By Taylor Wolf | Web and Social Media Editor
Don’t get me wrong. I love Joey from “Friends.” I’m definitely a fan. I just think there’s a major problem with his relationship with his female BFFs on the show.
Joey is often described as a womanizer who is actually very caring, innocent and well-intentioned. The care he has for his friends is evident throughout the show, especially when he defends his gal pals and is protective of them. However, he can also be very disrespectful and gross toward Phoebe, Monica and Rachel. Joey is also very disrespectful of the women he dates. Chandler also has many moments of gross behavior and treatment of women, but for the sake of the argument, I’m choosing to focus on Joey specifically because his disrespect and inappropriate behavior toward women plays a large role in his character and the dynamic between him and the girls on the show.
Joey often makes sexual remarks or comments toward the women in the group or alludes to his excitement over the sight of them in an embrace or falling on top of each other. In the episode “The One With the Fake Party,” Rachel asks for a hand with her zipper. Joey goes to help, but he starts to unzip it instead, and Rachel promptly clarifies, “UP!” He then smirks and zips her dress up. When he’s finished, he acts as though he’s brushing lint or something off the back of her dress when he very obviously is just brushing his hand on her butt. She just looks at him, and he stops and walks away after giving the “OK” sign with his hands.
I don’t understand Phoebe, Monica and Rachel’s reactions to him most of the time as they kind of just brush his actions off as, “Oh it’s just Joey being Joey.” Just because Joey is generally a good guy, his really gross and unacceptable behavior gets tolerated, and, as I watch the show, I think, “Man I’d never want to put up with that every day. Especially from my best guy friend.” I don’t believe that kind of treatment or behavior from a guy friend is acceptable nor should be tolerated. It’s disrespectful and objectifying, yet normalized in this close friendship setting on the show. I think the platonic men in a woman’s life should be the first ones to show her how she is supposed to be treated, respected and cared for by a man.
The show aired while we were in elementary school, yet it is a favorite among college students. I hope we don’t watch it and think that is just the way some guys are with their gal pals, and that’s OK. It shouldn’t be. Your inner circle is the place where you should feel safe. Hopefully, that also means safety from sexually aggressive comments, harassment or advances. A joke is a joke, but respect is also respect.
If you really, deeply care about your friends, regardless of their gender, they should consistently be shown love in all its forms — including honor, loyalty and respect. Respect is one of the most important forms of love. Guys and girls should set an example of how to treat each other, and how they know they should be treated by others.
So guys, I challenge you to think about how you treat your girl friends. Are you treating them with respect? Are you showing them what real respect through love looks like, and how they should be treated by a romantic interest? And girls, think about how you allow yourself to be treated. Know that you deserve respect always, no matter who it’s from. Don’t just tolerate a certain behavior because “boys will be boys.”
I think “Friends” is a great show. It always makes me laugh and is incredibly well-written. However, I don’t agree with some of its undertones, especially when it comes to the disrespect the characters show each other at times. I love Joey. I think his character can be really sweet, adorable and absolutely hilarious. But his gross, sexual aggressiveness toward women, especially his close gal pals is not right. In the show, the other characters will occasionally tell him what he’s doing is gross, but it’s mostly just blown off because that’s just how Joey is. This type of mentality should’ve ended with the show in 2004.