Dear Amy: I am lucky enough to have found a group of people who share the same deep love and support for an international sports team. We meet up to watch the games, but we also enjoy each other’s company and see each other outside of match day.
We’ve established a group text that covers a range of topics. The makeup of the group is predominantly male. Occasionally, some casually misogynist language – one might call it “locker room talk” – will slip into a conversation. At first, it was gently commented on, but of course no one wants to be a killjoy, so now it just sort of ... happens.
I’ve spoken with the other women in the group, and everyone’s pretty uncomfortable with how these occurrences derail the conversation of an otherwise great space. None of the men involved ever speaks to the women in the group in remotely similar fashion face-to-face.
We don’t want to be harpies; we just don’t want to be reminded that the majority of people – even one’s we’re friends with – still see our presence in a group as the exception to the rule. Do you have any advice on how to address these momentary lapses in conversation judgment without making too many waves?
Not Just One-of-the-Guys
Dear Not Just: You have two options here. For option one I would like to paraphrase therapist-turned-Oscar-nominated-writer Emily V. Gordon: In a 2014 article written for The Toast, she stated that the word “inappropriate” is almost magic. In her experience, when she told someone that their behavior was inappropriate, the behavior would stop. This worked on the young and the old, in public and in private.
I can speak from experience here. She’s right.
The next time you see this type of behavior, go for something simple and direct. Getting a text that says “guys, that language is inappropriate” will correct this mortifying lapse in judgment, and having it in the text chain will serve as a reminder of what this group text is for.
If Gordon’s method doesn’t work, then it’s time to try option two: The Battering-Ram. You call out this sexist behavior for what it is ... sexism. It’s hard, but it gets results. This is not being a “harpy,” but offering an honest reaction to friends.
Dear Amy: If you were writing love letters to someone in anticipation of one day giving the letters to him, all the while suspecting that your roommate (his ex) would find them through snooping, would you continue to write said letters?
If there were any chance that someone other than him would get their greasy mitts on these letters, would you continue?
This guy doesn’t even know that I love him!
Should I let him go? Try to move on? There are a couple of other cuties out there, but this guy is special.
What do you think?
Caller No. 9
Dear Caller No. 9: You write like you’re living in a romantic comedy with this (typical) plot: Your crush will find one of your letters at the precisely perfect time, rush to your side and declare that it’s you – it’s always been you, of course! And it’s raining. (And he’s interrupted a wedding to run through the rain, for some undefined reason.)
If life followed movie plots, no one would actually get married because of all the objections raised at the church, every “nice girl” would be a florist or a bookshop owner and we’d all live in giant apartments. But real life doesn’t work like it does in the movies.
There’s nothing wrong with writing letters to a person that you like, but if you really do want to be with him, then you will have to tell him, not be sneaky or wait around for him to take a hint. Obsessing in the background is ever-so-slightly creepy. This is complicated by the fact that your roommate is his ex; you will have to decide if you can risk these relationships.
Equally important: if you don’t want your roommate to see the letters that you are writing to her ex-boyfriend, then don’t leave them somewhere where she can find them.
Dear Amy: “Pregnant, But Still Able” insisted on sitting on the floor at her office, rather than accept a chair offered by a male colleague. Thank you for pointing out that it is rude to refuse a kindness.
I actually agree with you –- for once!
Dear Reader: We’re at a tough point, culturally, where polite men are being slammed for their politeness. This, too, shall pass.
Email Amy at email@example.com.