You Asked It

Just Wondering

Advice about class privilege, finding a drummer for your band, and being friends with boys.

My dad recently told me that men and women cannot be friends. He said it’s unhealthy and generally wrong to hang out with someone of the opposite sex unless you’re in a romantic relationship with them. I have quite a few male friends that I don’t want to lose OR go out with, so can you reassure me that my dad is wrong? —Inez, UK

Short answer: Your dad is wrong.

(Very) long answer: My late mother-in-law was a marriage and family therapist who specialized in adultery. She wrote this book called Not “Just Friends” in which she argued that it’s OK for married people to be friends with people of the gender(s) they’re attracted to so long as they don’t tell those friends things they don’t tell their spouses, which seems wise and reasonable. But, probably because she had given this idea so much thought, and perhaps because she was understandably protective of her only son, she sometimes seemed too cautious. During one of her visits to Chicago, where my husband and I used to live, I skipped out on dinner with her one night to go hang out with a male friend of mine, also visiting from out of town. Our plan was to hang out in his hotel room, get room service, listen to something he was working on, and watch TV. My mother-in-law was fully scandalized by this plan—she said it was totally inappropriate for me to meet ANOTHER MAN in a HOTEL ROOM. After all, hotel rooms have BEDS in them, and beds are good surfaces for BONIN’.

The things her fears didn’t take into account are many: First of all, this is not Mad Men. This is real life. Second, my friend and I were not attracted to each other, as far as I knew, but even if we were, I am in a monogamous relationship. That means I don’t get naked with every person I’m ever attracted to, or else I would rarely be clothed. If I got naked with every friend I have any attraction to, I would be freezing almost all of the time, because there would be nothing protecting my epidermis from the outside elements. I’m actually not sure there’s such thing as a 100% platonic friendship—love and affection and friend-attraction and sex-attraction and friend-feelings and romantic feelings are all too mixed up together to ever be cleanly separated. I’m attracted to my friends—male and female—and in love with my friends, but I don’t have sex with any of them, because I don’t act on my every passing thought or urge. Thank god—otherwise I’d be in jail for jumping subway turnstiles, murdering street harassers, and/or pouring whole shelves of Reese’s Peanut Butter Hearts into my bag and running out of the store, sans paying. I’m guessing you don’t act on every urge of yours, either. Not to mention that your dad’s theory doesn’t make any sense for gay girls—are they supposed to be friends only with men, because obviously they will try to have sex with any and every girl they hang out with? Or, geez, what if you’re bi or pansexual or just sexually open-minded? YOU ARE NOT ALLOWED TO HAVE ANY FRIENDS AT ALL.

The ideas held by your dad and, to a lesser extent, my husband’s mom, are deeply sexist, because they assume that there’s no reason for a man to want to get to know a woman if she’s not going to sleep with him, and vice versa, because those two genders have nothing in common, because we are essentially DIFFERENT SPECIES. On the other hand, getting to know a woman that he’s not fucking can help a man understand what all women go through (and vice versa). So, basically, CROSS-GENDER FRIENDSHIP CAN END SEXISM. Or at least it can help. It certainly can’t hurt.

Also, since friendship is almost always conducted by people who see each other as equals, more or less, when a boy and a girl become friends, that’s proof to everyone out there that it isn’t necessary to see girls and women as something lesser than (or even different from!) boys and men. So, obviously, CROSS-GENDER FRIENDSHIP CAN TOPPLE THE PATRIARCHY. Or at least not support or contribute to it.

I’ve had male best friends all my life, and those have been some of the most gratifying, fun, interesting, meaningful, and beautiful friendships I’ve ever had the pleasure of experiencing. I literally wouldn’t be who I am without certain dudes I’ve been friends with (most of them straight!) who challenged me intellectually, introduced me to new culture and ideas, gave me advice, and shared their inner lives with me. I did have sex with a couple of them, but so what? I was single then, and sometimes friends have sex! To me it was another way of expressing affection and love, and no one freaked out, and it didn’t RUIN the friendship. It probably deepened it. We didn’t try to be boyfriend-girlfriend, but what if we did? Romantic relationships that started off as “just” friendships seem pretty much ideal, don’t they?

Now, there is one circumstance where I think friendship is potentially hurtful and definitely difficult: when one of you, no matter what gender, is in love with the other, but those feelings aren’t mutual. This can work sometimes, but IME, more often than not someone gets jealous, resentful, and mad.

In summation: Be friends with boys! Boys: They’re just like us! Be careful if one of you is in love with the other but not vice versa! Your dad is wrong, and you can tell him I said so! —Anaheed

Music is everything to me, and I really want to start a band. My friend agreed to be the guitarist, and I plan on playing bass and singing, but we can’t find anyone interested in drumming for us, because the few drummers in this town are already in bands. How do we find a drummer? —Marisa, 16, Jackson, Michigan

Drummers are the hardest to find of any kind of band member—I’m pretty sure it’s an actual scientific fact. The first bands of almost everyone I know, if they didn’t have a drummer from the get-go, always wound up with, like, their sister’s metalhead friend who was just looking for another excuse to show off his double-kick-drum problem. The best way to find anybody to play music with is to get the word out as much as you can, so tell your musical friends that you’re looking, and go to as many shows as you can to network with people in your local scene who might play, or know someone who does.

If you can’t find the perfect percussionist right off the bat, don’t sweat it! In my experience, just learning how to write songs and play an instrument on your own is hard enough, though it’s a nice advantage (and just nice in general) when you have a friend nearby to musically struggle and strive with. Having a band is super fun, even in the very beginning, when it’s kind of annoying that your skill level or sound doesn’t yet match what you originally imagined yourself doing. So even if you don’t have your full lineup set yet, keep playing with your friend and working on tracks. I was in a band for nine months once before we found a singer, but the cool thing was, by the time we all got together, we had already written six really good songs that were totally worked out, because we practiced three times a week for two hours and didn’t let our lack of a singer impede us. You can always jump other members in later, you know?

Let’s just say, worst-case-scenario style, that you straight-up just can’t find a drummer, after an exhaustive hunt. You’ve still got options. There are a bunch of different drum machines you could work with or learn to program, or you could make your own beats in Garage Band if either you or your friend has access to a Mac, which is really helpful if you’re writing songs and want to see how they’d sound with percussion. If you want to actually play shows with a drum machine, you can simply plug in your phone or a CD or a laptop into a PA (you’ll need an adaptor) or into the secondary input on your amp (or borrow a practice amp from someone). This solution isn’t all bad—having an electronic drummer means one less person to schedule practice around, and it makes playing shows easier (less gear, faster load-out). Good luck, and keep us posted on your band! —Jessica

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30 Comments

  • gr-ass January 21st, 2014 11:31 PM

    i feel you so hard on being called cute. im 4’10 and the only thing people say when they see me is “omg youre so cute!!” and i should be flattered at the compliment but im so sick of being called cute all the time! i wanna be thought of as hot or sexy or beautiful not cute yknow

    • Anielica January 24th, 2014 9:39 AM

      I hate those sorts of compliments that just end up being a bit insulting. Like constantly hearing, “you’re so cute!” or “your face is so tiny!” or “you’re so skinny!” It’s especially been annoying because I’ve got pretty low self confidence and a lot of the time I find myself ugly and unattractive, and hearing ‘you’re cute’ when I wish I could be told I was beautiful or looked pretty is pretty awful.
      PSA: Even if you mean it as a compliment, think twice. I also look a bit younger than my age, so I’m sensitive about being called cute b/c I’m trying to look older, not little and cute! Ugh.

  • Emily January 21st, 2014 11:52 PM

    To the girl who was looking for a drummer, Nirvana went through like six drummers before they found Chris Novoselic, and they’ve been nominated into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. So keep looking but don’t freak if you don’t find the perfect one at first. Good luck!

    • froctopus January 22nd, 2014 2:20 AM

      Nirvana’s drummer was Dave Grohl, now lead singer of the Foo Fighters. Chris Novoselic was the bassist.
      But I agree, drummers come and go from bands like crazy sometimes. Don’t give up on the search, it’s well worth it being in a band.

  • sadie lidji January 21st, 2014 11:59 PM

    Amy Rose u r the best

  • honorarygilmoregal January 22nd, 2014 1:10 AM

    Rookies always give the best advice :)

  • RisainSanFrancisca January 22nd, 2014 1:34 AM

    This is perf <3 especially love the privilege stuff, being a well-off white person gives me a ton that I'm always checking myself on and making sure I'm not being accidentally racist/classist/etc.- at least as a lesbian I just have to worry about my friends! The response on not changing yourself for anyone else was so necessary for me right now too, thank you so so much for these rookie!! <3

    http://manyrisas.tumblr.com
    http://manyrisas.blogspot.com

  • AndreaGG January 22nd, 2014 2:13 AM

    I don’t hate being call cute that much, but I do hate never being a dating prospect, to anyone, ever. I’m known as the smart kid who people like and trust and are impressed by because I’m involved in a lot of stuff, like music, church, university, ans I can actually make it through. But when a guy friend come to me an says “You’re like a little sister to me, and so smart and nice and cute” and call me pet names and at the same time they’re checking out a girl butt, I just know I’m being friendzoned by him an everry guy in a 500m surrounding area, forever. And I don’t like it.

  • TessAnnesley January 22nd, 2014 3:52 AM

    wow i’m a drummer and now i feel really weird… dude, surely we aren’t that rare haha

    • zoeah January 23rd, 2014 4:28 AM

      completely unrelated but NO FREAKIN WAY YOU HAVE THE SAME SURNAME AS ME AND I’VE NEVER COME ACROSS ANYONE ELSE WITH MY SURNAME BEFORE WHO WASN’T RELATED TO ME

  • Kirthi January 22nd, 2014 6:01 AM

    I just have to say the one about the no platonic relationship is so ridiculous! And the most amusing thing is that we have it just the opposite. In India arranged marriage is dominant, so dating and romance and other lovely things are normally frowned upon. When we are seen with a boy we have to explain that “he is just my frrrrrreind.” So ironic !!

  • soviet_kitsch January 22nd, 2014 11:37 AM

    lol i’m barely 5 feet and look hella young and i’m so tired of the whole “you’re so cute!” attitude. although in my experience, essentially everyone who calls me cute turns out to be a raging asshole in a lot of other ways, so i guess it’s a good way to weed people out.

  • spudzine January 22nd, 2014 12:12 PM

    I was shocked at how many of these applied to me. I was called cute a lot a couple of years ago, and it bothered me to a stressful extent. Because others couldn’t see my other qualities(ya know, the ones that weren’t just “cute”), I chose to see those qualities myself. Same for the sex-appeal situation. It was only when I got more comfy with myself did boys(REALLY REALLY CUTE BOYS)start checking me out, THANK GOD. And I’m still the same bubbly, geeky girl I was before they checked me out. The only difference was was that I’ve been working on liking myself more, and that somehow projects radiates off of me and gets hotties to check me out. So yeah. Just do you, and all will fall into place ;D

    http://spudzine.tumblr.com/
    http://emotwins.tumblr.com/
    http://rockogirl.tumblr.com/

  • strawberryhair January 22nd, 2014 1:59 PM

    ANAHEED. That was so. good. <3

    • strawberryhair January 22nd, 2014 2:09 PM

      Also Amy Rose be my big sister ugh it’s not even okay how cool you are

    • Anaheed January 22nd, 2014 2:29 PM

      Aww, thanks, hair-strawb!

    • AnaRuiz January 22nd, 2014 10:01 PM

      I agree. I guess it’s too early to say that your answer changed my life, but it at least helped me channel some feelings that I didn’t know how to put into arguments.

  • taste test January 22nd, 2014 7:36 PM

    Lola, your answer on privilege was really great. I’m pretty solidly middle-class, so I’m better off than a lot of people, but I’m going to a private college with some very rich people- and it’s also a very liberal college, so class privilege is an idea they have some familiarity with. a lot of them either bend over backwards to reassure the world they aren’t THAT rich (“yeah, my family has a couple summer houses, but they’re small and we share them with all my cousins’ families so you know no big deal lol”) or act like they hate their lives (“I wish my parents would stop buying me things and give the money to charity instead, I don’t deserve this, ugh”). it’s annoying as hell tbh. I know they’re trying but it’s unproductive and also kinda comes across as humblebragging. I wish I could print out your article and show it to them because “you can just be grateful” is something they really need to hear.

    http://xyzzyzzyzx.blogspot.com/

  • Anya N. January 22nd, 2014 7:56 PM

    amy rose is the only person that gives LEGIT, HELPFUL ROMANTIC advice FO REAL FO REALZ. she’s the real-life LUV doctor im tellin u. hahaha just think of how this compares to seventeen omfg i laugh, i laugh.

  • rhymeswithorange January 22nd, 2014 11:25 PM

    Amy Rose, the verb “adolescin’” hahahaha amazing

  • pizzaface January 23rd, 2014 5:07 AM

    I love Amy Rose’s answer, it’s so uplifting and helpful and full of ‘you go girl!’ vibes

  • Monroe January 23rd, 2014 10:15 AM

    As someone who grew up, and still is to be honest, very, very poor I feel compelled to comment.
    Lola, what your roommate did was not cool. I would never bring down a friend who was excited about something just because I don’t have the same privilege.
    I don’t believe in guilt tripping people for the crime of being born into a family who is fortunate enough to be able to provide them with things that makes them happy. It would be nice if we could all live that way. Unfortunately we can’t. Life is sort of a gamble, and through whatever chances of fate or decisions that end badly, some come out on top and some don’t. It is impossible to change this.
    I have NEVER resented it. I don’t believe in deluding myself that if others had less I would have more.
    Growing up I would listen to my friends gush about their vacations in Hawaii and see them take for granted their ipods and American girl dolls and designer clothes while I had no plumbing and was sleeping on the floor.
    And I was fine with it. Its frankly ridiculous and selfish to live your life expecting everyone to hide their financial good fortune from you and wallow in guilt because they committed the CRIME of being happy and having privileges that some people don’t.
    Should I cry over every plate of food because there are places in the world where children go hungry? We should always try and help those who have less but in between helping live your life, be happy and grateful, and don’t waste your time in useless pity that doesn’t help anybody.

    • champagnecoast January 25th, 2014 12:15 AM

      Thank you for this comment! I agree, what your roommate said wasn’t cool at all. For me it comes down to “don’t make other people feel like crap for being born into their circumstances” (whether that be wealth or otherwise)

    • January 25th, 2014 3:43 AM

      Completely agree (I grew up poor too). It wasn’t even like she was bragging about her parents buying her cool stuff, she’d saved up to be able to do cool stuff, and that’s a real achievement and I wouldn’t call anyone who can’t celebrate my achievements with me a friend.

      • nellie79 January 27th, 2014 6:27 PM

        I agree as well (also grew up poor), she clearly wasn’t bragging and the dude shouldn’t made her feel bad just cause she was born into a privileged family. Believe me, I have lots of friends who are upper middle class and I’d never make them feel bad about being excited for something they saved up for or if their parents are doing for something for them.

        Honestly I’m happy to see someone who is privileged and trying to become more aware regardless.

  • elliecp January 23rd, 2014 1:20 PM

    to the first question…I’ve found people often have opinions that do not agree with my own morals. The best thing to do is accept that that is how they feel, but basically take no notice and live the way YOU think is right. Don’t stress about it, and trust your gut.

    http://roseandvintage.blogspot.com/

  • chameleon22 January 24th, 2014 8:35 PM

    Hey Anaheed, I just wanted to mention that your answer meant a lot to me. in fact, I am commenting now because I returned to this page several days later to reread it. As someone who’s constantly falling in love with their friends, your advice was so comforting. Thanks.

    • Anaheed January 25th, 2014 12:33 AM

      Thank you so much for saying this! It warmed my heart. Constantly falling in love with your friends = evidence that you have a huge heart and haven’t let life reduce your capacity for love.

  • verosaysmoo January 25th, 2014 12:31 AM

    WONDERFUL. Thank you Rookie!

  • AmeliaWM January 29th, 2014 2:03 PM

    Thank you Amy Rose! I loved reading your response. You hit all the right notes and even pulled on a few o’ my heart strings :’) xoxo