Do people really put people in zones?
Forgive me if I've made this sound more sinister than it actually is. I don't think people put others in some sort of zone, but rather the phrase is a way someone self identifies their relationship as platonic and yet wishing for more. It's not about taking the people you have and sorting them, it's about the feeling that you missed out on romantic eligibility.
I think what more important is how people choose to behave after rejection. I think this is where a person is in the friend zone versus being a friend. Being a friend is more genuine, and your relationship is not built on some sort of agenda for something greater
(read as: "pleasurable genital collisions"). Thinking of yourself as being in the friend zone is an exercise in denial. It isn't polite. If I befriend a women who has rejected me because I think I can win her affection later (you know, when she finally comes around...), I'm in essence objectifying her and forcing an expectation of romantic return. In other words, If I hang around and show her what a darling guy I am, I'll eventually win her heart (like I'm entitled). I am NOT saying this is good, and for what times I've let myself fall mental trap to this bad behavior, I'm not proud. I'm just sharing what it's felt like, and what I think about it now in retrospect. Pop media teen movies do not help this mentality...
I can't speak from women, but I think that they are less likely to put a man on a pedestal in this
On the other side of this, I think some women enjoy the knowledge that some of their male friends romantically desire them. They enjoy this in spite of no desire to return any of these feelings, and don't take any action to liberate the man or dispel him from the idea that one day they might be together. In these cases, I see many women objectifying the men that adore them. These men become a pillow to the ego.
Given the two terrible examples of men and women behaving badly, I'd say that often both happen at the same time. You'll have a guy objectifying the woman by putting her on some absurd pedestal, and the woman objectifying the man back by using him as a psychological accessory.
I don't know how this plays out in other generations and genders (I can only guess), but I think that other men my age would mostly agree with my summary.