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Editorial Beth Thayne and Theodor Hall
mask is defined by the Oxford English dictionary as “a covering for all or part of the face, worn as a disguise, or to amuse or frighten others.” We see masks at fancy dress parties, in theatres, at masquerade balls – celebrations and festivals. The mask as a commercial object is a symbol of illusion and magic. However, the term ‘mask’ is also synonymous with words such as ‘disguise’, ‘veil’, and ‘false face’. Masks are worn in order to alter appearances, in order to transform reality. A mask is no longer just a physical part of a costume, but rather a concept. To mask something is to hide its true identity. Across our continent, more and more people are masking themselves and their beliefs. Masking now takes on many forms - political rhetoric, societal agendas, the covering up of scandals, a lack of transparency, and media censorship. We’ve reached the stage where our society is masked so elaborately that
we can often find ourselves overwhelmed. Therefore it is now time for us, the future of Europe, to begin unmasking the society in which we live. It’s time to peel away the skin of our fruitless society and let it ripen. As masking takes on many forms, so too does the act of unmasking. Unmasking means making discoveries, exploring new ideas, accepting new cultures. It means transparency and honesty. The masks across Europe are now so extensive that they cannot be removed with ease. It will take time and co-operation and a fresh approach to the problems and issues that have been faced by our previous generations. In order to unmask your Europe, you have to explore beyond your regions, beyond your borders. You have to be open minded and prepared to face the reality that lies behind the mask. Most importantly, you must be willing to remove your own mask and face the reality of the situation you find yourself in.
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Too Big to Fail: Project Banking Union 4 The Far Right of Europe 6 Opacity in the South 8 Money Gone Missing 10 The Giant is Drinking our Money 12 Building a European Parliament to be Proud of 14 A New World Cup 16 How to Escape the Friendzone 18
Too Big to Fail:
Project Banking Union
#nscv2014 Henriikka Hakala analyses the aftermath of the
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euro crisis: the EU being at a crossroad, it can opt either for further integration or consider whether the eurozone should take some steps back in order to ensure a brighter future for Europe.
n June 2012, EU Heads of State and Government decided to establish a banking union which has, however, been awaiting implementation ever since. On the 20th of March this year, the EU was on the brink of deciding the next steps of the economic and monetary union. After thorough discussions, it opted for a more integrated, stronger framework known as the banking union. When financial crisis hit Europe in 2008, there were 27 completely different regulatory systems for banks in place. They were based on national rules and lacked tools to deal with the unprecedented collapse of cross-border banks. As a result, the European Commission came up with an idea that banks should be better regulated, as well as supervised, so that they could become stronger and benefit the economy on a larger scale. Without proper supervision, even rigorous regulation may become worthless. The banking union turned out to be a solution which would ensure financial stability and sustainable recovery from the crisis. Meant especially for the eurozone countries, the banking union is at the same time open to all non-euro Member States who are willing to join. The roadmap for the banking union includes the creation of the Single Supervisory Mechanism (SSM) and the Single Resolution
Mechanism (SRM). A single multinational Deposit Guarantee, a prevalent topic in the media, is not being implemented at this stage. However, the EU has agreed on the Deposit Guarantee Scheme (DGS), as a part of a single rulebook applicable to all financial institutions in the Single Market, which will ensure that every Member State has a deposit guarantee that is properly funded. The SSM consists of the authorisation of all banks in Europe and the direct supervision of the most significant banks, including all banks that have assets worth more than €30 billion or constitute at least 20% of their home country’s GDP. The SSM being established, the European Central Bank reserves the right to directly supervise any of the credit institutions to ensure that high supervisory standards are being met. The mechanism is open to all non-euro Member States and is governed by a separate Supervisory Board and the ECB Governing Council. However, according to the EC, “clear separation between the ECB’s monetary tasks and supervisory tasks is being fully ensured.” Even though the SSM is a comprehensive tool, severe liquidity and solvency problems cannot be excluded. That is why adequate funding arrangements need to be implemented to support supervision. The SRM will ensure that if a bank that is part of the Single Supervi-
sory Mechanism faces major problems, its resolution will be managed efficiently. The bodies deciding on actions of the SRM will be a Single Resolution Board, the EC, the Council and the European Central Bank. When it comes to cross-border failures, the SRM will work more efficiently than a network of national resolution authorities alone. Should a bank be rescued, the ECB would first inform the Board, the EC and national resolution authorities relevant for the case. After that the Board will meet two times: in a full session and in an executive session. The mechanism will enter into force in the beginning of 2015. All in all, the banking union should rebuild confidence in the eurozone’s banking sector. That being said, the impasse with the European Parliament will come to end as the EC and the MEPs have succeeded in completing a demanding process of creating a comprehensive framework. As Corien Wortmann-Kool, a Dutch MEP put it, “This is a credible system that we can defend and be proud of.” According to ECB President Mario Draghi, “Financial integration and the single currency are in many ways two sides of the same coin.” It seems that the banking union completes the circle and the eurozone has been given a chance for a fresh start.
The Far Right Of Europe Nikola Uzelac considers the influence of far right movements on the situation in Ukraine and hangs out the dirty laundry of the Ukrainian fight for Europe.
henever things get hard, people become more united than ever before. It is this that has shaped our world today. We devised our environment to suit us and our mentality. Different mentalities allowed the way in which we change our destiny to be as diverse as possible. Mentality can simply be determined by the geographical position of a country. It is always noticeable in the ways that different countries deal with the same situation. So can you go and criticise a countryâ€™s decision and the way it is fighting for a better tomorrow, especially when you are not from that country? Yes, you can. When can you do that? Only when you can envision where the situation will lead to in the next couple of years or even decades. We have all been given the gift to discern what is morally right and wrong. In most situations, this is not an issue. However, a problem arises when we turn off our subjectivity.
#nscv2014 The situation in Ukraine went from a minor con-
cern to the most talked about drama in Europe startlingly fast. People simply wanted something new, and they found a way to fight for it, since it wasn’t something that could be negotiated simply. Ukrainians took to the streets, took the government down and established a new one. As simple as that. Or is it? Have you ever asked yourselves what measures were included, besides taking over the streets and the government, just for the sake of attaining a new beginning? The facts are always on the table, but the media are the ones choosing the way the world sees these facts. Sometimes we have to stop listening to media and simply go beyond. The Ukrainian fight for Europe has a lot of dirty laundry still squashed under its bed and of course it is not mentioned because the media want to avoid contradiction and dangerous controversy at all costs. In the case of Ukraine the rarely spoken names are those of the political party “Svoboda” and its leader Oleh Tyahnybok, one of three leaders of opposition. Svoboda took several important positions in the new government. Andrei Parubei, who was promoted to Secretary of Defence and National Security after the fall of Yanukovitch`s government, is a man all of Europe should be wary of. It is commonly known that he established a Hitler-based Social nationalist party of Ukraine - only Ukranians were allowed to enter the party-, from which emerged Svoboda, which was the 4th place party in the last parliamentary elections in Ukraine, winning 36 seats in the parliament. During protests in Kiev, after taking over the city hall they erected a banner reading “White Power” and a portrait of Stefan Bandera, “freedom fighter” and Hitler supporter. Be-
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sides Nazi salutes and banners with swastikas, Tyahnybok and his party are also known to hate Russians and fuel the tension between the two nations. Additionally, and frighteningly, he declared not so long ago that he aims to slaughter all Jews and Russians. Whether this is just extremist propaganda aimed at a fascist audience or an attempt to grab worldwide attention, Europe, you should be worried. Ask yourselves this : is this European? Excuses such as ‘it is for the sake of higher purpose’ or ‘for the common good’ cannot be taken into account. That’s the way Ukraine chose to fight for Europe and that is all. Because of this policy, Ukranian integration in the EU will be endangered. It has to be clarified that the right wing parties such as Svoboda have utilised the current situation in order to secure a place in their country’s politics. Europe should ask itself where this leads? How can we possibly know that the right wingers of Ukraine won`t change the course of Ukraine and destroy all the efforts that have been made towards a progressive democratic society? One thing is for sure – the issue must not be left to hang in the air too long, no matter how dirty the laundry is. It must be brought in, folded and ironed at some point. Considering the situation as a whole and the eurointegration of Ukraine, we must not leave this laundry lying around any longer.
Opacity IN The South 8
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Southern Europe has taken the worst part of the recession. Ignasi Cortés looks into one of the main factors of the social and economic crisis that continues to prevail.
olitical transparency has recently become a primary European issue. Some of the parties that have come into power in the last three or four years have failed to act according to their pre-election agenda. This is considered a primary issue as it goes against the idea of democracy, the political philosophy all Europeans are so proud of and already take for granted. This is a major issue in southern countries, where economic instability has led to political instability; Italy is the clearest example of this problem, as there have been several changes in power in the last five years. As mentioned before, economic instability is a major cause of a lack of transparency within a government; the reason for this is most likely a lack of preparation on behalf of the party entering government, or a misjudgment of the true fiscal situation of the country. For instance, when Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy was inaugurated back in December 2011, he had promised he would never raise taxes to face the crisis, since he believed that encouraging consumption and investment through expansionary policies was the solution. However, in his first budget plan, the PP government, right wing and led by Rajoy, ended up raising indirect taxes such as IVA (Spanish Value Added Tax) in September 2012, which in basic products like food rose from 10 to 21%. The reason for this was the elevated percentage of public debt as part of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), which was at 93.90% in 2013.
The political and social answers to these measures were generally negative, both from the Spanish conservatives and the socialists. The conservatives argued that, as a right wing party, PP could not raise taxes, as it was a more left wing policy, more pro-government than pro-free market. On the other hand, the socialists and other left wing parties criticized the fact that the taxes raised were the indirect ones; these are considered regressive taxes, where the poor pay a higher percentage of their income than the rich. The measure would cause an unequal distribution of income among the population, and actually this has been proven by recent studies showing Spain as one of the countries with the largest gap in wealth. The point is that the government did not accomplish its campaign promises and caused a social conflict, reducing productivity and preventing the country from economic recovery. Another situation exemplifying a lack of political transparency is Greece. The main problem in this country, however, is corruption – a recent EU survey suggests that only one Greek in ten thinks there are enough corruption prosecutions with strong enough punishments. Corruption is the other main form that a lack of transparency takes in politics and again, the Member States in the south are harmed most by this issue. Returning to the example of Greece, the problem has reached the roots of society; it has been unpunished for so long that a “crisis of values” has developed,
since the Greeks have seen too many powerful politicians and businessmen break the rules and get away with it. The society has consequently become outrageous, and there are riots on an almost daily basis. For a country that has the highest unemployment rate among Member States the frequency of the strikes is futile. Added to the structural problem in the Greek economy, corruption forms a lethal combination that sets Greece in limbo, further from recovery. Although the two scenarios portrayed above are different, they are linked to an extent – Spain has serious corruption issues, which affect even the Prime Minister, and the Greek government is not accomplishing its promises due to the pressure that comes from Europe and particularly Germany. A lack of political transparency can be considered, then, a nemesis to productivity and efficiency within a mixed economy system. Essentially, if a government lies to its people, they will tend to go on strike, or simply protest and reduce the productivity of the economy. Transparency is more of a value to be achieved than a political or legal feature, and Southern Europe countries’ governments must understand that without this effort and without a change in mentality in the political class in general, a greater wealth gap between the North and the South will be generated, and hence, the European Union will tear apart completely.
ear after year, European firms and citizens withhold a 13-digit sum from the 28 EU-countries’ administration through more or less legal means. This estimated one trillion loss of revenue corresponds to six times the EU’s annual budget, or twice the EU-27’s total budget deficit of 514 billion euros. The number should of course be treated with caution as it remains speculative and little more than an inspired guess; nonetheless it gives a good approximation of the problem’s scale. The main issue with tax evasion is that it leads to a vicious circle. The more people and companies choosing to evade taxes, the more money the state loses. To compensate for this effect, taxes have to be increased - which in turn leads to more tax evasion. After all, studies have established a significant link between tax rates and the frequency and extent of tax evasion. It is important, however, to draw a clear distinction between tax avoidance and tax evasion. Whereas the latter is a criminal offence mostly involving fraud or forgery, the former refers to tax optimisation by relocation and thereby making use of very low tax rates on foreign profits or setting up holding constructs. Avoiding taxes is perfectly legal and the reason for tax competition between countries to work, its morality on the other hand is a very different question. The president of the European Commission, José-Manuel Barroso has repeatedly called such practices “unacceptable” and the EU is on a constant search for new methods
to combat tax evasion and thereby increase tax revenue without changing its rates. But within the EU, there is no common position. In early March, Luxembourg temporarily blocked a policy proposal implementing EU-wide automatic exchange of data on bank deposits because the country feared a drastic competitive disadvantage compared to other banking hubs such as Switzerland, which is not part of the EU and therefore not bound to its legislation. Luxembourg has now made its acceptance of the proposal dependent on the outcome of SwissEU bilateral talks on the issue. As tax regulation and tax decisions lie exclusively in the competence of Member States, the Council of Ministers’ decisions on such issues require unanimity. With tax evasion being a problem on a varying scale throughout Europe, and some countries’ banking sectors even profiting from people seeking to hide their assets, finding a common ground can often prove difficult. Banking secrecy is yet another hindrance to effectively combat tax evasion, as the tracking down of offenders is highly complicated. Throughout the EU, banking secrecy has been abolished, but some countries do still adhere to the principle – in Switzerland, the number one recipient of untaxed EU-assets, a popular initiative aims to make financial privacy a constitutional right. Heavily practiced deregulation of the banking sector in the years leading up to the 2008 financial crisis has also proven to facilitate the circumvention of taxes.
Tax evasion isn’t solely a problem for Europe’s treasuries, but is also detrimental to social goals as it adds to the gap between rich and poor. The principle of progressive taxation leads to after-tax incomes being more equally distributed than before-tax incomes. Additionally, the increase in state deficit resulting from tax evasion can lead to a cut in social expenditure and thereby endanger the social contract of the state providing services in exchange for the citizen’s taxes. There have been a variety of actions proposed to combat tax evasion in the EU. The first and probably most important measure is to aim for improved cooperation and exchange of information between states. To facilitate tracking the flow of money within the EU, Tax Identification Numbers (TINs) for companies located in Europe have been proposed. Allegedly this could reduce corporate tax evasion within EUstates by 70%. The second planned measure is a common rulebook for corporate taxation across Europe, the Common Consolidated Corporate Tax Base, which would include an allocation form of a company’s tax revenues to all the countries in Europe it is active in. Whichever measure the EU manages to implement, only time can show whether an effective attempt at increasing tax revenue can be achieved. After all, combatting a crime and thereby improving a country’s economic outlook is not that bad a combination.
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Money gone missing An estimated trillion euros are lost to EU Member states each year due to tax evasion and avoidance. YANNICK WEBER elaborates on the publicâ€™s tax morals in the EU and the economic impact of tax evasion.
GIANT Is Drinking The
Nerea Martinez explains how Chinese businesses manage to succeed in a sinking global economy.
hile European countries seek help to escape the never ending economic crisis, businesses keep turning their backs on the problem. In this time of economic instability, everyone looks out for their own interests, at their own benefits and ignores the situation of those around them. Where should our hopes lie when everyone turns their back on their problem? Should we even still hope for a full European recovery? Just take the example of Coca Cola, a reputable business from which each and every one one of you probably consume, a business which targets each and every market segment of the world and sells in every imaginable corner. According to them you can “open happiness” when you open a can; but what you are really doing is opening a door towards supporting child labour and financing China’s economic development. After their 10 year grant expired, Coca Cola didn’t hesitate to close their factory in Madrid down. This resulted in more than 1200 people losing their jobs, more than 1200 families losing their stable income and source of survival. One might think to themselves that Coca Cola was facing some sort of economic downfall, that they were also affected by this on-going crisis. But after looking at their financial figures, after realising they managed to generate a $900 million profit in 2013 alone, closing these plants just seems to be purely for pleasure; es-
pecially taking into account Spain’s unemployment rate which is gradually increasing and currently lies at an infuriating 26%. Furthermore, Coca Cola has planned a 4 billion euro investment in China during the next 2 years and currently owns more than 45 production plants around the country. Workers have been reporting abuse cases such as being beaten by managers, working 365 days a year without breaks and being paid below 3 euros per hour. This is actually what you are opening the door to when you buy from these businesses, and what is even worse is that most of us are aware of the problem and decide to ignore it, but still feel confident enough to criticise their country’s failure. What is even worse is that not only do these massive multinationals leave our countries and raise unemployment levels, but our national businesses have also got to compete with these giants and with these unbelievable, inhumane, low costs. This is only an incentive to lower production costs in European businesses, to pay our workers even less and worsen their working conditions. Even with these new working practices businesses adapt in order to remain in the running against Chinese competitors, even with the tariffs and quotas imposed on Chi-
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nese imports; national based businesses fail to decrease their selling prices as much as the Chinese do. What is the solution then? Banning Chinese imports? Punishing those businesses which move into China? Stop buying from Chinese firms? None of these are realistic measures. We cannot control China’s power nor buyers habits. People buy according to several principles such as location, product or price. Some people search for a unique product which is fashionable, others just buy the most expensive brand they can find in order to show off their economic power; but most people nowadays buy according to price. When people have little disposable income, they must carefully choose where they are spending their money. Clearly speaking, Chinese firms get most of the customers as they are the ones offering lower prices. Instead of trying to stop Chinese intervention in our countries we should focus all our efforts in promoting national businesses’ expansion. Grants and tax reductions which can help national businesses reduce their selling prices are the best option. This does not mean that the government will stop raising money, but instead they’ll gain their income from Chinese businesses interested in selling in our markets. China is already a world power and its GDP is still growing at a rate of nearly 10% per annum. So we cannot ignore nor avoid their presence in our markets. The only useful tip for our national businesses: don’t be put off by their presence, fight to keep the loyalty of your customers instead of trying to compete with their same price strategies and never give up!
Building a Phoebe Dodds explores the inefficiency of the European Parliament, and what can be done about it.
he European Parliament has faced great challenges in recent years – notably in the form of extremely low voter turnout in European Parliamentary elections, which reflects the wider issue of its relevance to people’s lives. Across the 28 Member States of the EU, only 43% of registered voters turned up to vote in the 2009 European Parliamentary elections and voter turnout is currently at less than 50% in 10 of 28 Member States. There are many ways to explain this. Amongst them, the fact that many people just do not care about the European Parliament. Those who do are often disillusioned by it, although it is important to note that it is not wholly inefficient – some example of its achievements are implementing tougher laws on re-
forming the financial sector and Europe’s banking union and reforming the EU’s common fisheries policy, which was infamous for being exceedingly mismanaged. The European Parliament has many problems that it needs to face before it can start to regain the trust of Europe’s citizens. Firstly, legislators have been known to take advantage of the European Parliament’s generous expenses scheme, with the worst offenders often coming from far-right parties. However, the costs of MEPs for travel, amongst other things, are higher than those of National MPs as they have to attend the Parliament in Strasbourg. It is important for the European Parliament to be fully transparent when it comes to people taking advantage of expens-
es, but it must also justify to European citizens the amount of money that MEPs receive in allowances. In order to remove the public’s perception that MEPs are ‘milking the system’, there should be a zero-tolerance treatment of those who do take advantage of it, and the European public should be very aware that these people are being dealt with in a severe manner. In order to fully remove the negative image surrounding this issue, MEPs belonging to the mainstream centre-left, liberal and centre-right groups know that their own behaviour has to be perfect in order to win back the trust of European citizens. Many have lost faith in the European Parliament partly due to its general inefficiency, but also because the sectors that polls have shown
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To be proud of
matter most to voters are managed by Member States; education, direct taxation and health being some of the most important. European citizens do not feel like the European Parliament is something they need to concern themselves with, and European elections are of secondary importance to national ones. It is a fact that people will always identify more with their own country than with Europe but this does not mean that the European Parliament cannot have an impact for European citizens. It could start to improve its image by working on a small number of policies that demonstrate the use and importance of the European Parliament – this would make people realise that their elections are just as important as national elections and would improve voting
turnout. It is vital that the European Parliament shows it makes a difference on a higher political level and equally in a way that improves the lives of ordinary people. The European Parliament is relatively new, especially in comparison to older national Parliaments, and therefore the MEPs need to work hard to earn respect and their place in the political framework. They need to demonstrate that they are of as high quality as national MPs, that they can have a large impact on the lives of their constituents, and that they have very high ethical and professional standards. This is of particular importance as new entrants join the EU – new MEPs need to immediately demonstrate that they can work efficiently and with full transparency, which will help in
improving the institution’s overall image. MEPs should command the same respect as national MPs do. They should also work to achieve a higher profile so that European citizens can gain a better idea of what the European Parliament does. The European Parliament should incorporate some of the features of national parliaments in Europe which have been very successful: for example, the high ethics of the UK Parliament, the German willingness to compromise, the innovative and progressive style of some of emerging countries of Eastern Europe, and the drive and determination of others such as the Irish in the way they have dealt with the economic crisis. This would improve the efficiency and therefore the public’s image of the European Parliament.
#nscv2014 Valencia NSC 2014 Comparing strategies adopted by Spain and Germany to fight economic recession, MATEU TOMI tells us what Spain can learn from Germany and what it can’t.
ver since the start of the economic crisis and the recession, southern European countries have been heavily struck by the consequences; their GDP has decreased at a worryingly fast pace, corruption scandals can be found almost everywhere, youth unemployment rates are through the roof, and the widely used saying ‘the rich get richer and the poor get poorer’ is a common phrase for a reason – it’s true. That doesn’t mean that countries in the North haven’t been harmed by the crisis that Europe is dealing with. Although the austerity measures adopted by both northern and southern Member States are starting to prove useful, total recovery is still a very minuscule dot on the horizon. That, however, doesn’t imply that the pace at which both regions of Europe are recovering is equal. There are aspects to the strategies adopted by northern countries - such as Germany - that are not present in recovery plans in Spain. An example of this is mini-jobs, a strategy implemented in Germany that consists of part-time jobs that are normally filled by university students. A single mini-job doesn’t cover all of their living expenses, so an average student normally takes two or more mini-jobs in order to earn what they need to survive. The implementation of these jobs in countries such as Spain or Italy has been widely questioned, mainly because the south is perceived to be less efficient than the northern regions of Europe. Leaving stereotypes aside, it is true that the mental-
ity of the Spanish youth is incredibly different from their European peers. As can be seen in our Session’s timetable, things are approached in a much more relaxed manner, for example having lunch at two, three or even four in the afternoon, an aspect that foreign officials are not keen on. Take this lifestyle outside of an EYP session and you have a phenomenon unique to Spain, known as ‘nini’ (people from ages 18 to 25 who neither work or study), which is the greatest obstacle in the way of implementing recovery strategies that work in northern Europe. The attitude to of laziness in Spain is one of the most prevalent handicaps that prevents effective reactivation of a young labour force, but keeping the current situation as it is will make an economic recovery almost impossible. The ‘ni-ni’ movement is a symbol of Spain’s relaxed philosophy, and also the failure of it. Considering the integration of minijobs into Spain just because it works relatively well in Germany is not a valid excuse to adopt it here. In fact, mini-jobs are not that helpful at all in Germany. Whilst they seemingly reduce the country’s unemployment rate, most young people are against these kinds of jobs, because they are forced to take more than one of them in order to make a living, which in turn prevents the student from gaining experience in areas related to their studies. Whilst the mini-job system has been protested in the past, the circumstances in Germany remain the same. One cannot imagine the introduc-
tion of mini-jobs in Spain without instantly recognising the problems which would inevitably arise. First of all, nobody possesses the resources nor the desire to hire inexperienced students to work half-time without being properly motivated, especially if they are forced to take the job by external circumstances. This lack of motivation on the part of employers leads to graduate students struggling to enter the job market; employers seek potential workers who have at least a couple years of experience, which forces these graduates to take a stop-gap job which, in the end, becomes permanent. Yes, you can say that internships are the solution to this pickle, but internships allow students to work for companies in order to gain experience, however many employers now take advantage of the students’ desperation to gain this experience and as such, most internships are unpaid and often do not provide the experience the students were expecting, and thus the original purpose of an internship is shadowed a modern slavery of sorts. Overall, Spain and Germany share some traits that can be used as a foundation for successful economic recovery. However, Spain has many limitations; a relaxed mentality and attitude towards life means that many Spaniards can accept that in a battle of economies, Germany is the victor but the Spanish mentality also allows Spain to justify that whilst Germany may meet their goals economically, they couldn’t attain their goals in the world cup.
or many of us, this mysterious territory comes into existence at the point where you would like to be in a relationship, or simply intimate, with somebody who regards you as no more than a platonic friend. Both girls and guys alike use the term, but it would be fair for me to say that it is predominantly a male concept, applied when girls do not reciprocate their advances. Having said this, it is widely accepted and used by women too, and known by all genders to be a bad place to be in. So how can those held captive in this place of perpetual and painful friendship be saved? Step one is to recognise what a ridiculous and disgusting idea ‘the friend zone’ truly is. Think for a moment. We live in a culture where sexual assault is prevalent, where an astonishingly low number of assaults are reported and even fewer are prosecuted. A culture proliferated by those who demand more from others than they are happy and willing to give. A culture in which statistics show that you are more likely to be sexually assaulted by somebody that you know, than somebody you do not. And here, hidden in plain sight,
we have a term used to negatively describe a time when somebody does not want to give you what you want. A term that places blame on a person for simply not wanting to be involved with you to a greater extent than friendship. Because being ‘Friend Zoned’ is not a nice thing to have happen to you, and so that person doing it to you is often considered equally unpleasant. Step two comes here, and it takes you to realise that sex, relationships, and intimacy are not forms of currency. They are not something required of an individual, just because you were kind to them, friendly to them, or flirted uncomfortably with them. Being nice is not a job, and the desire to be nice to someone should be grounded in simply being a decent human being. If doing so gains you the attention of someone you would like to be further involved with, then great. But if you’re being nice just to get what you want, with little true concern for them, then you do not deserve any further attention of the person whose time you are wasting. Do not get me wrong, I entirely understand how painful it can be to be in a situation in which your feelings are unrequited. Finding yourself there does not make you a bad person, and there is nothing wrong with
you at all. But it is important to recognise that there is nothing wrong with the other person either. What is wrong in this instance is the assumption that the second person involved here wanting you as a friend is a bad thing. Step three is the most important. It concerns what was recently labelled as “The Monster Myth”, and is the acceptance of just how important this issue is. Some of you reading this might question that. As I mentioned earlier, we live in a time where sexual assault is not just something that takes place in dark alleys, at the hands of psychotic strangers. It takes place in homes, it takes place at parties, and it takes place far more often than many of us realise. In part, that is invariably due this culture in which we have normalised ideas such as ‘The Friend Zone’. Accepted the idea that there must be more to someone “striking out” than just a person utilising their free will. A ‘no’ from somebody means just that, and there’s no further justification or debate of what’s going on needed. And that’s how you escape ‘The Friend Zone’. You realise just how stupid it is, you stop using it, and you accept that actually, just being someone’s friend isn’t the end of the world.
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How To F r i e n d
For a large portion of you, the concept and feeling of what is known as ‘The Friend Zone’ will be all too familiar; never fear, Caley Routledge is here to show you how to escape it.
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