I'm at a loss for words, darling...
May 31, 2011 7:07 PM   Subscribe

Occasionally, my boyfriend makes remarks about womankind that I find sexist and hurtful. Last night, I called him out on such a remark. Was I overreacting? How should I handle this the next time it happens?

(Background: Boyfriend and I have been together for over two years, living together for eight months. We're generally very happy together, and the stuff I'm about to describe doesn't approach a DTMFA situation. He's 34, and I'm 24).

I identify as a feminist; my boyfriend does not. He's generally pretty egalitarian (pro-choice, understands the wage gap and why it's such a big deal, never participates in slut-shaming or victim-blaming), but once in a blue moon he'll make a weird statement/comment based on negative stereotypes of women, and often these comments seem to stem from a belief that women are a monolithic group with the same interests and personality traits. These remarks tend to make me really uncomfortable/sad/annoyed.

Examples:
(about a new co-worker) “Karen's good at her job, but I can't stand how chatty and gossipy she is. Still, that's pretty typical for a woman, I guess.”
(after I got in a heated argument with a friend) “Haha, why are you women always so catty?”
“On average, men tend to be more logical and rational than women.”
lots of comments about how all women adore babies, shopping, etcetera.

Usually, I try to gently point out that these stereotypes are unhelpful and not terribly accurate. For instance, after he made the comment from my first example, I said something like “Karen does sound a little annoying, but I'm not sure I agree that most women are chatty and gossipy. I'm female, and I don't have those traits. Neither does your mom, or our friend Leslie.” He tends to shrug my responses off, or he'll say something like “Well, yeah, but you know what I meant. On average, women are more [insert bad trait here].”

Last night, he said something that I found particularly offensive, and I wasn't as tactful as usual in my response. We had been watching an episode of a dramatic TV show, wherein the male protagonist finds out that the child he has been raising isn't biologically his. Boyfriend turns to me and says “I'm not surprised. Women are often devious about that sort of thing.” I asked him to clarify what he meant by “devious”. His response: “Well, you know. Women are a lot more deceptive and conniving than men, particularly within the context of personal relationships. Lying about paternity, and sabotaging birth control, and stuff like that.”

I snapped at him: “Sometimes, you say things that make it sound like you just don't like women very much.” I felt bad about it and apologized almost immediately, because it's not a fair characterization; he treats his female friends, relatives, and colleagues with fairness and respect. He accepted my apology and in turn apologized for offending me. I explained that his comments upset me, because I feel that the “women-are-manipulative-demons” stereotype has been used for centuries as a justification for marginalization and abuse. He wasn't defensive, and said that he understood my point, but he became sad and withdrawn. He said that he was very hurt and confused to hear that I consider his remarks sexist, and he says that he still doesn't understand what was sexist about them. In his view, the comments he makes that I find offensive are just him pointing out interesting minor differences between the sexes.

I would love some advice and perspective. Did I overreact? Underreact? What would be the best way for me to act, if more situations like this arise in the future: should I try to use my boyfriend's comments as opportunities for teaching moments, or should I ignore them? Or do I just need to lighten up?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (100 answers total) 23 users marked this as a favorite
 
I'd consider how he actually acts day to day to be more important, but with that having been said, I guess what is occurring is he has internalized society's negative messages about gender and is totally unaware how off base these assumptions are.

I guess what I'd do when the topic comes up is give him an example with the sexes reversed, i.e. all men are such and thus -make it a negative statement. When he objects, just smile and say-exactly.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 7:11 PM on May 31, 2011 [7 favorites]


I think it sounds like you have a legitimate concern about his outlook on women. I don't think snapping is probably the best way to deal with it, but an open discussion about his preconceptions about women and your thoughts on it can only be a good thing, for thoughtful communication of your outlooks, if nothing else.
posted by xingcat at 7:12 PM on May 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm sorry this has happened. That sounds upsetting. I don't think you overreacted. When I hear what he is saying, I cringe. I wonder if you might benefiting from taking time to reflect on his vallues and how else they might come out in his conduct. Values are very difficult to change. You haven't been together very long in the grand scheme of things and I wonder how else these values might come out over time. This does not mean DTMFA. But it may be worth exploring these things in more depth - possibly in couples counselling - so you can better understand them.
posted by acoutu at 7:12 PM on May 31, 2011 [3 favorites]


He said that he was very hurt and confused to hear that I consider his remarks sexist, and he says that he still doesn't understand what was sexist about them. In his view, the comments he makes that I find offensive are just him pointing out interesting minor differences between the sexes.

It's good you've started this conversation with him, you should give him some books to read.
posted by fuq at 7:13 PM on May 31, 2011 [3 favorites]


For what it's worth, I would have reacted about the same. I don't think that calling women conniving or devious is pointing out an "interesting minor difference between the sexes."

I think in this case it's not whether you're right, or he's right. It's that what he's doing hurts you, and if he cares about you, he should cut it out. That's it.
posted by christinetheslp at 7:13 PM on May 31, 2011 [25 favorites]


I think you should lighten up. The best way to lighten up is to dump your immature boyfriend. Seriously, who says that sort of shit and believes it? What sort of 34 year old dates a 24 year old?

Come on, if he's saying that shit to you, he's saying worse to his buddies. And then he pouts when you call him out? That's just foolishness you don't need to be dealing with.

I know you said this was DTMFA territory for you, but really, I don't see much point in being with someone who has such a shitty opinion of women and doesn't realize it's shitty. That's like a black person staying with someway who says "You can't trust niggers" and then gets offended when called out it.

You deserve better.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:15 PM on May 31, 2011 [86 favorites]


I wonder what would happen if, the next time he made a crack like that, you just responded with, "I heard only guys who were insecure about the size of their dicks thought that way."

You know, since he's going for gender-based attacks, see how he likes it. No doubt he'll protest. Then you can point out that well, he's been doing the same and expecting you to just roll with it, what's the difference?

This is a big way I can see you changing the stakes on him. Right now it's just too easy for him to dismiss what you say as more "typical women complaining about shit," and perhaps some of the same prejudice will get him to see, "hey, wait, this isn't cool."
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:19 PM on May 31, 2011 [20 favorites]


Actually, your statement sounds pretty accurate. Despite his actions (treating female friends, relatives and colleagues with respect), he says things that make it sound like he doesn't like women very much. If I described a person or group as gossipy, catty, irrational, deceptive, and conniving, you'd rightly think that I didn't like that person or group.

I don't think "teaching moments" is the right approach. This kind of attitude can't be un-learned in one conversation. Instead, I'd choose to say something like, "That kind of comment makes me uncomfortable because it makes you sound sexist; please don't say those things," or "That kind of comment offends me because I'm a woman and that generalization doesn't describe me; please don't say those things." In other words, I'd make a clear statement of how his comment made me feel and a request that he stop. If he pushes back with, "Well, on average..." you can push back with something like, "I'm telling you that your comment upset me--does it matter more to you to make those comments or to speak to me in ways I find respectful and kind?"
posted by Meg_Murry at 7:20 PM on May 31, 2011 [47 favorites]


What would be the best way for me to act, if more situations like this arise in the future: should I try to use my boyfriend's comments as opportunities for teaching moments, or should I ignore them? Or do I just need to lighten up?

I'm sure it happens sometimes, but I've never ever seen a person like this change the way they think. I think you could probably patiently explain things/indignantly rage until you were blue in the face, and it wouldn't change much.

As to what you should do? I think the most important thing is to decide if you would feel comfortable having a child with this guy, and having the child (whether it's male or female, don't know what would be worse) being taught its father's views as it grows up.
posted by Ashley801 at 7:21 PM on May 31, 2011 [4 favorites]


Educate him about confirmation bias.

Everyone makes generalisations (see?). Not all are harmful, but if it is hurtful for you, it's reasonable to ask him not to make comments like that.
posted by guster4lovers at 7:23 PM on May 31, 2011 [3 favorites]


When you leave him (and you really should) make sure he understands WHY you are leaving him. You'll be doing all of us a favor if he even considers the possibility he may be wrong.
posted by Tarumba at 7:25 PM on May 31, 2011 [5 favorites]


To expand on my previous answer, I can only tell you what his behavior would mean to me. It means break up with me because I will never see you as my equal, even if I love you.
posted by Tarumba at 7:26 PM on May 31, 2011 [19 favorites]


It's weird to me that he brings these things up out of the blue. From the way you've described it, it seems almost like he's trying to provoke you. I don't know what to make of that, but I think in order to know how to react you need to think about what he might be trying to accomplish in these "conversations."

For me this would be a dealbreaker, not necessarily because of the sexism but because of the total ignorance and naivete it betrays.
posted by enlarged to show texture at 7:27 PM on May 31, 2011 [12 favorites]


Perhaps a different way to get him to see the error of his ways would be to question him instead of lecture him.
“Well, yeah, but you know what I meant. On average, women are more [insert bad trait here].”
Try: How do you know? or What makes you think that? or According to whom?
posted by unannihilated at 7:32 PM on May 31, 2011 [2 favorites]


I don't think you were right to apologize. He says sexist stuff, you called him out on it. The problem isn't how he treats his female friends and family (you sound like you're familiar with the whole Madonna/whore / "they're all exceptional" excuses nonsense, so I'll skip past that.)
No, the problem is how he thinks. And if he thinks this way, he needs to change that (as opposed to simply not saying it out loud). I'm an optimist by nature and believe that almost anyone can improve with some important conversations, reading materials, and activities. But the decision is up to you: is he worth the effort? Then, can the apologies and push, pull, and engage him to see the error of his ways. If that sounds like too much work, DTMFA, and go find somebody out there who doesn't think you're not as smart, social, or honest as him because you don't stand when you piss. There are a few of us.
posted by history is a weapon at 7:33 PM on May 31, 2011 [12 favorites]


I think your boyf needs to stop watching so many damn rom coms with matthew mcconaughey and kate hudson.
posted by hal_c_on at 7:35 PM on May 31, 2011 [8 favorites]


You're not overreacting. Becoming "sad and withdrawn" to someone calling you out on making a blatant, stereotypical insult about a whole group is either an emotionally manipulative way of trying to get out of wholly accepting blame or it means you truly are an idiot who doesn't understand why blatant, stereotypical insults are a bad thing. Neither really speaks positively towards him.

Ask him how he would feel if you said something like "You can't be alone with men, they'll rape you" or some bullshit like that. Ask him why that statement is not OK but his are.
posted by schroedinger at 7:37 PM on May 31, 2011 [38 favorites]


I think it's a good thing that your boyfriend says sexist things all the time because it lets you know that you have a sexist boyfriend. I mean, that's better than having a secretly sexist boyfriend, because then it'd take you much longer to figure it out. What you do with that information is up to you - I, personally, wouldn't be in a relationship with a man who thinks "women are more [insert bad trait here]" even if I thought I might be a special exception. That's even if. And chances are, I wouldn't be a special exception at all.
posted by moxiedoll at 7:37 PM on May 31, 2011 [27 favorites]


A lot depends on whether or not he's willing to work on changing his view of women. And I'm sorry, but even if it appears that "he treats his female friends, relatives, and colleagues with fairness and respect", as long as he's tossing out derogatory generalized statements, then on some level, he holds those female friends, relatives and colleagues in contempt.

If he's going to be sad and withdrawn when he's called out on those statements and had the problem explained to him, then there's nothing you can do except decide on whether or not you're willing to put up with that attitude for the sake of the relationship.
posted by jessian at 7:38 PM on May 31, 2011 [5 favorites]


I wonder what would happen if, the next time he made a crack like that, you just responded with, "I heard only guys who were insecure about the size of their dicks thought that way."

This is a good way to introduce a fairly nasty element to your relationship. Don't do this.

I don't think you're overreacting at all.
posted by grouse at 7:39 PM on May 31, 2011 [3 favorites]


I don't think you had anything to apologize for. He did. Would he make comments like this about a racial or ethnic group? would you tolerate them? If he's not a misogynist, why is he talking like one? why does he feel the need to put you down by making negative judgments about a group you're a part of? why does he blame you when his hurtful words hurt you?

If he gets "hurt and confused" when you point out that his remarks are both factually and ethically wrong, and he doesn't understand what was sexist about them (?!?!?), he's got some growing up and some learning to do.
posted by Corvid at 7:41 PM on May 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


You may find this post helpful. Warning: very, very long, lots of in-depth detail, but worth taking the time to read and think over. A similar suggestion that I've seen on the same blog (can't find the link to it): stay calm, and simply ask questions about the statement that require him to explain exactly what he means by the statement. E.g.

“Karen's good at her job, but I can't stand how chatty and gossipy she is. Still, that's pretty typical for a woman, I guess.”
You: "What do you mean that's typical for a woman?" (don't use a defensive, accusatory tone; talk as if you're talking about the weather. "It's a lovely day, isn't it?")
Him: "Well you know, women are just really chatty and gossipy."
You: "So how was she chatty and gossipy?" Then he is forced to think about what exactly he means.

(after I got in a heated argument with a friend) “Haha, why are you women always so catty?”
You: "What do mean by catty?"

“On average, men tend to be more logical and rational than women.”
You: "Can you give me a concrete example of this in your life when you saw this happening and came to this conclusion?"

The key is to not get all offended (sometimes tricky) at these statements, or to correct him, but really try to hold him accountable to what exactly he means. Try to ask questions that can help you find out where he's coming from. e.g. You: "You're saying sexist stuff." Him: "It's not sexist, just interesting differences between the sexes." You: "So how did you come to think this way anyway? Do you remember where you learned it?" It's easy to think in stereotypes, and it's sloppy thinking. Unfortunately, he's in a privileged position so he benefits from thinking in these stereotypes. Ultimately, like in the link I provided, you have to decide what your line is.
posted by foxjacket at 7:42 PM on May 31, 2011 [16 favorites]


it's not a fair characterization; he treats his female friends, relatives, and colleagues with fairness and respect

Yeah, not if you keep telling him he's saying sexist things that bother you and he keeps saying them. And I agree with enlarged to show texture; if he'd turn to you during a tv show and make a comment like that he's either TREMENDOUSLY clueless about you and/or feminism or he's doing it to see how you'll react.

I don't really believe that it's your job to teach him about feminism, but I guess you could steer him towards things like Finally, A Feminism 101 Blog or the Feminism 101 posts at Shakesville. The "Terrible Bargain" post at Shakesville is particularly good, and may be helpful to you as well.

On preview, what many people above have said, plus some links. Also, as a feminist this would be a dealbreaker for me (I know you said no DTMFA, but hey, think of it as a teachable moment). Good luck.
posted by camyram at 7:46 PM on May 31, 2011 [11 favorites]


I don't think he chose out of some badness in his nature to be sexist and say sexist things, but what he said in the example you gave was a sexist remark and I would have made exactly the same reply you did. I would not, however, have apologized and I am sorry you did.

He is confused because he has no idea what was wrong with what he said or the way he thinks. He doesn't know that, from birth, we all inhale this relentless sexism with the air we breathe and it gives men a kind of privilege they don't even know they have. He doesn't see it. He might become willing to learn something about it if you make it clear that this is important to you and you expect him to.

Google Feminism 101 and point him toward some enlightenment. Be willing to discuss anything but if he outright refuses to believe "that stuff," then you might have a game changer.
posted by Anitanola at 7:50 PM on May 31, 2011 [4 favorites]


just him pointing out interesting minor differences between the sexes

Does he find these minor differences interesting and worth highlighting because they routinely leave him with the sense that men are more logical, more ethical, more socially evolved, and perhaps, oh, better than women?

If so, his confusion over your concern that his views are sexist or misogynistic does not compute. Logically.

This may be something worth pointing out calmly, if you have the patience for it. Lazy thinking is hard to combat, but the herculean effort sometimes pays off!
posted by ausdemfenster at 7:52 PM on May 31, 2011 [2 favorites]


Yikes. The comments you describe as common from him would be breakup-worthy in my book.
posted by you're a kitty! at 7:55 PM on May 31, 2011 [2 favorites]


"...Just like all men are brutish, insensitive, untrustworthy, and only want one thing?"
posted by amtho at 7:55 PM on May 31, 2011 [6 favorites]


Here's a theory: since his remarks are at odds with his actions, is it possible that he's repeating something he heard -- maybe from a close friend, or father figure -- as a kind of reflex, without actually meaning it or thinking about the implications?

I tend to think that people's actions mean much, much more than their words. Words, especially today in our media-saturated lives, are just... noise, often. Marketing blurb. Is it possible that he doesn't really mean any of it, but is just running off at the mouth because he's repeating stuff he heard without really thinking about it? (If so, feel free to dump him for being a dim bulb; but you don't need to treat his remarks as Teaching Moments.)
posted by fingersandtoes at 8:02 PM on May 31, 2011 [5 favorites]


People, the OP says these comments come "once in a blue moon." We're all allowed to be insensitive once in a blue moon, and I, at least, understand why the OP wouldn't want to ditch an otherwise great relationship because of it, especially if he acts like a good person.

I suspect that the OP's boyfriend simply doesn't realize how these comments come across. To him, he's commenting on differences between men and women that are true in general; to him, I bet, of course they don't apply to women he knows! I think this is something the OP should talk to him about, and she should explain why she finds it offensive. And OP: it probably would help if you didn't take his comments so seriously. Giving him the benefit of the doubt, your boyfriend might just be making conversation in the way that many in our society do (rightly or wrongly!)
posted by smorange at 8:07 PM on May 31, 2011 [4 favorites]


“Sometimes, you say things that make it sound like you just don't like women very much.”

Yes, I do.

And so has every man I've spent more than a few hours with in informal conversations (too small a sample to declare universality, I'll admit).

What's worse, sometimes I find myself disliking a woman because she is a woman.

All this despite the fact I like and respect my partner (a woman) more than any other human being I have ever known.

Over the years I have learned not to be very defensive about these feelings and attitudes when they show themselves, as embarrassing as they have sometimes been, and I have learned that any attempt to justify them is merely foolish.

That's helped both of us cope, I think, and I recommend it to your partner.

Knowing she wasn't about to leave me because of my errors made it much easier to drop my defenses, and I think you ought to try telling him that only if you can do so sincerely.
posted by jamjam at 8:07 PM on May 31, 2011 [6 favorites]


Why does he feel compelled to make gross generalizations about half the human race?

I'm a feminist and against sexism of course, but in this instance what offends me most is the stupid.
posted by citron at 8:12 PM on May 31, 2011 [2 favorites]


I think most relationships are enhanced by, once in a blue moon, someone getting yelled at. He deserves it over this, and if he's confused, he needs to find resources to make himself unconfused. At the very least, he can be afraid of you enough not to say dumb things. At the very most, he'll get why you see this personal attack as a personal attack. (Hello???)

But! Oh my God, is this the first time that you've ever snapped at him??? You are a saint. So is he most probably. You two should basically have each other bronzed. I mean, I exist in a no-fighting relationship world, because I just won't have fighting, but that doesn't mean I won't bite a man's head off when he says some dumb shit. (I expect it in return; I come up with some dumb shit myself.) That you have (very mildly) done so at last over some (very) dumb shit is entirely appropriate.
posted by RJ Reynolds at 8:17 PM on May 31, 2011 [4 favorites]


You're not overreacting. I just got into a little tiff with my father, who, on the whole, has made it far greater than most men of his cultural background and generation in understanding these traits are not inherent to being a woman, being gay, being black, being whatever. They're a product of so many more things, and are insulting, unproductive, and just plain stupid. But because my father knows he's much better than many others in understanding the complexities, he still thinks it gives him the license to occasionally make such comments. If I don't draw attention to these generalizations (with tact, of course), I know no one else will. You should do the same.
posted by msk1985 at 8:20 PM on May 31, 2011


*and it's insulting, unproductive, and just plain stupid to generalize
posted by msk1985 at 8:22 PM on May 31, 2011


As a woman, I do find his comments ignorant and insulting for the same reasons you do, but consider that maybe a portion of women he's associated with in the past have been the way he described. Some women really are like that, and it always amazes me when I see it in real life. Hopefully he didn't learn everything he knows about women from watching trashy TV shows...?

I've known some men who seem drawn to women with kind of awful personality traits (and vice versa, of course), who end up thinking all women are a certain way. He may appreciate you partially because you are "not like them," which you can choose to see as a compliment on your greatness if you see fit. Or, he might not even think of this stuff until he sees a case in front of him, and then it's just a dopey thought that passes through his mind and escapes his mouth before he has a chance to reconsider.

For your own sanity, since you don't feel this is DTMFA-worthy, you're probably best off just ignoring these occasional comments. Or you can roll your eyes and give him a look. Since you've said your piece on the subject, he should know what that look means and may even work to avoid getting that look.
posted by wondermouse at 8:26 PM on May 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


"When you say that, it makes it sound like you think all women, including me, aren't as good as men [at x/in x way]. That makes me feel like you think I am inferior to you and other men, because I am a woman. I know you don't really believe that, but it's what your comments make it sound like you believe. It's important to me that you understand why comments like that are hurtful and misguided."

That's what I would want to say, in your shoes. Most likely, I'd sputter, call him an idiot, and just leave.
posted by meese at 8:26 PM on May 31, 2011 [6 favorites]


You know, people say stupid shit sometimes. If you love them, you owe them the benefit of the doubt, and will call them out on their stupid shit instead of just walking out of their lives.

If they love you, they will listen respectfully to your complaint, apologize for offending you, and give the cause of your offense some thoughtful consideration.

It sounds like he's not doing the latter: acknowledging that you have a problem, and taking it seriously.

Three choices for why this might be:

1) Maybe he doesn't know that these things ARE a big deal to you -- that you're not snapping just because (to borrow a tired cliche he might like) "it's that time of the month." You can make him aware by telling him (when hanging out, not directly following one of these remarks) how much these comments bother you, and that you think it's important, for the sake of y'all's relationship, for him to get himself a little edumacation in Feminism 101.

2) Maybe he realizes this is a big deal to you, and he also knows that he should be acknowledging and giving serious thought to the problem for the sake of your relationship, but he doesn't know how to do this. Some people just don't do well with conflict; they freeze, wait for the conflict to pass, and then settle back into routine again, happy that that dreadful conflict is no longer killing the good vibes between them and their partners. Either way, again, talking to him would help him wise up.

3) Maybe he does know these remarks bother you, and, as people suggested above, he's trying to get a rise out of you. This is the only option which would lead me to wonder if this guy should be chucked out like last week's sushi.
posted by artemisia at 8:34 PM on May 31, 2011 [6 favorites]


Though this may not be DTMFA material for you, I would call these comments - and thus probably him - misogynistic/a misogynist. Making sweeping negative generalizations about a sex, consistently...that's the definition right there. Now you decide whether that's worth the price of admission for you or not.
posted by FlyByDay at 8:34 PM on May 31, 2011 [3 favorites]


I find that punches don't land on people the same way. So the, "All women are catty" met with a "...and all men who think that are pussies", ooh-see-what-I-did-there-enlightenment! retort usually doesn't get the person to reconsider their statement and get to the lightening bolt of awareness you may be looking for.

Instead of framing it as being sexist, consider framing it in the context of the dangers of 'general statements = pretty weak tactic in debating'. These are the "typically, people who do X are Y" or "In general, people who believe Y are Z" or "It's commonly understood that people who are like Z like A" or "Everyone knows that people who think A are B" or "It's a fact that B people are C". They are (supposed) conclusions that cry out for a paragraph worth of evidence to back them up. They are, in short, statements that can always be responded with the phrase, "Well, that's debatable."

The only conversation forwarding strategy I know is to follow them down the rabbit hole. Don't confront. Question. "Really? Has that been your experience?", "What makes you say that?", "Why do you believe that?", "What are three examples you think supports your statement?", "Why do you think that is?", etc. Which usually results in you at least recognizing confirmation bias on the other person's part. (The oh, it's not women. It's the [4] women you've been hanging out with), or some sort of -ism, or something else, like an awareness that you don't actually mean the same thing, or the same negative statement by a word like 'catty' (although everyone should know what that means :)

So rather than starting with trying to change a person's belief (How can you say that?), or just stiffling it (Please don't say that, it hurts me), consider pairing the explanation of how you feel (when you say C, I feel D) with trying to understand what formed it. I mean, what are the parameters of it? How to they respond to examples contrary to their belief - do they the "exception, the exceptional X" thing?

- All black men are lazy.
- Were Nelson Mandela, Michael Jackson, or Michael Jordan lazy?
- Well, no, but they are exceptions.
-What about your friends, Fred and Robert?
- Also exceptional.
- So how many black men would have to be exceptional before it affected the rule?"

....and just keep going down the rabbit hole. Any resistance to answering is met with a phrase like, "Oh, I'm just asking because I'm just trying to understand your point better." And seriously, you are. This isn't about changing your partner's behavior, but understanding what formed it, and deciding if it's something you can live with. Him changing is bonus. But his willingness to discuss and consider his perspective, as well as be curious about your feelings is what makes him a keeper or a tosser.

Because if it's your worse case scenario - that he really does somewhere unconsciously think that women as less logical or rational, or more catty, etc., and isn't willing to be swayed on this point, you have to decide if this is someone you want to be with, or might want to raise a girl kiddo with. He might be lovely, but he might not be mature or experienced life enough to be with you, because you seem to need someone who is willing to question his assumptions, and not make blanket negative statements, particularly without realizing the significance of the belief. There are a lot of guys who can and do make this distinction. A whole lot. A whole, whole lot. But of course, not all of them. Because you know, you really can't generalize like that. :)
posted by anitanita at 8:35 PM on May 31, 2011 [35 favorites]


I commed you for wanting to engage with your boyfriend and educate him. Here is where you can use prime-time tv commercials to your advantage! A lot of commercials target a female demographic by playing on male stereotypes that they think will lure women. I'm sure you can think of several commercials where a bright and beautiful young wife saves the day from her bumbling middle-aged husband by utilizing the new and clever product. I can't link from my phone as I write this, but the one about windex outside window cleaning comes to mind. The Mcdonald dollar menu commercials also really rile me for playing to shallow sexist stereotypes.

Next time you see this kind of commercial, point it out to your boyfriend. Explain how they create steretypes that men are all borderline Neanderthals who live to swill beer and avoid commitment, who shuffle through life unable to complete basic household chores or even compose a shopping list. Explain that women are burdened with several extra millenia of that kind of nonsense creating stereotypes. And wouldn't he eventually become offended if you kept exclaiming, ”Gosh, but you're a dumb little man! Are you sure you know how to bleach a load of whites??”

It's a trite example in the face of entrenched sexism against women. But it may be a way to show him how stereotypes are created and then perpetuated by thoughtless repetition.

On the other hand I am concerned from experience about him becoming ”sad and withdrawn” after you called out his nonsense. Was he sad and witndrawn upon realizing he'd hurt your feelings or because you'd hurt his? Perhaps those issues are best left to an askme of another day....
posted by motsque at 8:35 PM on May 31, 2011 [3 favorites]


To clarify, what I'm saying is: I don't think you should be asking how to react the *next* time he does this. I think, if you have faith in him being a good guy, you'll talk to him about this long before his next asinine remark is made.
posted by artemisia at 8:36 PM on May 31, 2011


Why does he feel compelled to make gross generalizations about half the human race?

Because gross generalisations have been embedded in human culture at least since the ancient Greeks were calling non-Greeks barbarians, and almost certainly much longer?

If those opinions are just pop-cultural flotsam, then chances are that in spite of his apparent upset, he's not too deeply attached to them, and the way you get past it is to separate him from that: "That's bullshit, and you know it. You're not out with the boys now." "Where did you get that from, the Maury show?" "Those sports radio guys need to stick to baseball." etc.
posted by holgate at 8:39 PM on May 31, 2011 [5 favorites]


I am your boyfriend and you are my ex wife. First, actions speak louder than words. Judge him on what he does and how he acts, not what he says. However, that does not excuse him or give him the right to make sexist or racist or any inappropriate statements. I would try to teach him what he has said is wrong well after he says it or looked at it another way, before he does it again.

I think he can be trained to not make those sort of statements. Usually when I make them (and it is not always directed at woman, I make generalizations about men and others) I am tired and not particularly thinking about what is coming out of my mouth. I was re-trained by my wife. I learned to keep my mouth shut. I learned to parse over and over again what I was about to say. I ended up being apprehensive to even say anything for the fear that it would come out wrong or upset her or be sexist which I did not want. Although it has nothing to do with the direct cause of our divorce, it did have a long-term damper on our communication as I became reluctant to have spontaneous conversation for fear of being jumped on or argued with.

At the risk of making generalizations about men, if I were you I would decide whether you can live with the occasional inappropriate comment or not. If you cannot and feel the need to point out and correct, I think as a guy he will instinctively begin debating you and will eventually make a decision himself whether spontaneous conversation with the risk of a misstatement is worth the feeling of being corrected by his gf.

Talk to him when you can, not when you have to. Work it into a discussion between incidents, learn to live with it accepting that he usually does the right thing when acting or learn to accept the brief but frustrating argument you will have every time he makes a statement that upsets you and you point it out.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 8:41 PM on May 31, 2011 [4 favorites]


Let's just generalize here... haha. But anyway, we human beings have a tendency to generalize that I am not too ashamed to indulge in, and that's ok. In fact, I'll do so now:

He sounds like a semi-typical 'rational/libertarian' type guy. That type of guy believes that they're pretty objective about most things, that they don't judge others based on appearances/superficial stuff/gender, their ideal arrangement socially is generally meritocracy, and in practice interpersonally they're nice guys with a sarcastic/cynical bent. They're often geeks, but this personality type transcends geekdom, so I won't say that's necessarily relevant; however, this type is highly represented among geeks. And thus a lot of the geek hang-ups about women/social interaction/etc get added on.

I like that kind of guy. Unfortunately, as intelligent as they are, and as much as we agree on many things and as rational as I agree they tend to be, in fact they're actually in denial about a lot of prejudice they've internalized and are unaware they accept as axiomatic in their analysis. They genuinely do not see it, and they genuinely don't mean to discriminate, and would stop if they saw themselves in that situation. They tend to value their honor/reason (they tend to conflate the two) highly, and would be hurt if you thought they were discriminatory in some irrational fashion.

But... they are. Not that often, but about culturally entrenched biases? Yes. They are human. This is often hard for this kind of guy to accept: their reason is flawed. That thing they're most confident in about themselves? Has holes in it. Their ego tends to not like this concept.


This is an especially tricky situation in regards to women, because this type tends to have a certain standard for humanity, in terms of what's admirable and good, and this standard is often heavily weighted towards masculine ideals. Not the macho stuff, but the rationalist ancient Greek-style masculinity. Now, while it's offensive to dismiss 'feminine' behaviors such as gossiping and chatting, the fact that it's more often women that do this than men is... correct. I mean... it's not that this is untrue, necessarily, that's the problem. It's that whether he admits it or not, this percentage-- however true it is of 'most women'-- is for him something that colors *all* women. In other words, he's a little too fond of making the foundational error. "Let's classify this group thusly." In those basic terms, it's not so bad, but coupled with an innate preference for male values, this creates sexism.

The thing is, he is genuinely perceiving patterns. It's not that he's inventing them or hallucinating. The problem is, these patterns slot into his idea of what behaviors are better or worse than other behaviors, which are more or less useful, coupled with a value system regarding communication in social relationships: that is, straightforwardness is automatically more useful than tact or sympathy, brevity is automatically more useful than rambling, and data-driven discussion is automatically more useful than discourses on random social matters. He doesn't question these things: it seems obviously true.

That is the problem. It's not that he doesn't see the value of women: it's that to him it's very hard to imagine that gossip or tact or rambling (or whatever) can be useful and good traits to have. He doesn't truly believe that our differing gifts as human beings are equally helpful. Reason is better than feeling. That is the axiom that is problematic, moreso-- or more deeply so-- than sexist rhetoric.

To some degree, you're basically stuck with this for life, or as long as you're with this kind of guy. More to the point, *he's* probably stuck with it for life. However, to the degree that he changes, it won't be in terms of realizing his privilege-- which would be good too-- but realizing the subjectivity of his bias towards reason. This sort of realization is a huge one, and if he attains it, he'd have grown up hugely and become the most mature version of his type. In other words, this is a life's-work level endeavor. Appreciating emotion, appreciating compromise, appreciating social grace-- this takes a lot of time, but I'd say that's what you'd need to support him in developing. Most people don't respond well to being accused of an -ism, but *especially* people who pride themselves on objectivity. Bias is like a curse-word to that kind of guy. Helping him realize that he can't escape bias-- or his privilege as a male-- is something very delicate and long-term to negotiate. But, for what it's worth, I'd say I respect that kind of guy's genuine powers of reason enough to say it's worth it, and it's certainly possible.
posted by reenka at 8:46 PM on May 31, 2011 [48 favorites]


If it were me, and if this were my boyfriend, I would begin to spend a good deal of time assessing where else this attitude crops up, and whether or not I've been overlooking day-to-day instances of this attitude permeating the way my boyfriend treats women and myself as well. From there I'd consider past situations (if there are any) in which my boyfriend has successfully modified his behavior or grown out of an immature or toxic habit, because if he's shown a willingness to grow and evolve in the past, there's a good chance he could do the same with this situation.

My guess is, though, this isn't an area he's going to budge on. I don't think he's capable of enough self-analysis to accurately see how damaging and perverse his comments are. With that in mind, I would hesitate to keep this guy in my life because down the line, I know that I would not be able to stay in a committed relationship with anyone who cannot stand beside me on an issue as important as this one is to you (and many of the other individuals in the world, for that matter).

If it were me, I would sit down with him one day and ask him if you could revisit the situation in which you called him out. Tell him again that you've noticed that his commentary does not match his actions, and that this concerns you because as of late you cannot tell what his feelings really are about women and their value in his world. Then, express to him how sad this makes you because each time he makes a derogatory remark about a woman, he is also offending and commenting on you. Ask him to really lay down what his thoughts are about women's rights. Let him talk, and don't get heated. Just keep asking questions (like the ones many comments above have suggested). Then take everything he says to heart and sit on it for a few days. If he makes excuses, if he tries to divert the conversation by saying ANYTHING EVEN REMOTELY RELATED TO, "You're taking this way too seriously!", please do yourself a huge favor and DTMF.
posted by patronuscharms at 8:48 PM on May 31, 2011 [4 favorites]


You know that askme trope where people say, 'When someone tells you who they are, listen'?

Please listen.

Your boyfriend is telling you that he doesn't respect half the human race. When push comes to shove, you won't be the exception to that rule. It's exhausting and demoralizing trying to teach someone that having a vagina doesn't make you less than them; especially when that person is supposed to be your partner.

It sucks, and he might 'otherwise' be a good person, but I consider baseline respect for who I am as a human being to be a minimum requirement for any relationship. I don't often say this, but DTMFA.

/been there, wish I hadn't done him
posted by Space Kitty at 9:21 PM on May 31, 2011 [14 favorites]


often these comments seem to stem from a belief that women are a monolithic group with the same interests and personality traits

Is he a bit thick in other ways, too? Whenever I've encountered this it's come with more intellectual deficiencies. It kinda sounds like you've got the sort of lunkhead who has a hard time separating what he sees on the teevee from real life, the sort of person who is just, well, stupid. There's lots of good advice here for how to get him to try to think this one through a bit, but my knee-jerk is that this person is not going to be able to do the sort of thinking that might change his views, and never will be able to do that sort of thinking. And if he is not, you know, a "total moron," if he is somebody hovering around the middle of the bell curve, with an okay job and maybe even a little bit of college, he is probably even more hopeless as there is probably a bit of awareness at the periphery that he is a bit slow, and when you cross stupid with bigoted the result is usually more anger than usual, and this includes anger at being left out of the group that is able to sort out the sort of complicated thinking that would help him out of his unfortunate views about women. He's sad and withdrawn because he doesn't really understand; he doesn't understand your argument [*], he doesn't understand that women aren't like the scripted one he has just seen in a television drama, and he's a little put out that somebody has drawn attention to the humiliating fact that he doesn't understand these things.

Quite possibly I am now the one making bad generalizations. But if this rings a bell...
posted by kmennie at 9:21 PM on May 31, 2011 [2 favorites]


In addition to and/or nthing comments above -- the comments you repeated sound ... well, unsophisticated and mmmnot-so-smart. He's lived in this world for 30 plus years and this is his world view? Can you give him a verbal "shake," and say, Seriously, you can't believe that sort of crass generalization? And, see if he stops saying this nonsense? I mean, really, he must not say these things in front of everyone (i hope? ..).

And if he seriously doesn't get what you mean -- my (late) 77-year-old father could follow that this sort of generalization doesn't wash you know as a fact of reality also science and fairness -- then maybe you might want to add "critical thinking skills" and "commitment to or at least agreement with civil rights" to your list of essential qualities in partners.
posted by ClaudiaCenter at 9:23 PM on May 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


Like everyone else, men fear being hurt and deeply betrayed by the persons they care about, such as the paternity situation described above, which has been unfortunately in the news lately with the husband of the woman who bore Gov. Schwartzenegger's love child. And like everyone else, (including some women) fears are often expressed in blanket statements about different classes and genders. I think our fears are often expressed in those categories, as if we humans can be "safe" by watching out for the easily identified traits of gender or race. But that is the fear talking and if his personal behavior towards women is respectful, I would not worry too much.
posted by Ironmouth at 9:29 PM on May 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


Does he have a good relationship with his mother?

Everything right up until this...

Boyfriend turns to me and says “I'm not surprised. Women are often devious about that sort of thing.” I asked him to clarify what he meant by “devious”. His response: “Well, you know. Women are a lot more deceptive and conniving than men, particularly within the context of personal relationships. Lying about paternity, and sabotaging birth control, and stuff like that.”

...didn't seem that out of the ordinary. But that's a pretty sexist outlook to call women more "devious," even for your average male in America. He has some issues to work through, and you have to decide whether you'll tolerate him keeping up this bs. He's 34 - he ain't gonna change.
posted by sunnychef88 at 9:29 PM on May 31, 2011 [3 favorites]


You're right. The guy you are describing doesn't like women very much.

...should I try to use my boyfriend's comments as opportunities for teaching moments, or should I ignore them? Or do I just need to lighten up?

Do you think he's going to let a woman ten years younger than he is teach him anything? Or is he counting on you "ignoring" and "lightening up"?
posted by tomboko at 9:38 PM on May 31, 2011 [18 favorites]


Him: “On average, men tend to be more logical and rational than women.”

You: "Can you give me a concrete example of this in your life when you saw this happening and came to this conclusion?"


I don't know for sure if this is a little too much "me too," but I needed to quote my favourite part of this comment.
posted by RobotHero at 9:44 PM on May 31, 2011


He's a dick (pejorative).

If you don't confront him with it, he has no idea. He's still a dick.

If you confront him with it and he doesn't change, he's still a dick.

How much of him being a dick are you willing to put up with for him having a dick?

--

Then again, 10 year difference is pretty big; it's as if I was dating/(seriously) someone who was 22.

I Could Not have a serious relationship with anyone I know who is currently ~22. But it's more them being optimistic/naive/ephemeral-interests versus me being "I'm right." I'm not. Age teaches that you don't know shit - the more you know the more you KNOW that you don't know - and you need to keep an open mind and adapt.
posted by porpoise at 9:44 PM on May 31, 2011


I wholeheartedly agree with hal_c_on's point above: it sounds as if your boyfriend's negative stereotypes come from the media. I'm also reminded of this excellent AskMe comment: it seems as if he's fine with the women he knows, and only views women he doesn't really know through the filter of his stereotype.

I don't know if this is something that can be fixed. I don't think you were overreacting, and in your shoes, I'd probably be quite a bit sharper of tongue.
posted by adamrice at 9:45 PM on May 31, 2011 [2 favorites]


I would love some advice and perspective. Did I overreact? Underreact? What would be the best way for me to act, if more situations like this arise in the future: should I try to use my boyfriend's comments as opportunities for teaching moments, or should I ignore them? Or do I just need to lighten up?

In relationships, there isn't a right and wrong, there's just what works for the couple. Maybe some women would feel fine with their boyfriends saying the sexist stuff your boyfriend says. But you're not. And that's what matters. You don't need anyone else to feel uncomfortable - it only matters here that you do.

So in that spirit, you could try approaching him - maybe not in the middle of a conflict when he's most likely to feel defensive - and saying something like, "I know you really respect me, and your sister, and other women [if you feel that is true]. I think some of the statements I've heard from you about women are unintentionally hurtful. It would help me feel better and closer to you if you'd be willing to think about how it feels when I hear generalized statements about women from you." You could also try something like, "I started thinking about this stuff when I took a class in college and we read [feminist 101 type reading material]. Would you be willing to take a look at it? Maybe it would help you understand why my feelings are hurt by this stuff."

Basically what I'm getting at is,
1) acknowledge that this bothers you and that matters
2) approach him in a way that is less likely to trigger defensiveness
3) come from a place of asking him to respond to your feelings (not asking him to endorse your particular identifier as a feminist, and not trying to "teach" him something.)

If it was me, and my partner continued to be defensive and unresponsive after I'd made my best effort to talk about a conflict in this way, then I would start thinking about whether this is an indicator of overall problems in the relationship.

Good luck.
posted by serazin at 10:02 PM on May 31, 2011 [5 favorites]


Aw, well, you know how men are. Poor dears, they just don't get it.

/I kid.

My SO is incredibly un-sexist; he independently rejected some very common, very acceptable sexist tropes as illogical gibberish at a pretty young age (and not just to get some action for being a sensitive artist type, either.) But then every once in awhile, he makes a comment about women or a particular woman that just...whoa, really?

Explanations of why I'm offended aren't very effective at this point, and just lead to defensiveness. To be fair, if I got a lecture on How I Must Feel About Menfolk in response to an offhand comment, I'd possibly snort derisively as well.

So, I respond with with "hey, please don't [reference] women as [thus]?" Later, when another example comes up, I can get into a more intellectual discussion about the wider implications of such thought.
posted by desuetude at 10:13 PM on May 31, 2011 [3 favorites]


He said that he was very hurt and confused to hear that I consider his remarks sexist, and he says that he still doesn't understand what was sexist about them.

He's either lying or extraordinarily ignorant.

You didn't overreact.

Teaching moments? Teach him that he can get his head out of his backside or you'll head on down the road.
posted by ambient2 at 10:23 PM on May 31, 2011 [2 favorites]


It is hard to know what the intention behind what he said was, certainly across the Internet and as retold y someone else. Did he mean to upset someone, or was it just something said without thinking, while watching something brain-dead on tv. I speak English as a third language, and some of things I have said.. oh man..

Some quick thoughts came to mind;

If "why are women so catty" is something that makes you angry, then you are going to spend a lot of your youth being angry. This is your choice of course. (Just a statement, not an opinion)

Generally when a person is at home, with their partner, that area is considered a safe zone. You can say things without thinking, and slip up from time to time. But if saying something without thinking, becomes huge shouting matches, then, why say anything at all. Then later, he will wonder why he bothers, why is he with someone so high strung, why 'go home' when he will just have to tip-toe. He is thinking this right now.

Your cause, what you think is worth fighting for, I guess in this case, gender equality (most excellent choice btw), is most likely not HIS cause. He might want to fight for the rainforest, or curing the world of excessive beer storage. Can you just assume he will be as passionate as you about your cause? Do you care about his? Can you take what is wrong with the world out on him?

I was most surprised at the number of DTFMA replies. Seriously? This is how you (not the op) live your lives?

Stereotypes are awesome btw, can be really funny. Hell, should I be as upset as you, whenever the Muppets show the Swedish Chef? Should I be angry at Jim Henson? Or the muppets? Or my partner who laughed at it?

You are young, and passionate. This is good too, but you will need to pepper it with other things.. experience? wisdom? nurture? I don't know. I wonder what you will think of your post in 10 years? Please come back and read it then.

I don't think I say sexist things, I sure don't mean to. But I do say some racist things! (in the spirit of humour, not meanly) Ohboy, but then, I am old, so I am allowed to. (<>
I hesitate to post this, nothing good will come of it. I am not in any way attached to this discussion, I just took the role of the Devil's advocate and see if I can put up some food for thought.
posted by lundman at 10:27 PM on May 31, 2011 [3 favorites]


Hell, should I be as upset as you, whenever the Muppets show the Swedish Chef?

Yeah, if you're talking about marrying a Muppet.
posted by liketitanic at 10:35 PM on May 31, 2011 [4 favorites]


You may want to point out # 10 in this article.
posted by gudrun at 10:43 PM on May 31, 2011 [2 favorites]


Men and women are different.

The problem is that he makes the differences between men and women pejorative, femininely speaking.

-----
I LOVE that he brought this topic up because it made me think outside the box!

"... Lying about paternity, and sabotaging birth control, and stuff like that.”

You know, a lot of the stereotypes he engages in are like this one - true on some level. In this case, because of biology, women are usually the only ones in any position to lie about these things. Who knows what the statics might be if it biology worked differently.
------

The problem may be that he just isn't a deep thinker, at least on these subjects.

It's probably OK to challenge him on these lazy beliefs if he's just never had to think about them objectively before.

If he's thought about them and decided they are true, then that's DTMFA territory. If you wanted to stay with him long-term, then these critically held beliefs would signify a fatally fundamental difference between you.
posted by jbenben at 10:44 PM on May 31, 2011 [3 favorites]


Are these remarks sexist? Yeah. But it's pretty culturally acceptable to gender stereotype. My parents and siblings do this all the time, a bunch of my friends, and pretty much every drunk asshole I've ever had to sit next to at a bar. It's in movies, all over TV, and is the basis for best selling romance novels.

You have to decide whether or not this is a deal breaker. I personally think it rates pretty low on the shit that is ruining civilization scale and most cases I'd rather nod, smile, and save my breath for something that matters. But it does annoy the ever loving piss out of me and isn't something I ever want to have to put up with from a partner. I'd dump him and wonder why he made it this far.

Maybe everything is going super great in this relationship and you can accept that people like to generalize in order to explain behavior they don't immediately understand so that the world makes sense in their mind. If that's the case you're a better person than I am. You should tell him the next time he says something stupid that you don't care if he really believes that shit he's saying but the next time you hear it coming out of his mouth his ass is on the curb.
posted by grizzly at 10:56 PM on May 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


Maybe you can break it up between Intent vs. Impact.

His intent might have been completely harmless and was not targeted at all in hurting your feelings.

However the impact of his comment was definitely hurtful for you.

That's why he became sad and withdrawn because he was unaware of the impact that he created that was contrary to his intentions.

As much as his intentions might be good (and sometimes bad for some!) the impact was negative on your part. Your feelings are your feelings and you don't need other mefites to determine whether you under- or over-reacted.

Honestly, from what you described, he is unaware of his male privileges and is somewhat unwilling to admit them. Just as there are many well educated men who reached the stage of recognizing their own privileges, there are also many well intentioned men who may be respectful and nice but internalized much of misogynistic perspectives. Owning up to your own privilege can be a very difficult and uncomfortable process for many and thus it is easier to turn your head the other way. This kind of internalization can take several years and sometimes even lifetime to unlearn and will be up to you in determining whether you would like to invest the time and patience for him to become aware and liberated.

Also it might be easier to call out on particular behaviors than challenging him as a person. It'll be much harder for him to admit that he might be sexist versus his behavior being sexist.

My heart is with you on this dilemma as I'm also struggling with similar issues in a relationship as well. Some previous strategies mentioned on earlier posts that I'd like to highlight again are -

- Anitanita's rabbit hole method of finding holes in his "logic"
- Choosing when it is a teaching moment or not
- Introduce him to readings about privilege and sexism
- Take him with you to activities/lectures/workshop series related to this topic


TL;DR - Call out on his impact of his behavior while acknowledging his intentions.
posted by Kimchee.Noodles. at 11:19 PM on May 31, 2011 [6 favorites]


I don't think you overreacted because, what the hell?

His comments are sexist. It becomes a dealbreaker if he's not willing to acknowledge that and how he could've offended you. Chances are no one's really called him out on it before though.

I don't think you need to do teaching moments, but rather just tell him when what he's said has offended you and why - that's often the hardest but most useful thing to do.
posted by mleigh at 11:42 PM on May 31, 2011


Generally when a person is at home, with their partner, that area is considered a safe zone. You can say things without thinking, and slip up from time to time.

The problem here is not that the boyfriend "slipped up" and said this stuff without thinking—it's that he, at 34, still has this kind of crap in his head at all. Blatantly sexist comments like these would be a dealbreaker for me in even a friendship or business context, let alone a romantic relationship, and I'm a guy in my mid-40s.
posted by Lazlo at 11:58 PM on May 31, 2011 [9 favorites]


You totally didn't overreact - your boyfriend has some real misogyny going on. I know that you say he's nice to women in real life, but imagine if he was saying these things about another group, like:

"Yeah, but Jews are generally really devious"

Even if he had a thousand Jewish friends, that would still be a totally awful thing to say, right? In fact, it would be worse that he's engaging with members of this group on some kind of false basis, while at his core willing to believe awful things about them.

The thing that worries me is his "sad" reaction to your incredibly light chastisement, and continued insistance that what he said wasn't sexist. If he's unwilling to acknowledge or learn how his pre-conceived notions might be hurtful, I'd consider that a very red flag.
posted by ukdanae at 12:17 AM on June 1, 2011 [8 favorites]


I guess you probably don't like 90% of stand-up comedy.

I dunno. My boyfriend (and friends and family) and I always make jabs and generalizations about men and women.
Neither of us take it seriously.

But, I know not everyone is the same.

If it were me, and it was something that actually upset me, I'd probably take a stab back at him and then it would probably end up in laughter.
posted by KogeLiz at 12:25 AM on June 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'd eventually find it tedious to spend my life with someone who isn't interested in having their world view challenged. The only thing I've got is "For what logical reason do you think I might find that statement offensive?" and things like "Define often." Apply as needed.
posted by DarlingBri at 12:30 AM on June 1, 2011


I'd be pissed off hearing that crap. And to the 'oh, it's a casual joke in the safe environment of his home' idea - the home is also a 'safe' place for oneself too, no?

I'd do a bit eye-rolling at first and 'um, do you know how that sounds, man?' and/or 'yep, every last one of those devious, cunning women and their desire to reap in the vast rewards of trapping a man in a shotgun marriage'. Or similar. But I can't say I'd stay with humour for too long.

I guess I'd wonder at my man's overall intelligence, especially with his sulking after being challenged. If I explained my reserve and annoyance at his cavalier sexist remarks and he didn't reflect on it a bit, I guess the DTMF might start getting traction as an idea.
posted by honey-barbara at 1:15 AM on June 1, 2011 [4 favorites]


I would find this to be a deal-breaker...but I would've called him out a lot more harshly on it long before now.

I've had conversations with guy friends about feminism that basically boiled down to "But you don't want to make us uncomfortable by calling us out all the time, right? Then we wouldn't want to make jokes at all!"

This is such an incredibly disingenuous position to take, because it implies that the comfort of those people being sexist, even if they claim they're being ironic, is more important than the right of their supposed friend not to be denigrated. I call bullshit on that. If my partner can't be respectful to me, then I'm not going to care very much about his comfort: I would be out the door. My home is my safe zone, too. I put up with sexist stuff enough at work. I'd rather come home to a cat than to more of the same.

I wonder at the few people telling the OP to lighten up. Would you say the same thing if the guy had been making racist remarks? I'm Asian; should I put up with my guy making cracks about Asians being stingy and rude and socially inept?

I know that you say these comments only happy once in a blue moon, OP, but I agree that you need to find out WHY he's making these comments. Does he genuinely believe that women, on the whole, are more [insert negative quality here]? Does he understand where he formed these preconceptions? I'd definitely have a conversation about this during some off-time (on the weekend) when you can address this when you're not stressed or pressed for time.

Good luck.

(I also find the generalization based on the age difference that's going on in this thread to be kinda shitty. We don't know the circumstances of their relationship, or the context for their interactions otherwise. Comments like "what kind of 34 year old dates a 24 year old" are uncalled for. They're needlessly judgmental and don't contribute anything beyond "OMG AGE GAP HOW DARE YOU".)
posted by Phire at 1:34 AM on June 1, 2011 [27 favorites]


Call him out on it, and continue to do so. It's important to you, so it should be important to him. However, I don't see this as DTMFA territory and I think there's a lot of overreaction to the situation in this thread.

He's going to come to any realisations slowly, and you need to consider this a long term project.

I'd also ask if he says anything like this in front of anyone other than you / the other people he loves. Because if not, there's a chance that he's just opening his mouth before putting his brain into motion. Maybe he trusts that you'll pull him up on what's out of order and then talk to him about it without prejudice.

Also - women in general are chattier (and cattier) than men. I'm not going to guess why that is, but as a sexist comment made by someone who is maybe struggling to incorporate feminism into his world view, this is not reason to hate someone.
posted by seanyboy at 2:12 AM on June 1, 2011


I would not want to be in a major disagreement with someone who thinks I'm more likely than him to be irrational or manipulative. Nor would I want to have a child with someone who thinks that women naturally love changing diapers.

When shit gets really stressful do you want to be banging your head against this particular irrationally bigoted self -serving wall?

He's already demonstrated a willingness to stereotype your behavior (you're catty, not having a reasonable disagreement with a friend, remember? )

What happens when you disagree about his behavior or what house to buy? You're irrational, remember?

He probably thinks you're being a typical irrational /hormonal woman over this, too.
posted by the young rope-rider at 2:13 AM on June 1, 2011 [9 favorites]


> I wonder what would happen if, the next time he made a crack like that, you just responded with, "I heard only guys who were insecure about the size of their dicks thought that way."

This is a good way to introduce a fairly nasty element to your relationship. Don't do this.


The boyfriend hasn't ALREADY introduced a nasty element into the relationship?

The OP wouldn't mean it if she said it. This may also be a good way to assess how seriously he takes what he's saying -- if he is really bothered, then that may be a clue that he deep down actually means what he says too. If he laughs at that, then maybe it's a sign he thinks he's just making jokes himself.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 2:29 AM on June 1, 2011 [2 favorites]


I think this is a bad sign. People who say stuff like this have always turned out to have an adversarial view of relationships in which one person must be the winner and the other must be the loser.

Having said that, maybe he just has a few bad habits. I would suggest saying "what?" every time he comes out with something like this, but nothing more, because this isn't rational discourse he's engaging in. You'll soon be able to figure out if it's possible to relate to him on terms acceptable to you.
posted by tel3path at 3:34 AM on June 1, 2011 [3 favorites]


I think you're doing just fine.

Usually, I try to gently point out that these stereotypes are unhelpful and not terribly accurate.

Yep. I think this is the best way to handle it.

You snapped at him one time? (Not ideal, but understandable.) Neither of you let it escalate. No big deal.

It doesn't sound like the guy has any deep seated problems with women, but he does entertain some common stereotypes about women. He may come to understand why these things bug you, and his thinking may change over time. I think you're handling this just fine.
posted by nangar at 4:06 AM on June 1, 2011 [2 favorites]


karen is good at her job. She's just so gossipy and catty.

You: why are you gossiping about Karen? That's so catty!

You have some options. I think overall that he's immature and I'm embarrassed for him.

You can simply walk away when he says something stupid. You can bring it up when it hasn't happened for awhile, not in the heat of it and tell him you'd like him to reconsider making those kinds of generalizations when he's around you, as a favor to you. You can, repeatedly and ion the moment point out ways in which men or women are behaving against "type"--like, when men gossip or women drive well. You can shame him ---"you sound ignorant when you say things like that"

When he pouts for being chastised, you can tell him in a good natured way that its not sexy and a quick apology to you and the two of you can get back to normal (and then do forgive and forget so you reward him for the apology)

Your best bet is to say "I don't know how to respond to that" and walk away. He should then bring it up and apologize or have a non-pouty conversation about it.

My male friends would freeze out or otherwise gently correct a guy like this, so maybe he hasn't consciously chosen good friends yet.
posted by vitabellosi at 4:31 AM on June 1, 2011 [3 favorites]


This seems like a need for consciousness raising. He's clueless, but not apparently unreachable. You two are communicating, and he has some empathy. You are direct, and measured in your responses, and that's adult and admirable.

Developing sensitivity to this kind of thing takes some doing. He didn't get it growing up, and he's at an age where it should start to gel.

My wife and I kid constantly about gender stereotypes, both ways, but it's supposed to be a means of syncing up to the silliness of it all. I often describe some personal shortcoming as a 'boy thing', like being only interested in sex, abrasive, having no color or fashion sense, being insensitive. (None of these are particularly true.) She often describes what she is doing as 'girl things', as in quilting, gardening, socializing, being sensitive, kind, empathic, diplomatic. (None of these are particularly true.)

There are class differences between males and females, IMO*. Supportable, observable, explainable, real. Any difference which CAN be identified is only a problem when it becomes the basis for discriminatory action or abuse. Individual characteristics swamp the class differences. Generally, I think it's polite, if nothing else, to ignore the class differences unless they are relevant and in focus (i.e., if you ask the boy if he hates it when girls do ______ or how it feels not to be able to give birth, etc.) One man's opinion.

Try to get him in the mindset of exploring versus condemning. If there ARE differences you can agree exist, it's no reason for condemnation. That's where I think the problems lie.

I think he and you sound promising. Boy just needs a little sandpaper taken to the rough spots.


* Physiological, socialization, structural, endocrine, fat distribution, metabolic, neurological, gender-specific dress, menopause, childbearing, etc.
posted by FauxScot at 5:53 AM on June 1, 2011 [6 favorites]


[A few comments removed. This is not the place to have a side argument about what you think feminism is.]
posted by cortex (staff) at 7:00 AM on June 1, 2011


When I was 18 I went out with a guy who was three years older and used to come out with comments like these - 'women are all the same', slagging off female singers or characters because they exhibited some kind of typical feminine behaviour. It made me uneasy. Then, during arguments, he would call me a 'silly slag [UK for slut in this context]' and a 'pathetic bint' and other such delightful phrases. This made me more than uneasy. At one point, I asked him why he would use this (and, about a gay friend 'a queeny fit') when he wouldn't call his black friend a 'nigger' during an argument. 'Because it's different.' Why? 'It just fucking is.'

I'm not saying this will happen to you, but this was a real early sign that he didn't respect women much at all, because the relationship very much deteriorated as time went on. Older me wonders why I didn't dump him for thinking it was remotely OK to call their girlfriend, or any woman, a silly slag; younger me reluctantly accepted it, and as time went on reluctantly accepted more and more. People say stupid things in the heat of the moment but to be called out on it and stubbonly defend it? No. He was an educated guy, he was well-read, he was left-wing in many ways and politically active, he had been around some great women, but for personal or other reasons he cast them as Other and so never really respected me either.

Two lessons that have taken me a long time to learn: never date anyone who slags off women as a whole, never date anyone who slags off their exes. They are both, in my experience, warning flags.
posted by mippy at 7:18 AM on June 1, 2011 [7 favorites]


"You are young, and passionate. This is good too, but you will need to pepper it with other things.. experience? wisdom? nurture? I don't know. I wonder what you will think of your post in 10 years? Please come back and read it then."

I could have posted this ten years ago, and would at least have liked to hear someone tell me to think very hard, if not DTMFA. If it bothers her, it's not non-trivial.
posted by mippy at 7:20 AM on June 1, 2011 [2 favorites]


What sort of 34 year old dates a 24 year old?

In a thread about dispelling unfair stereotypes? Really? I hope you were trying to be ironic.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 7:25 AM on June 1, 2011 [6 favorites]


For me his age is significant because he should know better (maybe he's aware of this and hence the sulkiness post-encounter). The difference is significant because the OP felt pressure to apologize in a situation where she had the moral high ground. This kind of pressure can result from an age difference, amongst other things. At least, that was true of my experience dating older men.

As to the question -- look, the guy is setting my run-away-o-meter too, but we're not in DTMF-ville, so why not:

Get him to read a select bunch of good ol' feminists? Others are better placed to recommend, but I remember enjoying Mary Shelley Walstonecraft's A Vindication of the Rights of Women.

tl;dr You were not overreacting, get him to read some.
posted by angrycat at 7:41 AM on June 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


The comments about "what sort of 34 year-old man dates a 24 year-old woman" are not anymore helpful nor less prejudiced than the comments your boyfriend occasionally makes about women.

Lightening up and not taking him seriously isn't a productive way to think about it as it implies you're at fault for overreacting, which is an insult to you. But I do think it would help the situation to manage how angry you get in response and try to stay calm as long as you truly feel he's not intending to offend you. I also like the advice of not immediately confronting him as soon as he says these things - wait a little while and then approach him like, "Hey, I want to ask you about something you said before," and then hopefully you can have a calm and rational discussion about what makes him say these things. Try to avoid snapping at him; don't let it build up to that point.

Some guys, even 34 year-old ones, are capable of changing their actions and attitudes when they see they hurt someone they care about. If he refuses to do that or completely doesn't understand where you're coming from, that's a bigger problem.
posted by wondermouse at 7:41 AM on June 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm a pretty strident feminist, and even I fall into the trap of stereotyped, generalized thinking once in awhile. Rather than seeing this as a failure of my feminism, I try to recognize, first, where these stereotypes might arise from. Often they have some seed of truth in them, but that truth isn't that, OMG, women gossip and are therefore shitty people, but rather, say, that women are forced by our society into competing with other women over trifling things (relationships, appearances), because our society suggests that only very few women can succeed for very shallow reasons. After all, there are differences between men and women--but many of these arise out of out-of-whack societal expectations of behavior, not any fundamental biological truth.

So when these things come up, I think it would be more productive not to get defensive but to engage your boyfriend in a dialogue. When he says that women are catty, ask him what behavior he's referring to. Then ask him why he thinks it might be that women would act that way in the workplace. This will encourage him to empathize and to see how all of society impacts individual behavior, rather than just letting him stereotype and move on like it's nothing.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 7:56 AM on June 1, 2011 [7 favorites]


but he became sad and withdrawn. He said that he was very hurt and confused to hear that I consider his remarks sexist, and he says that he still doesn't understand what was sexist about them. In his view, the comments he makes that I find offensive are just him pointing out interesting minor differences between the sexes.

And on reread, I think it's good you called him on it. His becoming withdrawn sounds like it was in recognition that he said something fucked up. I think patient conversation here is your friend.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 7:58 AM on June 1, 2011


You know, there are great sexy guys who don't say these things. Just sayin'.
posted by whimsicalnymph at 8:09 AM on June 1, 2011 [3 favorites]


I'm wondering why he says these things. Does he think it makes him sound smart? Worldly? Seriously, I'd first ask him that. From there, I like mostque's approach. Ask for supporting evidence - no, not from Law & Order, Jerry Springer or general public media. Real, actual evidence. If he provides a few concrete real life examples, observe the stats between those examples and 'all women'. It's lazy, small-minded thinking, and it doesn't serve anyone well.

Also, the him being sad and withdrawn thing? Classic manipulative behavior. It's designed to put you in the defensive position, for you to be apologetic for hurting him. It completely changes the tone of the conversation. Please don't engage in that dynamic, it's bullshit. Feel free to point that out as well.
posted by 8dot3 at 9:05 AM on June 1, 2011 [3 favorites]


"I'm wondering why he says these things."

Perhaps he says them in order to insult you and have you try to understand him instead of taking offence.

Perhaps he has a gap in his intelligence and genuinely believes what he says and is unaware of how offensive it is despite your telling him.

I'm not sure that figuring out why is the best thing here. I can only speak from personal experience, but politely explaining why this kind of thinking is erroneous only ever provided entertainment for my adversaries (and supposed friends). Like feeding the troll. In retrospect I wish I had used a "What?" or an "I think you know better than that" or a "Cut it out" instead of getting into any discussions. Who knows whether doing so would have made a difference.
posted by tel3path at 9:37 AM on June 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


reenka's comment is very insightful.

To those contemplating the motivation of OP's boyfriend: Probably there wasn't any. I find Hanlon's razor very useful in that regard: Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.

I'm wondering why he says these things. Does he think it makes him sound smart? Worldly? Seriously, I'd first ask him that.

I'm pretty sure he doesn't think about the desired effect before spurting out bullshit. It was absolutely right of you to call him out on the bullshit. However, a question like "Do you think you sound smart or worldly by saying that?" is bound to sound aggressive and contemptuous.
posted by Triton at 10:19 AM on June 1, 2011 [2 favorites]


Not defending the guy, not saying what he says isn't off-base (it is), but taking into consideration we get one side here, and you even mention that it's once in a blue moon that this occurs, I'd lighten up just a little.

If everything else in the relationship is good, and some comments he makes on rare occasions anger you, and you use that as a basis for breaking up, you're going to be very lonely for a very long time.

Expecting perfection in another human is a massive fail.
posted by po822000 at 10:23 AM on June 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


"Expecting perfection in another human is a massive fail."


She isn't expecting perfection, she just wants a mate who doesn't view her as less of a person or naturally devious because of her gender. She wants a partner who doesn't automatically consider her to be more "deceptive and conniving" than he is without any justification for that belief.


"You know, a lot of the stereotypes he engages in are like this one - true on some level. In this case, because of biology, women are usually the only ones in any position to lie about these things. Who knows what the statics might be if it biology worked differently."


Men sabotage birth control. Men cheat on their significant others (I was once told by some guys that I could 'expect' my husband to run around on me). Men hide/deny fathering children. Men knock women up and then abandon them. I know a guy who refuses to work because he refuses to pay child support for his own son. Both sexes can equally be shitty in relationships and there is absolutely no justification for the belief that either gender is inherently more untrustworthy in a relationship. None.
posted by avagoyle at 12:57 PM on June 1, 2011 [11 favorites]


For your own sanity, since you don't feel this is DTMFA-worthy, you're probably best off just ignoring these occasional comments. Or you can roll your eyes and give him a look. Since you've said your piece on the subject, he should know what that look means and may even work to avoid getting that look.

No, don't do this. It's not helpful, because it doesn't do anything to replace the negative stereotypes in his mind and could even backfire on the OP. He'll think she irritable or nagging instead of understanding what her real point is.

I wonder what would happen if, the next time he made a crack like that, you just responded with, "I heard only guys who were insecure about the size of their dicks thought that way."

Not a good way to start a dialogue, really. Hurtful and not productive, again.

I don't think you over-reacted when you accused of him doing exactly what he WAS doing, and you shouldn't have backed off and apologized--you know you were right in what you said.

But, to give him the benefit of the doubt, this man may just be largely a product of his own upbringing. I'd be curious to know if his stereotyping goes the other way, and he says things like, "Women are so much more nurturing than men!" or if he feels that men should be providers, etc. Because, since his actions show he actually has no problem treating the women he meets with respect, he could just be parroting what his parents said to him as he was growing up, and not relating it to the real flesh-and-blood people he knows. Which would explain why he shrugs off your responses, because of course he doesn't mean you and your friends--but to him, you are all the exception, not the rule.

Those attitudes are something he can choose to put behind him, if he wants to. But does he want to? Honestly, he doesn't sound very introspective, so he may see no reason to change. And his pouting is a really bad sign in a 34 year-old man who should have better communication and relationship skills by now. Also, we don't know his history with women, and presumably you do, so you'll know whether some of his generalizations come out of his own bad experiences (like a girlfriend that cheated on him, or actually did lie about birth control).

Usually, I try to gently point out that these stereotypes are unhelpful and not terribly accurate.

Yeah, that's more my style, too. But don't back down when you know you are right. Of course, you have to pick your battles, too. Do you just want to be right, or do you want a relationship?

So, OP, you have to decide how important this is to you. And if it is, tell him how much it hurts and angers you when he makes these generalizations. The way he reacts will tell you just how important your feelings are to him. Because if he just pouts and sulks again, I doubt he'll ever be willing to change.
posted by misha at 2:05 PM on June 1, 2011 [2 favorites]


[This is a followup from the asker.]
Thank you all for the thoughtful answers, it has been interesting and thought-provoking to read the range of opinions. A few of the “devil's advocate” type answers really struck a nerve, which made me realize that I'm more emotionally invested in this issue than I previously thought.

reenka's analysis was spot-on – my boyfriend is the highly intelligent, geeky sort, and he'll readily admit that he values traits like efficiency and decisiveness above “feminine” traits like tact and thoughtfulness. As for why he holds some of the views he does, romantic comedies are certainly not to blame, as only girls watch those (heh). He's from a family that views sexist humor as totally acceptable, which probably has something to do with it: a few weeks ago we went out to dinner with his Dad, who treated everyone at the dinner table to some really hateful domestic violence jokes. So I think casual sexist comments seem pretty normal to him, and they seem totally harmless, compared to the kind of misogynist humor that's de rigueur in his family of origin.

I really like the approach Meg_Murry outlined in her comment, I think I'll take that tack in the future: variations on “That kind of comment makes me really uncomfortable because [brief explanation], please don't say those things around me.”
posted by cortex (staff) at 2:34 PM on June 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


Maybe have some facts to impart next time he drops a generalization about women on you. For instance, according to studies only 5% of gossiping is actually malicious (catty), so even if women did gossip more than men _which they don't_ it would mostly be innocuous chit chat. Same studies find that men gossip twice as much as women do.

Anyway, these sexist remarks of his would be pretty destructive to say in front of children over time, so make sure you get this sorted out in the event you end up having his child. You don't want him destroying his daughter's self esteem or raising a sexist son. Or assuming you've lied and that the baby is some other man's, oy.
posted by zarah at 2:38 PM on June 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


i don't know, i'd dump him. you probably won't- i know when i was with a guy who said shit like that, i didn't want to dump him either. i mean, hey, it was just this occasional thing, and most of the rest of the time he was pretty ok. instead i tried to "educate" him and talk him around so he'd realize why he was wrong. but you know what? you really can't. feelings like this are not based in logic and they run deep. as in, deeper than you can probably change. you can tell him not to say these things around you, but in the end that doesn't matter either if he really still feels that way deep down. (which, why would he say these things if he didn't really think that way?) i think it's likely that this sort of attitude will start trickling in when you have disagreements. whatever my ex and i would fight about, it would always end with me being blamed for being either irrational (due to being female) or hormonal or PMSing or overly emotional or whatever else he could pull out of his ass. and it's an argument you can't win- you're the irrational one, why should he listen to you?

when i saw that he's 34 and you're 24, the thought that immediately popped into my head was that it's probably because women his own age think he's an asshole and know better than to date him. my guess is that you'll probably keep trying to get him to come around, he never will, and after you finally break up you'll be so irritated that the next time you meet a guy like him you'll run screaming in the other direction. i know that's going to be how i react next time i meet a guy like that.
posted by GastrocNemesis at 3:13 PM on June 1, 2011 [13 favorites]


He can wax egalitarian all he wants, but his actions have proven what he really believes. It's bad enough he keeps offending you, but now YOU are the one having to comfort him when he fucked up and made you upset. These things have a way of wearing down on you. When the abstract ideas and ideals fade away, you may not be able to handle his real life dismissive attitude... as well as the deep-seated misogyny he was raised with.
posted by elif at 4:47 PM on June 1, 2011 [2 favorites]


Yea, I'm another person who has dated this dude, and all I can say is you are not an exception. You may think you are, but some day you'll probably find out you aren't — when he's angry, when things are really tough. It's not worth it.
posted by dame at 4:51 PM on June 1, 2011 [5 favorites]


He's a product of his environment. I wouldn't pass immediate judgment on him based on the things that fall out of his mouth. Actions speak louder than words. It's how he treats you (and other women) that matters.

That being said, let him know that *you* take those statements personally. Reframe the debate. This is less about what he says about "women" and more what he's saying about you, and his mother and his sister. When he says "Women are more devious than men" it certainly could feel like he's more or less saying "I think *you* are devious," because, well, you're a woman. He's insulting *you* when he says things like this, and part of being in a healthy relationship is *not* insulting the other party. Make him understand this, and if he's not willing to stop insulting you to your face, then it's time to seriously reassess how much of that kind of thing you're willing to take.
posted by cnc at 5:02 PM on June 1, 2011 [2 favorites]


You know, I just noticed in your post that you said you apologized, for being snappy, and potentially hurting his feelings. Then, he acknowledged the validity of your point, and then stated that he still didn't know why his comments were sexist.

I'm just wondering if he apologized, not for his statements being sexist, but for hurting your feelings.

Because regardless of if he grasps your understanding of sexist statements, it would be unfortunate if he failed to recognize that you were hurt (regardless of whether he intended it), and failed to be curious about why that was. You rely on your partner like your second pair of eyes, you trust them when they say they see something that you can't. You trust them, even if you can't understand what they are saying. I'm wondering if your partner trusts you when you say his comments are sexist, and hurtful. Or does he require you to make the case for it each time.

If you sense the lingering question in his mind is, "Why are YOU so upset?", rather than, "Why am I- MYSELF - tone deaf to comments that hurt people I love?", then you might have a bit of a pickle on your hands. Because his answer might be something that avoids personal responsibility, like, "You're upset because women are just so darn emotional."

Ultimately, I don't know if it's the words that are so much the problem, than the mindset behind them. His thoughtless words are based on his actual thoughts. You can ask him not to say these mean spirited things, but I don't know how you stop the perceptions and actions that are influenced by the thoughts he has. Perhaps you could consider if those statements manifest in any other behaviors or actions, perhaps when you discuss important topics, etc. Perhaps not, but I'm just wondering.

I realize my thoughts on this are based on the fact that I would find it difficult to be in a relationship with someone, a relationship where he and I were going along swimmingly in a close, two-some clip of togetherness, who even occasionally flipped us up with a statement like, "Well, that's cause Black people are lazy". That'd be like not knowing when I'm going to get kneecapped by my own ice skating partner or something. I'd need him to at least *want* to fix that. Because I'm worth it.

Best of luck to you OP.
posted by anitanita at 5:06 PM on June 1, 2011 [9 favorites]


Is your boyfriend at least ashamed of his dad's "domestic violence humor"? That sounds pretty embarrassing. I wonder if there's a way you can teach your boyfriend that the things he says are related to the things his dad says, even if he thinks they're relatively harmless.

As for the eye rolling tactic I mentioned above, that only works if your boyfriend has gotten the point and if he actually loves and respects you.
posted by wondermouse at 5:49 PM on June 1, 2011


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