Female privilege is being able to express sexual or romantic interest without being called a “creep” and losing social status.

Unwanted expressions of sexual or romantic interest are always awkward, but it becomes especially troubling when they persist after one has said “no.”

Some men refer to this as being “friendzoned” and take serious offense to women who exercise their right to say no to their romantic interest after they have been kind or friendly to a woman for a while. This word is also sometimes used when men go on dates with women who realize they are just not interested in them after all. 

The problem here is that being nice to a woman, being her friend, or letting her talk to you about tough stuff does not mean she owes you romantic or physical attention in return. Having “been there” throughout all of her other romantic relationships does not automatically assign you privilege to her heart or body. “Nice” isn’t the only thing women look for in men, and really, if someone is being nice in order to achieve a payoff, that person may not really be so nice at all. I’m sure we’ve all heard the saying, “Girls are not machines you put kindness coins into until sex falls out.” The same goes for any romantic relationship, physical or not.

Tumblr user claudieblue puts the occurrence into perspective by comparing it to a man who doesn’t understand why the store he frequents hasn’t hired him. [CLICK HERE] to read the post! Another Tumblr user, angels-and-angles, says “‘Slut’ is how we vilify a woman for exercising her right to say ‘yes.’ ‘Friendzone’ is how we vilify a woman for exercising her right to say ‘no.’”

What this leaves is very little middle ground for a woman to stand on, and very little trust for these supposed “friends” whose kindness, unknowing to her, came at a cost all along.

The phrase “creep-shaming” is often used by the same people who espouse the belief that when a woman says “no” to a friend who has always been there for her, she is friendzoning. The phrase carries the connotation that when a woman tells the [often] opposite-sex friend that she feels uncomfortable with his persistent advances, she is somehow shaming him, abusing him, emasculating him, or otherwise insulting him.

The most important thing for everyone to remember is to be open and honest with each other before beginning any kind of relationship, platonic or otherwise. If you don’t think you’ll be able to handle staying in a platonic relationship with someone you’re romantically interested in without getting hurt, the responsibility is on you to either remove yourself from that friendship, or continue as you are with the knowledge and acceptance that your feelings may never be returned - preferably without intentionally guilting your friend.

It is also important to remember that friendship does not constitute “leading someone on,” and people are perfectly capable of having deep, meaningful conversations with people they do not necessarily want to be with in a romantic or sexual way.

No one should have to feel guilty for not returning another’s affection. This certainly goes for women who pine after men as well, queer people, or any other combination of friends. What we see most commonly, however, especially online, is women under fire for friendzoning and creep-shaming men.