What is a woman? Put simply, a woman is a person. A woman is not a commodity, or an object, or a set of orifices. A woman, as a person, has feelings, aspirations and rights. This information isn’t new or shocking.
Theoretically, in this day and age, we can all have sex with whomever we chose, however many times we want. But how far is this really the case, in practice? While we might believe we have total sexual liberation, underneath this perceived liberation bubbles a mess of slut-shaming, judgement, the degradation that comes with lad culture. Back in the 1700s, there was a lot of worrying that a new libertarian attitude to sex (which basically encouraged lots of carefree, no-strings-attached sex for the fun of it) would make the act of sex some kind of austere, emotionless sort of economic contract. Lots of blokes with a lot of time on their hands wrote poems in which their sperm was symbolic of a kind of currency, and pleasure was talked about in terms of a debt owed. Three hundred years on, as sites such as Unilad rate girls on a scale of one to ten, giving out ‘lad points’ to boys who can score the most shags, it’s easy to see that, in some aspects of our culture, in some way, sex has become this kind of economic contract in which a guy is told he should be out for gain. What exactly are we made to believe is ‘owed’ to us, in terms of sex? I find it difficult to believe that many people would claim that they are owed, or entitled to, another person.
Yet this sense of entitlement pervades our culture. It’s often insidious and subtle, going by unnoticed. It can manifest itself in a whole host of ways; in an offhand comment, even, from someone you consider to be a friend. The brilliant Laci Green commented on the media coverage of the recent Isla Vista shootings in a recent Youtube video. The shooter, Elliot Rodger, was constantly depicted as a madman, unstable, haunted, disturbed. No one disputes that Rodger likely had mental health issues. Yet a whole conversation is left out of this discussion of his motives; his misogyny. In his chilling Youtube video, ‘Retribution’, Rodger claimed that he wanted to kill every ‘stuck-up blonde slut’ who did not show or reciprocate an interest in him. Rodger observed the uni culture around him; he saw people having lots of sex with lots of people, and felt angry that he was not a part of it. He felt entitled to sex as though the promise of it had been written in the prospectus as part of his course; an inevitable and expected part of going to university.
Rodger’s example is an extreme one, but the fact remains that there are far, far too many men that feel that they are entitled to a woman in some way. Little, seemingly innocent things contribute to this culture. Most of my teenage life, I’ve had a hard time pin-pointing why exactly I hate the phrase ‘friend zone’ so much, until I realised that it perpetuates this idea of entitlement that is so poisonous. Picture this: two men that would consider themselves normal, nice guys having a conversation. Guy A says to Guy B; ‘hey, so did you sleep with that girl yet?’ to which Guy B replies ‘ah, afraid not pal. She went and friend-zoned me’. Now Guy B isn’t a mass-murderer with a vengeance against the women that he believed spurned him. But the term ‘friend zone’ implies that the girl in question in some way owes Guy B more than friendship. That if said girl rejects Guy B’s advances, he has a right to be indignant, even angry about it.
Shit happens – sometimes, people don’t like you the way you like them and that’s just life. No one person owes another person sex. I have been told, and have seen other women be told, that they have ‘friend zoned’ someone and ‘led him on’. I’ve heard the phrase ‘cock-tease’ more times that I care to count. I felt a real sense of guilt and remember thinking well, I had flirted with that person a few times… maybe I did owe them something more? Nope, not even close. I would advise that if you want to have sex with someone who isn’t interested, understand that they have a right not to be interested, accept it, get yourself some comfort food and wallow for a bit, then move on. If you feel that you really have feelings for someone, and thought things were going somewhere until that person suddenly turned around and said ‘actually, we’re just friends’, then surely it’s better to have a proper conversation with them like intelligent, rational human beings about the way that you feel, giving them the chance to explain their side/clear up any miscommunication, instead of alienating and shaming them, vilifying them as the cold-hearted slut who ‘friend-zoned’ you, (ironically) ruining your chances of ever being their friend, let alone their anything-else? (If I sound bitter, it’s because I’m speaking from experience).
If things like Robin Thicke’s Blurred Lines tell men that they can expect sex from women whether she says yes or not because they just know she wants it, while the University of Kent’s disgusting ‘Someone Will Lose Their Friends’ poster advertising their annual Party in the Car Park tells men that they can expect to have sex with drunk, willing girls at uni parties as though it’s included in the ticket price, then it is all our duties to rise above this culture of entitlement – we don’t have to buy into it. Long gone are the days when women were legally the property of men. In no sense is a woman the property of a man. I can’t stress the importance of the message I think we all have to take from Elliot Rodger’s horrific crimes; this idea of entitlement and the concept of a ‘friend-zone’ are both poisonous and dangerous things. A woman’s lack of interest comes from her ability to make her own decisions and have her own opinions as a person. It cannot and should not be viewed as some kind of debt unpaid.