version of the OWR is just the natural hazard of having an unacknowledged submissive streak, of being a Champion rather than a Commander.

The loud complaining is disingenuous, just the vanilla version of malesub tears:
"Wah wah look at the demeaning situation I'm in that however turns me on so much hang on I have to go and jerk off..."
What about the women?

For the OWR relationship to be stable, both partners must want to be there. What's in it for her?

I think it's also disingenuous to insist that adult women are never aware of men orbiting them since (a) the idea is really common, and (b) most people have enough emotional intelligence to read all those non-verbal cues. They're not evil exploiters. Most take the quite correct attitude, "He knows the score but seems happy to do stuff for me so why not?" (Or, "LOL men are silly.")

But why? Why put up with a man hanging around like an overgrown Labrador puppy? Surely his presence makes it harder to strike up a real romance?

Control.

Even now in the 21st century, there's a sense that women give up control when they enter a committed relationship and can no longer ration out their sexual favours.

Most women - most people! - want a measure of control. Those near the Commander end of my Champion-Commander spectrum - need it. Keeping a devoted man orbiting in the OWR while dating elsewhere seems pretty much the perfect solution to this.

I don't think Feminism alone will make this go away, though it may make men feel better about doing the orbiting. Women who need control will still balk at entering a peer relationship.

I do think that what both OWR partners really need is a way to have a hierarchical relationship that is sexual and probably monogamous (not necessarily with each other, though.)

We'll only really see the back of One-Way Romances - the Friendzone, if you must - when Female Led Relationships (or Male Led, if the other way around!) are mainstream enough for people to go looking for them explicitly.

Unfortunately, that means tackling the elephant in the room: that not everybody wants or needs an equal relationship.


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