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You’ve just crossed over into the friendzone

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The splash zone is fun to be in, “The Twilight Zone” is fun to watch, and the subduction zone is something I’m sure natural science students love to learn about. But the zone that no one likes, the zone that makes people cringe, the zone that screams GET OUT is that of (drum roll please) … the friendzone.

We all know what this is. It’s the time when you ask someone if they want to see a movie and they reply with “who else is coming.” Or maybe it’s the time when your high school crush texts you saying “OMG Sasha interrogated me the other day,” and then you reply “TELL ME,” and then he texts you back saying “She’s like are you and Lauren in a relationship or something lol,” and then you ask “What did you say?” He replies “I told her we were just close friends.” That, that right there is an example of a HARDcore friendzone. And I just want to let you know that I scrolled through my texts all the way back to 2015 just to find that.

Friendzoning is an art form that honestly can never be mastered. Picasso himself probably wouldn’t have been able to do it. Neither Van Gogh nor Dali. The only person who maybe could’ve done it was Frida Kahlo because she is awesome. I would have put my money on her, no question about it. But at the end of the day, friendzoning is just awkward. However, there is a spectrum of awkwardness and I, of course, have reached the highest level of it, more than once.

It happened when I was in the 4th grade. I was swinging next to Tommy, the cutest boy

in the whole class who had the bluest eyes and the Justin Bieber hair, making him that much more to die for. The bell rang so he and I started walking back to our classroom. Little did I know that at this moment, my whole life was about to change. I asked Tommy if maybe we could be more than friends. He, or course, replied with, “Best friends?” and I said “No, no something more than that!” At this point anyone, and I mean ANYONE, would’ve known what I was talking about, but not Tommy. No, no, Tommy thought I wanted to be “mega best friends”! And on that day, Tommy slipped through my fingers forever. This is the day I discovered the friendzone.

My embarrassment level was through the roof, and I thought I was incapable of doing that same thing to anyone, but then 6th grade happened. I remember it as if it were yesterday. I walked into my classroom and sat down and found a note folded inside my desk. I opened it and read: “Will you be my girlfriend?” There was a box next to the word “yes” and a box next to the word “no” where I was supposed to mark my answer. First off, there was no name saying who it was from. Second off, what the heck, and third off, THERE WAS NO NAME SAYING WHO IT WAS FROM. Maybe it was from David who definitely never brushed his teeth or Sam who picked and flicked literally every time I looked at him. Or maybe it was Tommy, good lord the things I would’ve done if it were Tommy. Being the idiot I am, I simply folded the note back up and put it in the desk next to me and then that person passed it down until it landed on Mike’s desk. Mike, being the loudest and most obnoxious kid, stood up and yelled asking who put that note in his desk and read the note out loud! Poor Ben, his face got instantly red. I still can’t believe I did that. I am so so so so so so so so so sorry Ben. I hope he and I can one day move past this even though we haven’t talked in seven years.

There is a saying that goes “It’s only awkward if you make it awkward,” and I find this true for friendzoning. The two ingredients to create the best possible friendzoning friendship are communication, and simply being yourself. Don’t avoid a conversation or eye contact, say “hey” when passing, and just be yourself! Mind games are immature so don’t engage, just don’t do it! But for clarification, “hey,” “heyy,” “heyyy,” “heyyyy,” and “heyyyyyyy” do indeed mean different things. “Hey” means “friends,” “heyy” means they think they like you, “heyyy” means “take the hint already,” “heyyyy” means “dtf,” and “heyyyyy” means they are drunk. I repeat, all of that is NOT a mind game.

It is essential to understand that friendzoning is natural and very important, because it represents individuals doing what they want and what is important to them. One is not obligated in any way, shape, or form to give something in return if someone is being nice. People can just simply be friends; in fact, people who are sexually attracted to a certain gender or genders can just be friends with people of that gender(s) — it is very real and very possible! Pop culture portrays friendzoning as such a horrible thing, but it is not! Sure, it may suck to be friendzoned but it is an act greater than simply placing someone in a “no benefits” zone. It is the freedom of choice, individuality, and the use of a voice play an important roles in the “art” of friendzoning. If you are the one being friendzoned, listen to what your friend wants and respect it. Just like what I did with Tommy (written with a heavy heart…still).

Now, if you are trying to friendzone and still want to salvage the relationship, this is what you do.

First, give subtle, yet obvious hints. Drop a “you remind me of my brother/sister.” Or if you are given a compliment, you may just reply with a “thank you.” You are still remaining polite and nice, just not picking up what the other person is putting down.

Second, always suggest group hangouts, ALWAYS. If you like spending time with that person but do not want to give the wrong idea, invite friends! Show that person that you only like hanging out with them in a friend-environment, not so much one-on-one.

Third, don’t ignore, but don’t lead the person on. My 6th grade boyfriend broke up with me by ignoring me even though we were neighbors, which honestly made life that much more awkward (thank god I moved). So, don’t ignore.

And lastly, be completely and utterly honest. Voice your opinion and your wants in a respectful manner. It’s helpful and important to voice your opinion, wants, and desires when trying to salvage and maintain a relationship.

Friendzoning is something that is normally out of everyone’s comfort zone, but welcome to life. So, what is the moral of this article, you may ask? Don’t have friends. Don’t talk to anyone, don’t look at anyone, and don’t breathe on anyone. Just get a dog, because they are really good friends, almost on Tommy’s and my “mega best friend” level. Just kidding. Do what you have to do, and move on, that’s the moral of this article. Actually, kidding again. I still love Tommy, that’s the moral of this article.

 

Screw Your Roommate: Find Your Soulmate or Maybe Just Have Some Really Bad Paella

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Screw Your Roommate is a tradition that has graced the grounds of Swarthmore with awkwardness and chicken grilla sandwiches since the spring of ’83. Okay, maybe the sandwiches weren’t a part of it in the 80s, but the endearing awkward interactions for which Swat is best known? That has certainly been a constant throughout the years. According to an article entitled “The History of the ‘Screw Your Roommate’ Dance,” the February 17, 1989 Phoenix reported “Everyone had been in an uproar for weeks. The whole social structure had been shaken to its very roots. Phone calls had been made, arrangements had fallen through. No one could agree on anyone. No, this wasn’t the realization of Marx’s prediction of a social revolution … It was time for Swarthmore’s annual ‘Screw Your Roommate’ Dance.’”

Twenty-seven years later and Screw Your Roommate seems no different. You may get matched, unmatched, and matched again, all of it culminating in what hopefully is a fun and awkward date in an elaborate (or not so elaborate) costume of your match-maker’s choice.

Speaking of getting matched and unmatched, this year’s Screw Your Roommate had a novel twist to it with the introduction of the ScrewDriver app, created by Tobin Feldman-Fitzthum ’19, that allowed for a Tinder-esque method of matching your roommate or friend.

How has ScrewDriver changed the game with regards to finding dates?

“Screwdriver is really helpful for looking beyond your social circle and meeting people at Swat that you wouldn’t otherwise.”

As a senior, Spriha Dhanuka was especially appreciative of this ability to discover new Swatties as she feels as if her social circle has been exhausted after four years at Swarthmore.

“It was really interesting because I got to talk to someone I would have never encountered otherwise,” Dhanuka said.

Most people I talked with also did Screw for this reason, as opposed to finding someone who they would be seriously romantically interested in.

“It wasn’t something I set up as being a really big romantic thing — I wasn’t trying to get married the next day. I was just excited to meet more people and be sociable,” Eliza Henneberry ’19 said.

Kaitelyn Pasillas ’ 20 also echoed this sentiment.

“I’m not really into it as a find [someone to date] thing … I’m not looking for that – it is only the first year,” she said about her decision to keep things just friendly.

However, there are some brilliant exceptions that go beyond the realm of the platonic. Visiting Professor of Microbiology — and one half of a quaker Matchbox couple — Elizabeth Wilbanks shared her compelling story. How did her date go?

“The long-game is we’re married … the short-game was completely disastrous,” Wilbanks said.

Wilbanks, a self-described awkward later-bloomer, guessed whom her date was through hints that her roommate had been dropping, and was very excited for her date.

“She was such a catch … an amazing woman. I later found out that she was completely not excited and thought it was the world’s stupidest thing” Wilbanks said.

As you might imagine, the date did not go well. Following a five-minute conversation, Wilbanks’ future wife said she had a migraine and left her all by her lonesome in Sharples.

“I was like ‘oh god I’m completely unlovable.’” Wilbanks confessed.

By the time her date came back (she really did have a migraine) Wilbanks was nowhere to be found.

“We spent the rest of the year, you know, salad bar at Sharples, not making eye-contact.”

However, Sophomore year, Wilbanks’ quadmate was her date’s lab partner for organic chemistry, and Wilbanks begged her roommate to switch labs with her.

“And so we were lab partners for organic chemistry … and we had a lot of great chemistry.” Wilbanks chuckled.

Although previously stating that they were solely interested in Screw for a friendship, after hearing Wilbanks’ story, Henneberry confessed that maybe a different openness was possible.

“I was a little bit wondering if I was going to meet my microbiology wife —  I was waiting.” they said.

At the end of the day, Screw sends an important message to Swatties.

“I think screw is great because it legitimizes the kind of awkward social experiences we have on a daily basis. People have these awkward dates and awkward conversations with strangers all the time, but Screw is telling you ‘It’s okay, it’s a tradition to do it!’” Dhanuka said.

But whether you’re dating or not it’s important to cherish these interactions.

“It’s a bubble, but there’s so many beautiful people here — whether you’re dating them or you’re friends with them, just enjoy your classmates because they’re really special.” Wilbanks advised

So you can meet your soulmate at Screw Your Roommate. But will you? The proof is in the paella. It’s possible you will meet the love of you life, but more likely you’ll just have some bad chicken grilla.

Roses may be red, but you don’t have to be blue this Valentine’s Day

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If you think about it, Valentine’s Day is ultimately the reason why so many people are born in November. I suppose one can say that the ideal Valentine’s Day is waking up to breakfast in bed with a string orchestra playing in your family room (just like what Kanye did for Kim), getting surprised at work with 10,000 roses (like Jay-Z did for Beyoncé), going to Morimoto for — not only lunch — but also dinner because who chooses not to eat sushi when given the option, and, to top it all off, being surprised with a private 2 Chainz concert where you actually get to go on stage and rap with the man, the myth, and the legend himself. But like I said, that’s the “ideal” Valentine’s Day.

It is with my deep condolences that I say that this “ideal” Valentine’s Day never happens and will only ever be something we dream about. Take my eighth grade year for example, I was in a three month relationship with this boy who was in every single one of my classes. The only instances in which we interacted were during robotics class, and that was solely because he was my lab partner. We would text all the time but he would rarely acknowledge my presence in person. I remember one time I was walking down our school ramp and he was walking up it and when we crossed paths, I, of course, said hi and he did not even turn his head. Just imagine how awkward and cringe-worthy that situation was. After that, I told him that I wanted to end things and he begged me not to so I gave him an ultimatum (good god how childish was I) — I said that if he didn’t make more of an effort to interact with me in the next week, I would break up with him. Well, the next day was Valentine’s Day and he did not even acknowledge that it was, so I broke up with him. Some say that it was cruel, but this was also the same boy that told me my hands were too clammy to hold sooooo long story short, the “ideal” Valentine’s Day does not exist.

But why should it exist? Why do we spend so much time and energy on trying to create the perfect day for the ones we like or love? One day does not need to be dedicated to exemplify our feelings because we have 364 other days to do that. A simple smile, an “I love you”, a special meal, a walk around the park, or a movie night — all of those things can be done more often than not and should not be saved for one day out of the year. But hey, I’m still not going to complain if someone takes me to see 2 Chainz on Valentine’s Day. The majority of people stress about making their Valentine’s Day festivities perfect, but no matter what you do, it will be perfect because you and your partner are together, and at the end of the day, that is all that really matters.

Now for all you single people out there, I want you to smile right now, nod your head and say to yourself, “I am a strong independent person, I don’t need anybody to fulfill me. Just me, myself and I.” Now cue PTAF’s song “Boss Ass Bitch” and you should be flying mighty high right now. More often than not, all the single people I talk to keep saying that they are dreading Valentine’s Day and it makes no sense to me because with Valentine’s Day comes Galentine’s Day on February 13th. As Leslie Knope would say, “Oh, it’s the best day of the year.” (Don’t worry boys, there is such a thing called Palentine’s Day, so you get to join in on the fun too.) When it comes to the month of love, we tend to have tunnel vision as we forget that it is just as important to show love towards our friends as it is to our companions.

Galentine’s and Palentine’s Day is just as important as Valentine’s Day so see a movie with your friend, go out to breakfast, give them a high five, prank them — honestly anything that is a small demonstration of love is perfect. Sometimes a pat on the back, a secret handshake, or a smile go a long way. Quick PSA: Galentine’s and Palentine’s Day is not to be confused with Treat Yo Self day on October 13th — these are 2 very different holidays that deserve mandatory celebration (this is for all my Parks and Rec fans out there).

“I don’t think you need to do something huge for it, but it is one of those things people like to be reminded of —  that someone cares for them. It shouldn’t just be a day of that, you should be doing that consistently if you are in a relationship. That being said, there is a day for it so I think people prioritize that as a result,” says Dimitiri Kondelis ’20.

Like I said, there are 364 other days in the year to exemplify love and feelings.

“Valentine’s day is like a birthday,” according to Lelosa Aimufua ‘20. “Every day you are a great person and you’re alive and your birthday is when you celebrate that. Valentine’s Day is like that for couples. You’re a couple and you’re together every day, but it’s a special day to celebrate it,” Aimufua said.

With all this being said, January is actually the month in which the most children are born with November coming in 11th place.

Postcard from Abroad: Tamara Matheson

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Dear Campus Journal,

After the inauguration, I spent all of my free time at home vigilantly watching the news, calling my representatives, reading about nonviolent resistance, and generally trying my best to break through what seemed to be one bad fever dream of a week. As executive orders rolled in, my list of concerns grew. On Jan. 28, as I was boarding the plane I felt almost frantic about how to continue to fight for the things and the people I love, from all the way across the ocean. On a day that includes travelling to Ohio, Michigan, Paris, and finally Morocco, I was insulated from the updates and the protests, getting only the most basic facts from glimpses of CNN playing without subtitles at the airport. I worry about how to keep the people that matter to me close, torn between wanting to immerse myself in this experience and the urge to militantly hold on to the things (and people) that matter most to me.

It feels impossible for me to tune out the decision making that hurts some of my best friends, their families, and mine. Yet, as I spend my days six hours ahead of the news cycle, with internet service only some of the time, it feels impossible for me to catch it all. I’m doing my best to fall in love with Rabat because I feel incredibly grateful to be here. So far, I’ve seen a sunset that took my breath away, attempted some very laughable Arabic, and can smell the sea if I pay close enough attention. I would split myself in two trying to hold everything together, but that’s not going to stop me from trying – at least to the best of my ability. As one of my instructors pointed out, we’re never going to be detached from our positionality.

Most of us are American, a fact that is very obvious to everyone as we walk through the medina. The guy who set up my SIM card at the phone store googled “bigly” to test if the internet was working. The knowledge about what’s going on is definitely here and I find it comforting. In the last few days I’ve had so many conversations about this feeling, this urge to hold on, that leads me to believe that I’m not the only one thinking it.  I can’t be detached from what is happening because here, I am American, no matter my conflicting emotions. It informs so much about the way that I am seen, and how others interact with me.

I was worried that going abroad and “immersing myself” in this experience meant leaving behind the uncertainties at home. A few days in, and I’m realizing that those things do not have to be mutually exclusive. I may not be able to protest or call my senators every day, but I can still stay informed, I can send emails, and I can find other ways to engage. To be present here sometimes means that I feel frustrated, unable to stretch myself enough to make the changes I feel like I need to. But from six hours ahead and 3710 miles away, Black lives still matter, water is still life, women’s rights are still human rights, and banning refugees and turning our backs on immigrants is still not America.

I love you guys. No matter what this administration says, no matter how much they try to erase you, you matter. I love you and I will fight for you in any way I can. If you need me, please know that I’m here. Swat I love you.

 

Beslama, Tamara

 

Low Cost Valentine’s Day Date Ideas

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When you are a college student operating on a relatively thin budget, Valentine’s Day can be a huge pain.  From flowers to jewelry, from overpriced chocolates to candle-lit dinners, one 24 hour period is enough to clean out your bank account for the rest of the year.  If you are struggling to balance your budget and your expectations, instead of digging through your pockets for nonexistent cash, check out The Phoenix’s list of low-to-no cost date ideas.  Hopefully you will find some inspiration.

  1. Picnic on Parrish beach with the contents of your seven-dollar meal swipe at Essie’s.  

Essie’s may be a rip-off, but that meal swipe window is essential, especially for those of us who forgot to get off the unlimited plan. Additionally, don’t let the cold weather stop you; multiple layers can counteract the cold perfectly! We have had enough relatively and frighteningly warm days, thanks to global warming, rendering winter picnics completely tolerable even if you want to let the layers come off.  

  1. Go for a walk in the Crum.  We have a gorgeous forest at our disposal rich with beautiful clearings, magnificent trees, and fresh air, all for the incredible price of zero dollars.

 

  1. Hang out in the computer science lab in the basement of Clothier.  This one might sound odd, but bear with me. The door is usually open, so don’t worry if you aren’t in a C.S. class. The space is bright, newly renovated, and recently furnished with a plethora of comfortable, spinny chairs that are perfect for racing down the smooth exit ramps circling the room.  Additionally, the white boards adorning the walls combined with the wide variety and endless supply of dry-erase markers in a wide variety of colors create the perfect opportunity for playing hangman or making some nice art with your special someone. Let those creative juices flow and romance will be sure to follow.    

 

  1. Coffee Date. Nothing says romance like a nice cup of coffee. From Hobbs, to Dunkin Donuts, to Kohlberg, to Sci, Swarthmore has plenty of caffeine options.  For those of you who — again — forgot to switch meal plans, Sharples coffee will do the job.  A steamy cup of Peet’s and a quiet, second floor table for two sounds pretty ideal for any date situation.  
  2. Go on a run.  A little exercise never hurt anyone, and just one town over, in Springfield, there is a conveniently located CVS (aka the perfect place to pick up some reasonably priced chocolate!).
  3. Netflix and Chill. If you don’t feel like being creative and are looking for low-key entertainment, there is always Netflix.  If you don’t have Netflix, you can just chill. Please note that The Phoenix does not support Project Free TV, as it causes viruses and is also illegal.

A final note: Although you might think picking a flower for your date from one of our myriad botanical gardens, I implore you to resist the urge.  Break one branch off an endangered foliage specimen from our nationally-recognized arboretum and you could owe the college upwards of $500. If anything is the antithesis of a low-cost date, it’s that.

 

Cars on Campus: BMW’s, Ice Racing,and Mailboxes

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I became friends with Mikhal Yudien ’19 through some mutual friends. Essentially, my friends knew I was into cars, and they were like, “Yo, we know this girl who is into cars; you should meet her.” I was like, “Sure, sounds cool.” Little did I know, I was going to meet someone who dresses like Batwoman, drives stick-shift, and races her car for fun. In other words, Yudien’s pretty badass. Okay, pretty damn badass. But don’t let the black leather jackets fool you — Yudien has always been super approachable. Soon enough, I came to realize Yudien drove a BMW E90 335xi. Let’s get some jargon out of the way before we talk about that, though.

The words “E90 335xi” tell you the model, model year, engine option, and the drivetrain of the car, whether it is all-wheel drive or only rear-wheel drive. “E90” was the internal code BMW used for all 2007-2013 model year 3-series models that were 4-door sedans; the 3-series is BMW’s most iconic model, offered in both 2-door and 4-door variants. E92 was the internal code given to the 2-door coupe, and E93 was the internal code given to convertibles. All 3-series model names begin with 3, and then have a suffix, like “-35”, attached to them (i.e. “335”). The -35 suffix tells me that the car comes with an inline, where the cylinders are all in one line, 6-cylinder engine that is turbocharged. Long-story short, turbochargers force more air into the engine, which means the engine can use more fuel to complement the increase in air, which means that the “internal combustion” that goes on in the engine will produce more power.

Finally, the “x” denotes that the car has BMW X-Drive, which is simply BMW’s all-wheel-drive system (drivetrain). Yudien is not a huge fan of the all-wheel-drive, well because, it takes away from the badassery (read: driving like a race-car driver) she aspires to.  

“Although it’s crucial for Vermont winters, the fact that it’s four-wheel drive makes drifting much trickier,” Yudien says.  Oh, and also, it’s a stick-shift. Because driving matters.

Now that we have that out of the way, let’s talk about the car itself. In all honesty, it’s not too noticeable — its silver color and 4-door format don’t make much of an impression at first glance. Perhaps the only striking things you’ll notice are the studded winter tires Yudien  has on her car (more on this later) However, once Yudien let me drive it, I realized the car was the epitome of a wolf in sheep’s clothing. As soon as you start driving it, you realize, “My goodness, do the Germans know their shit when it comes to making cars.” The manual transmission feels great, perhaps a little loose, but its (frankly, mind-boggling) ease of use makes up for any slight shortcomings that the car may have. The steering feels heavier than anything I’ve ever driven, but its sublime, man. You feel a direct connection to the front tires, and it gives the driver confidence to place the car where he/she wants to.

Yudien agreed with me, saying “I love the acceleration and how it handles for a stock car; I can take turns really smoothly and still accelerate quickly out of them.”

And what about that engine? Inline, 6 cylinder engines are known to be extremely smooth in their operation, because the engine harmonics are perfectly balanced as a result of the layout of the engine. Mash the gas pedal, and you’re pushed forward by a smooth rush of 300 horsepower that thrusts you all the way to 60 mph in a mere 5.1 seconds. It sounds amazing too, with crackles and burbles and pops coming out of the exhaust frequently. Overall, the driving experience is pure joy. All the parts come together to produce a car that not only is competent, but more importantly, inspires confidence in the driver and puts a smile on your face every time you drive it.

So, now that you’ve had enough of me going gaga over Yudien’s car by using some weird terms that nobody cares about, let’s get back to those studded tires on her car. Yudien is from Vermont, and in case you didn’t know, Vermont gets a metric shit-ton of snow. When I asked her about it, she said the studded tires are pretty much necessary for winter driving in Vermont. They also probably help out for when she races on frozen lakes. Yeah, you heard that right, frozen lakes:

“Basically it’s the same as on-land autocross — we set up cones in a winding course and do time trials.  Since we have little to no traction, the real challenge comes with drifting around all the corners and managing to stay on-course.  The part that usually scares people the most is that you can constantly hear the ice cracking beneath the tires, even though the ice is more than a foot thick.”

 

That sounds real wild if you ask me. But it’s all part of the persona, I guess. The love of cars runs in the family, so it’s not surprising what Yudien is willing to do with her car. She explains that her love for cars —and taking them onto frozen lakes — started at an early age.

“My stepdad was always revamping his ’70 Lotus Europa S2 in our basement, so I grew up talking about cars and racing with him.  Before I could drive — I won’t lie — I was obsessed with Mario Kart.” she admitted.

“When I was 11 I insisted that I take the car up and down the road to check the (usually empty) mailbox about five times a day.  When I was a little older I first went out on the [frozen] lake in my stepdad’s car while he did donuts and I loved the adrenaline rush that came with having no traction.”

Which brings me to my final point. In the first edition of my column, I talked about why anyone should give a damn about cars. I described how cars are wonderfully intricate engineering marvels. However, it goes beyond that. Cars are about experiences. Cars are about memories. And most importantly, cars are about people.

They’re about your dad fixing the flat tire on the minivan. They’re about the ML shuttle you take back to your dorm at 2AM. And if you’re anything like Mikhal, they’re about your stepdad taking you out in his ’70 Lotus Europa S2 onto a frozen lake in Vermont.

 

Queer Love in the Time of Trump

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I grew up in San Francisco, the capital of peace and love in America. Still, nothing could have prepared me for the 2016 election and its aftermath. And no, I don’t just mean the fact that the most powerful person in the country is now a human Cheeto with no moral compass or intelligent, sustainable plan. I mean the sudden outpouring of love from all sides of the anti-Trump resistance.

Ever since someone first came up with “Love Trumps Hate” I have seen nothing but declarations of love, mainly from middle-aged, economically advantaged white women. It reminds me of the oh-so-original “Love is Love” signs that these same women carried around just before same-sex marriage was legalized in all 50 states. At the time, I had noted that none of the queer people I knew had those signs. Where do we stand now? What is the role of queer love in these times, considering it may be threatened by the administration? As a group menaced by Trump, what should we do with all of this love being thrown at us?

Disclaimer — as a cisgendered white person, I’m very safe and well off compared to many transgender folk or queer people of color. I’m more worried about my future as a woman than as a queer person. Yet when I went back to my old high school during winter break, my old classmates gave me long, worried looks, and asked me in hushed tones how I was doing. It appears many straight “allies” have convinced themselves that the loss of same-sex marriage is imminent, and that the queer community will collapse when that happens.

“Marriage is a concern because it’s something that a lot of people strive toward…but it’s not the most important thing to me,” explains Maya Henry ’20. She expresses more concern about the possibility of healthcare becoming less accessible and more expensive. She isn’t the only one to distance herself from the issue of same-sex marriage. Will Marchese ’20 expresses his annoyance that it has been made such an issue, pointing out that gay marriage only provides benefits such as healthcare to the married couples. That leaves many queer people without an economic or health care safety net, especially considering how the LGBTQ+ community is disproportionately affected by issues of poverty. But, of course, economic hardships and lack of health care make for a much less emotional photo-op than attractive same-sex couples getting married on the beach.

Forget about marriage. What matters more is queer relationships, in and of themselves. I have both been encouraged to be out and proud and to hide any same-sex relationship I have, out of fear of being attacked.

“It’s important to celebrate our love … But also keep in mind people might need to go back into the closet for … personal safety … I feel like there’s gonna be an increase in violence,” believes Gretchen Trupp ’18.

“There’s a lot of ambiguity in terms of what the climate will be like for queer relationships,” Henry adds.

Not the most positive picture. It makes me wonder what, exactly, we can do with all this gratuitous love being thrown at us. What about our love? Is there now some sacred responsibility to love everyone and be above all the hate? Trupp firmly disagrees with the notion of having to love everyone, especially people who fundamentally oppose who we are at our core — people such as Milo Yiannopoulous, an openly gay Breitbart journalist who loudly supports Trump and the alt-right. His scheduled appearance at the University of California, Berkeley caused a riot and was cancelled for security reasons. There wasn’t much love being directed at him there. The queer community is divided — some of us voted Trump, or care little about what he does until it affects us directly.

Straight people, just a heads up: queer people can be jerks too. Direct your love towards those who really need it. As Marchese points out, those that really need love and support are those we don’t hear about often, such as transgender people of color or undocumented queer people. They may not be commonly represented in mainstream LGBT+ discourse, but their struggles deserve attention, respect, and support.

Let’s discuss that term, “love.” It’s a laudable intention, but what can we do with it? How will having the love of some random “ally” help in the time of Trump? Marchese archly points out that, while love is crucial for self-preservation in our communities, “Love does NOT trump hate; direct action and militant anti-fascism do.” This love won’t be especially useful if it doesn’t become concrete action.

“[Love is] relevant as we … draw strength from our community and allies … but … it’s very clearly not enough,” Trupp says.

“The love trumps hate thing makes me roll my eyes sometimes, but at the core of it I think it’s a way of standing with people whose struggles you may not fully understand, but being there to advocate for them,” admits Henry.

So, allies, thank you for your love. It is appreciated. But we don’t just need love. We need actions to back it up. And more than that, we need respect. Understanding. We need you to look out for communities that you may have forgotten about, to remember that the queer community does not start and end with rainbow flags and “Love is Love.” We need you to listen when we point out why pussy hats or the overrepresentation of wealthier white women in the Women’s March are exclusionary and should be critiqued for all the good intentions behind them.

Love is something valuable and not that uncommon, that you give the people you feel closest to — the ones you would fight to protect and help. So don’t say you love everyone if you’re not willing to fight for them.

“I don’t think you have to love everyone, but trying [to understand] each other is important to me,” Henry concluded.

We’re not that desperate for love, people. We’ll take listening and respect.

On Friendzoning

in Campus Journal by

 

Back in the ’90s, the following exchange brought forth raucous laughter:

“It’s never gonna happen.”

“What?”

“You and Rachel.”

“What? Me and Rach—whatta…why not?”

“Because you waited too long to make your move, and now you’re in the friend zone.”

“No, no, no, I’m not in the zone.”

“No, Ross, you’re mayor of the zone!”

“I’m taking my time, alright, I’m laying the groundwork. I mean everyday I get just a little bit closer to—”

“Priesthood!”

This conversation, from Friends, suitably, is credited for coining the term friend zone, a phrase that somehow persists even if it has lost much of its comedic pop or social relevance. Nevertheless, I have been tasked to write an article on its many aspects for Valentine’s Day. So, where to start?

The friend zone is a place of nightmare. To be friendzoned is to be banished. That is what a lot of people would like to believe. It is when a man, typically, develops feelings for a woman, typically, and those feelings are unrequited—hardly uncommon. As the phrase suggests, the man has become a friend of the lady and has failed to woo the lady. His desire to mate has been thwarted due to a combination of misread cues and likely his own obliviousness to her intentions.

The man then uses the friend zone as a way to not only come to grips with his own inadequacy as a sexual being, but also as a veiled insult to the woman, and to guilt her into not reading the thoughts of his own mind. It has been labeled misogynistic, perverse, a plea for entitlement.

The Internet is flush with references to the friend zone. There are countless articles with titles derivative of ‘Avoiding the Friend Zone’ and memes devoted to those lost in the friend zone as if it was the Bermuda Triangle of romance. On that note, there is also no shortage of metaphorical comparisons drawn to highlight the apparent bleakness of the friend zone.

Ali Benazir, a self-titled “Happiness Engineer,” actually called the friend zone “Justfriendistan” and said that it is a “territory only to be rivaled in inhospitality by the Western Sahara, the Atacama, and Dante’s Ninth Circle of Hell.”

To which I respond: Huh? Has Ali Benazir ever read Dante’s Inferno? That is the true stuff of nightmares, maybe because it concerns actual Hell. But her hyperbole does reveal the priority that regular people, that we as humans, place on navigating relationships, and how nerve-wracking, self-destructive, and un-fun it is to be on the constant lookout for the pothole that is the friend zone.

Honestly, I find the whole concept absurd. To be a good partner is to be a good friend. The two are not mutually exclusive. If we believe them to be, then that only gives dimension to the vacuum of imagination our cultures have when it comes to managing healthy relationships. I’m not saying that in order to be a good lover you must first pass through the “Atacama” that is the friend zone. I am saying that friendship is the sharpest weapon there is to fight for a romance, because quite frankly, then you can cut the bullshit and get to the feelings without sacrificing intimacy. But to do that requires you to be open to the entirety of a person and not to simply see them as walking genitals.

On the off chance that this is too daunting a task, I hear the priesthood is always looking for new members and that the Atacama is lovely this time of year.

 

(I use man and woman as the two halves of the whole in this article but friend zone may apply to all sexual relationships if the term has or is to have any significance.)

 

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