On Kinda, Sorta, Maybe Finally Getting Why Women Hate The Term “The Friend Zone”

it starts early

It starts early

From sharing an experience with it to giving men a few tips on staying out of it, there are few subjects I’ve touched on as often as the concept of the friend zone. Although I did “invent” a term to describe what happens when women are caught in it, most of this discussion has been, if not male-centric, told from a decidedly male perspective. And, when you talk about the friend zone from a decidedly male perspective, it makes women out to be manipulative, conniving, cock-teasing assholes. (Which some are. But, that’s another topic for another day.)

Considering that I am, in fact, a man, this is somewhat understandable. Since women are generally considered to be the ones deciding to damn someone to the friend zone—and since this seems to happen much more often to men than it does with women—they (women) have the “power,” and it made no sense for the powerless (men) to even consider empathizing with them. Whenever I’d hear a woman lament the loss of a friendship she “thought she had” with a guy who turned out to be crushing on her, I’d offer her a candlelight solo with the world’s smallest violin. (The name of the song? Boo f*cking hoo, Bitch Pt. 2)

This all changed yesterday, and I can thank MTV for that.

I was upstairs eating watermelon when the Gay Reindeer called me to watch this show she just turned to. I pretend not to hear her, hoping she’d lose interest and make some eggs or something, but she called my name again. This time, too loud for me to pretend.

As I walked into the living room, she explained the premise. It was a reality show about people with secret crushes on close friends. Naturally, it’s called Friendzone. The segment I watched featured a guy (“Jake”) who had fallen in love with his homegirl (“Jane”). He never shared any of this with her, though. Instead, he told her about this girl (“Kim”) he met over the internet and developed strong feelings for. He was soon going to meet Kim in person for the first time, but since he was so nervous, he wanted Jane to come with him. She agreed.

Fast-forward a couple days. As Jake and Jane wait at the date spot for Kim, Jake drops the bomb. Kim doesn’t really exist. All those feelings he expressed for Kim a few days ago were actually his feelings for Jane.

After hearing this news, Jane made a face I have never seen a human person actually make. She looked like she wanted to crawl inside of her own mouth. And, after seeing that face, I kinda, sorta, maybe finally got it.

Now, I don’t know how close Jack and Jane really are. But, let’s assume they were sincerely BFFs. And, if they’re sincerely BFFs, I kinda, sorta, maybe get how Jane—and any other woman—could be pissed about the love bomb.

First, it is a stealth form of emotional terrorism. Sweet? Possibly. But, definitely stealth. You’re basically forcing someone to immediately acknowledge, access, and respond to a feeling you’ve been stewing for years. It’s like getting a 9th grader out of bed at 3:30am and telling him he’s taking the SATs right now. 

Most importantly, while we (men) might think “I like you so much that I want to add f*cking to our friendship” would be flattering, I kinda, sorta, maybe finally get how it could be deflating. Why? Well, she’s likely hearing “I thought you were my friend. Now you’re telling me you were just waiting for an opportunity to f*ck me? I thought you actually liked me.” Now, this isn’t always true. Sometimes, the guy legitimately values the friendship, and just happened to catch feelings. But, more often than not, while he may “like” her, the like is somewhat based on the condition that she’ll eventually fall for (or f*ck) him.

Also, the term “the friend zone” does kinda, sorta imply that there’s something fundamentally wrong with just being a woman’s friend. Obviously, it may not be the type of relationship a man wants. But, something as rare and valuable as a friend probably shouldn’t be thought of with a negative connotation.

Jack eventually learned his feelings were unrequited. Which, as any man who’s ever made that type of confession knows, sucks. We all know this already, though. Movies have been produced, books have been written, and songs have been created because of it.

Most of that content tends to leave out one tiny detail, though:

It sucks for her, too.

—Damon Young (aka “The Champ”)

Ask A Very Smart Brotha: Should Men Have Any Reproductive Rights?

pregnant-black-woman

***I originally answered this question in my weekly Madame Noire column yesterday, but I thought the topic was so interesting that I decided to expand on the answer and post it here.***

Hey Damon,

The other day my friends and I were watching this show about adoption and in this particular episode, this couple, who’ve been dating for a year, accidentally get pregnant. The woman, who already has a child, wants to keep the baby, but also understands that her boyfriend has said explicitly over and over again, even before she got pregnant, that he never wanted children. And would inevitably resent a child if he were to ever have one. The woman ended up giving the child up for adoption, reluctantly at first and then in the follow up, she’d made peace with her decision.

The whole thing was upsetting to watch because it was clear that the woman wanted to keep the baby but only if the man wanted to keep the child as well. But it also made me consider the lack of rights most men have when it comes to parenthood. Are there so many absentee fathers because men who never wanted to be fathers just couldn’t and still can’t see themselves being responsible and present for their children? Conventionally, we’re told if a woman gets pregnant that it’s completely her choice whether she decides to have the child or not. Ultimately it is but, as a man, what role or say do you think men should have in all of this?

—Forced Fatherhood

Dear Forced Fatherhood,

Damn. This wasn’t exactly a soup question. I’m going to answer this the best I can. But, before I begin, I will also say that there are people much smarter than me who study, read, and write about this particular issue much more often than I do, and after reading this, I’d research their thoughts and opinions about this as well.

Questions like this bring to light how culturally unbalanced our concept of child-rearing tends to be. While men are socially expected to be active and loving fathers, we’re also socialized to believe that a tiny bit of sperm is our only meaningful contribution to this entire process. Think about it: If men and women are supposed to join forces to raise children together, why are little girls the only ones “allowed” to play with baby dolls? Why aren’t teen boys encouraged to consider babysitting as a source of practical experience (and extra income) the same way teen girls are? Why don’t we throw baby showers for men?

I know these questions seem silly, but they only seem silly because we’ve been taught it’s a silly idea for little boys to play with dolls and have any type of experience handling and taking care of babies…which is a silly thing to be taught.

Anyway, the question of pregnancy rights is one where the right, socially accepted answer—that women have complete say over whether a child will or will not be born—has some inherent “wrongness” to it. As mentioned earlier, both men and women have to collaborate to create a baby. So, logically—even considering the fact that women have to carry—a man should have equal say on whether to keep it.

But, in this case, that particular wrong of a man not having any say is better than any alternative solution.

Yes it’s “unfair” that men don’t have any legal say on the decision to keep a baby, especially since he will be legally obligated to provide for that child for the next 18 years. But this “unfairness” is for the greater good.

If you allow men to have legal say over whether a woman can keep a baby, you’re restricting her legal right to have complete dominion over her body.

And, if you don’t hold men responsible for children they helped create—basically, if you allow men to legally opt out before the child is born—it would ultimately hurt the baby. Also, think of how messy this could be legally. What’s to stop a man who “agreed” to care and provide for the baby when it was conceived to say “Um, nevermind.” three months into term? And, what’s to stop him from changing his mind again once the baby is born?

Basically, the “wrongness” of men having no say in that process is less wrong than what would happen if men did.

Also, I wouldn’t blame the prevalence of absentee fathers on this issue. Yes, people — men and women — need to make smarter sexual choices. There is no such thing as an “accidental” pregnancy, especially when their are multiple effective means of birth control—including the pull out method. (Yes. The pull out method works. It only doesn’t work when you…don’t pull out.)

But while I’m willingly to concede that some men do get “trapped,” most who selfishly skirt their responsibilities do it because…they’re selfish and irresponsible. The pregnancy rights laws and some “lying-ass woman” didn’t jam them up. Their own penises did.

The best solution to all of this is to be in a committed relationship where both parties are on the same page about children, and both parties respect and consider each other’s opinions. Even then, the woman still has the final say. Yes, its unfair, but there’s a small device that goes a very long way to prevent that unfairness from ever happening:

Condoms.

—Damon Young (aka “The Champ”)

Who Pays For The 51st Date?

"You're not fooling anyone. I know you just wanted to "take a romantic walk" cause you don't wanna spend any money."

“You’re not fooling anyone. I know you just wanted to “take a romantic walk” cause you don’t wanna spend any money.”

We’ve all heard the story.

Boy approaches Girl while at annual Delta Sigma Theta “Twerk For The Cure” sickle-cell research fundraiser. Girl, slightly impressed by Boy’s confidence despite his quite conspicuous reverse widow’s peak, gives Boy her actual real phone number. Four days later, Boy and Girl go on first date at Irish/Cajun fusion tapas bar. Date goes extremely well. Boy covers tab for this date, as well as the next three Boy and Girl go on. By the fifth date, Girl offers to cook for Boy—a Bougie Black Girl’s way of saying “We go together now, and I’m officially open to the idea of f*cking you.”

Boy and Girl go on a few more good dates—all on Boy’s dime—while both becoming more and more convinced that this is will turn into a relationship.

It does. They officially make it Facebook official eight weeks after the first date. 

I know it’s not the most politically correct and/or progressive thing to say that there’s a “right” or “wrong” way to court, but the scenario above—where the man foots the bill for the majority (not all, but the majority) of the dates that take place while courting—is the right way to do things. If you disagree, that’s fine. You’re wrong, but you’re allowed to be.

(Yes, I understand that many of these types of “rules” were crafted at a time when it was just more practical and financially prudent for a man to always pay while in the courting phase. I also understand that it may not make much logical sense for a man to be expected to pay even if the person he’s dating makes more money than he does. But…well, there is no but. Just shut the f*ck up and f*cking do it.) 

But, while the rules and the general financial responsibility of courtship are generally understood and agreed upon, what happens when courtship ends? Basically, we all know who is supposed to pay for the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd date, but what about the 51st, 52nd, and 53rd? Is there a “right” way to handle the bill when an established couple is out to eat or any other date-like activity?

In theory, this seems like a question with a pretty practical solution. If you’re a serious couple, you’re likely sharing expenses. And, if you’re sharing expenses, you should—in theory—also share date expenses. But, as anyone who saw After Earth last weekend will remind you, just because something should work in theory doesn’t mean it actually will.

There are people who believe the courting dynamic should last for the entire relationship. Basically, aside from his birthday and those rare and random days when she finally apologizes for some bullshit that she’s always done—and, despite the apology, will continue to do—the man should always pay. Others believe that couples should take turns, which, although this seems to be the most reasonable choice, can get weird if someone starts keeping count (and someone always does).

And, while splitting things 50/50 is the best idea in theory, who wants to be 40 years old and still going on dutch dates with your wife?

I guess the best thing to do is just to communicate your financial expectations before the “real” relationship starts instead of assuming that you’ll both be on the same page. But, while this also works “in theory,” I just can’t see too many women with the balls to interrupt a conversation on a date with “You know this shit’s on you for the next 50 years, right?” while happily clutching a forkful of lobster.

My advice? Just don’t date Deltas.

***BTW, today is Panama’s birthday and shit. So, if you see him today, buy him a shot. If you don’t see him and see me instead, just buy me the shot and we’ll drink in his honor***

—Damon Young (aka “The Champ”)

Things I Think I’d Hate About Men If I Were A Woman (Which I’m Totally Not)

Beat the p*ssy up beat the p*ssy up. Like bam bam bam bam bam.

Beat the p*ssy up beat the p*ssy up. Like bam bam bam bam bam.

“Don’t bring no whips and chains to bed with me. I wasn’t a slave, but I heard about it. I watched Roots about seven or eight times: I’m liable to have a flashback and choke the hell out of somebody.” – Don “D.C.” Curry

I’ve never been a woman. I know this may be a surprise to some of you but I checked with my parents and everything. Nope, I was never of the boob. So since I was never a woman nearly all information that I have about the fairer sex comes second hand from sisters, mothers, aunties, etc. Having an inordinate amount of all the above has afforded me a sometimes more intimate than desired look, or at least insight, into how frustrating life can be for a woman. From the man standpoint, aside from the tiny sexism thing, being a woman looks like it rocks.

There’s free dinner. You can call somebody to kill bugs and nobody bats an eye. You never have to take trash out once you’re in a relationship. If you’re pretty, people like you more. It seems like 95 percent of television is catered to you and there’s an entire lineup of shows dedicated to women killing men and anybody who watches them totally understands.

See? All of that up there? Advantage women.

Even though being a woman clearly rocks, nothing that rocks does so without issue. And from where I’m sitting, it seems that the thing that probably makes being a woman rock less than it totes could – aside from that whole menstruation thing which is women’s fault – would be some of the things that men do. Before the men release the hounds and go all medieval on my arse, let me explain. Being a man allows us a certain amount of inconsiderateness. Ultimately, we pretty much do what we want and smoke crack in the bathroom on a lark. While every man isn’t a douche, many of us play them on television. Conversely, all women aren’t saints. These are all facts.

Well one of the things that I think many of us fail to properly do is truly attempt to place ourselves in the shoes of the other sex. I’m pretty sure folks call that empathy or something. I honestly don’t know. I suck at empathy. However, I’m going to put on my “if i were a woman” hat and based on the men I know and the life I’ve led ponder about some things that I’m pretty sure I’d hate if I were a woman.

Such as…

1. Male insecurity

I’m a guy and I hate male insecurity, but I almost can’t fathom what its like to deal with it head on as a woman. For instance, you meet a guy, you all hit it off well, then he starts questioning why you’d go out of hte house wearing certain clothing. Clothing, mind you, that he was okay with when he met you. Or a guy wondering if you’ve dated “men of name” before and judging you based on it. See, I hate it when folks take out their issues on me. So I can’t imagine how it must feel to be a woman and have a dude question you about something that clearly is his issue. Unless you leave the house looking like a ho on your way to Ocho Cinco’s house. Then again, I probably MET you at Ocho Cinco’s house looking like a ho, so thats more than likely on me. Yeech.

2. Obscene cat calls

I know there are “Stop Street Harassment” campaigns and I’m sure they’re working exactly like you think they are. But awareness is never a bad thing. To that end, I’ve seen guys make THE most obscene and ignorant comments to women walking by. I’m sure its not so bad for women a few times as long as no lines are crossed, but it seems like men, we like crossing lines. Again, not all of us…but those dudes who cross the lines step all over that line, do the “typewriter” hit a “tootsie roll” then backflip and spit on it. I’ve actually heard a man (not one I knew) yell to this woman that he wanted to put his d*ck in her lightskinned ear and that she knew she wanted that to.

(To be fair, I’ve been manhandled by a woman that I’m pretty sure didn’t know she was a lesbian yet. I’ve always been slim so in high school this chick, “Nancy” grabbed me up and hugged me like a toy doll and dragged me to her next destination. That made me feel like less of a man and I hated every minute of it. I thought she was going to stick me in her vagina and keep me there for a rainy day. That never happened but it felt possible. “Nancy” is gay now.)

3. Having to be “strong enough to let a man be a man”

I get it. I’m a man. I appreciate when my woman knows to let me be the man. But geesh that has to be annoying sometimes. Or maybe its not. I have no clue how women feel about that. But I can imagine sometimes feeling like “f*ck” I could totally build this IKEA boudoir in 10 minutes and this dude is over here struggling with the Allen wrench. By the way, DAMN YOU ALLEN WRENCHES OF THE WORLD.

4. Having my face licked in a club by anybody, Kappa or not

I’ve seen this happen with my own two eyes to somebody who used to (and presumably still does on occasion) frequent VSB. Some dude trapped her, then licked her face. In the club. Just because. If I never saw that, I’d think it was a myth like men refusing to ask for directions (something I have no problem doing). But that’s just nasty. On the contrary, I also witnessed a man suck on a friend of mine’s toes in the club and she was totally okay with it. Buddy also had baby oil on deck. The most important lesson here (as with anywhere): know your audience.

5. Double standards

Goes both ways, but I figured if I didn’t mention it, folks would ALL immediately go with double standards as something that sucks.

So let’s have fun people and play some role reversal. For the men, what do you think you’d hate most about men if you were a woman and women, what do you think you’d hate most about women if you were a man?

3…2…1…contact. Go.

-VSB P aka THE ARSONIST aka MR. LADY SINGS THE BLUES LIKE A DAMN G aka GIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIRL HE A 3

How To Please Your Mate And Sh*t

"I'm sorry. I don't know why I can't stop farting. I think it's that coconut water."

“I’m sorry. I don’t know why I can’t stop farting. I think it’s that coconut water.”

1. Make decisions for him.

“Her planning an entire day with me knowing nothing about it. As someone who makes majority of the decisions this would be nice.”

2. Give him compliments.

“i think you look sexy when you clean the gutters….”

“Have you seen your butt when you take out the trash?”

“I love it when you can open jars.”

“my girlfriend called me handsome 3 months ago and it still makes me feel like a stud.”

3. Wash him.

“Trust me, it will wash the stress away, relax his mind, fill him with amazing thoughts, and fill him with deep appreciation.”

4. Provide him with sustenance.

“A DVD of Blazing Saddles and a BBQ chicken pizza.”

“I once said I want a caprisun when my girlfriend came home from a girls night. Now she brings one everytime. I guess remembering little things is what makes me feel great about her.”

“random Nestle Crunch”

“case of beer and a bag of potato chips.”

“Tacos. Like, I want to have a Saturday where we’re driving to the mall or something, and suddenly she pulls out a whole tray of tacos from under the seat and is all like ‘SUPRISE! TACOS’ and then we would eat tacos.”

“Muffins. Delicious home made muffins.”

“Chocolate cake and a bottle of whiskey.”

These quotes are from Jezebel’s The Foolproof Reddit Guide to Pleasing Your Mana collection of responses to a woman who wanted to do something nice for her boyfriend, and turned to AskReddit for men’s advice. As you can see, the quotes ran from the surprisingly mundane to the hilariously specific. (I’m not even a huge fan of tacos, but a taco surprise date would be one of the three best things that ever happened to me.)

Yet, they each had a common theme: Simple

I know it’s a stereotype that men are these walking, talking, and bleching tunnel-visioned nincompoops who don’t need more than pancakes and random dusk fellatio to keep us happy, but this is generally true. Somewhat misleading—these simple ways to make men happy only work if he’s already generally happy with the woman he’s with—but still true.

You know what else is true? Women are simple too. Yeah, yeah, yeah. I know. Women are complex and difficult and bipolar and unique and moody and volatile and nuanced and special and blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. But, when it comes to putting a smile on a woman’s face, I think we (men) have a tendency to forget that they love the same things we do (sex, occasional silence, surprise tacos, etc), but the path to mutual happiness could be as simple as “You hit the snooze button on her alarm this morning so she wouldn’t have to reach over you and do it. She’ll now be able to sleep 14 minutes longer than she usually does. This made her happy, morning happiness makes her horny, and now she’ll want to f*ck you.”

Anyway people of VSB, I’m curious. What little and “simple” things can your significant other do (or not do) to put a smile on your face? 

-–Damon Young (aka “The Champ”)