Reading the chart as supporting rape culture involves understanding how the terms “Friend Zone” and “Nice Guy” are used in discourse by different groups. This was a conversation of which I was unaware. To me, the Friend Zone is a classification for people feeling that somebody, due to shared history or comfort or habit, does not consider them a romantic possibility in any sense, be it “I’m attracted to this person” or “I’m not interested in this person.” The possibility has not arisen or been contemplated; it is not even a “no” to the person, just a “never thought about it.” There is certainly sadness about being in that position, but also real friendship and possibly a desire for more, hope for sparks, that I do not see as malevolent or detracting from the relationship.
The Friend Zone is not always used this way. From men, there can be a lot of anger involved in using the term. It is seen as a penalty for misdeeds, or worse for not being desirable enough. One gets “put” there as if it is in the woman’s power to be attracted to the man but she refuses to do so just to punish him, or worse again because she only goes for the guys she can’t be friends with: the dangerous, mysterious type. The blame is on the woman either for doling out punishment or for having “incorrect” standards of attraction, and so is born resentment and ultimately the Nice Guy. As in, nice guys finish last. As in, “woe is me, why am I always overlooked when I’m the person who is the real friend, not the attractive jerk?” And resentment turns to entitlement. “I’m the real one for her. How could she not see that? I’ve done so much for her. She owes this to me.” And that entitlement undermines the original friendship (if indeed there even was real friendship involved and not just rejected courtship) and leads to general misogyny and possibly to dangerous behavior toward the woman.