Should I stop patronizing a business over political differences?
November 15, 2016 5:16 PM   Subscribe

I've discovered that a business owner whose services I use and love has some political leanings that are diametrically opposed to mine. I'm trying to convince myself to stay tolerant and open-minded, but it's really hard.

About six months ago I started dancing at a local studio. The owner is a lovely woman who vociferously advocates for women's self-esteem, empowerment, and body acceptance. I've loved it.

She friended me on Facebook a few months ago. I started seeing posts that clearly showed strong religious and conservative leanings, but I don't really care. As the election drew nearer, her posts became increasingly anti-Clinton. Whatever, this cycle was a shit show. But now...I'm seeing that she voted for Trump, and I feel completely betrayed. I just cannot grasp how someone who is so enthusiastic about promoting women to feel strong and beautiful could possibly support him. That's not to say I think she should have voted for Hillary - she posted numerous stories about Hillary enabling Bill Clinton's rapey past, but again, election season shit show. My Facebook feed is now revealing a very - apparently religious - enthusiastic support for the entire Republican establishment, support of anti-LGBTQ measures, the acquittal of the Malheur occupiers and just basically the opposite of everything that I support, politically and personally. I'm queer myself and my job relies directly on federal policies that are quite likely to change drastically within a year, and could vaporize my job, so maybe I'm taking this too personally?

I want to be tolerant. I don't want to lecture her or tell her I disagree with basically everything she thinks. I love to dance and it's hard to find elsewhere. I'd think she was shitty if she dropped me as a student because of how I voted, and I don't want to be shitty. But I also don't want to pay to look at her for three hours a week. When is it OK to micro-boycott? Or, how can I learn to be more tolerant?
posted by mibo to Human Relations (54 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
 
Boycotting is perfectly honorable if you don't want to support someone who may be supporting policies with donations that come from money they make off you. It's also great to try to have civilized conversations with people on the other side for mutual understanding and possibly to change someone's view by example. I would think it over more. What are you more comfortable with?
posted by Beethoven's Sith at 5:24 PM on November 15, 2016 [6 favorites]


I really don't think you're taking this too personally. I would, without question, not continue to patronize someone who I knew had voted for Trump, at least when we're talking about something that you're doing purely for pleasure and enjoyment, like a dance class. But I am speaking as a non-white woman with Muslim friends and family. It would feel like a betrayal of them and honestly, I would have serious suspicions about how a Trump voter truly felt about me. It would make it impossible for me to truly enjoy what is meant to be a pleasurable leisure activity. If you are white, maybe you don't have these concerns. But I don't think you're being oversensitive at all.
posted by armadillo1224 at 5:28 PM on November 15, 2016 [34 favorites]


But I also don't want to pay to look at her for three hours a week.

There's your answer. My mom was just here visiting this weekend and she talked about how many strong women I have to look up to in my family and how well she thinks I'm raising my daughter and I know how many sexist struggles she's been through and yet, she voted for Trump. Party politics trump family values, apparently. This has been a long time in coming and no surprise to me but it's especially painful right now because there could literally be no person more abhorrent than our president-elect.

Maybe, if it would make you feel better, you could drop her a note saying that you feel you have been really inspired by her and her support of women but that you are struggling with her political decisions which she has made known on her Facebook page. Maybe she'll surprise you. I don't know.
posted by amanda at 5:28 PM on November 15, 2016 [21 favorites]


I personally think that this notion that progressives are supposed to tolerate intolerance (lest we be accused of being as intolerant as the intolerant we can't tolerate) is stealth right-wing bs designed to make us not have the courage of our convictions. Trump's election is about far more than difference of opinion, and trying to pretend it isn't contributes to the normalization of what is shaping up to be a pro-fascist autocracy. Standing for what we believe isn't always comfortable. We're going to have to get used to it.
posted by the return of the thin white sock at 5:32 PM on November 15, 2016 [166 favorites]


Any choice you make here is ok. Personally I'm keeping myself safe where I have to, and trying to find common ground to have discussions and possibly change minds where that's possible for me. Personally, if I stayed, I'd feel some personal responsibility to be actually having political conversation - to try to get her to see your viewpoint. I don't think I'd be comfortable both staying and being silent.

Also if you stay, you can always leave later if you change your mind. If you go, and decide to keep quiet, same thing; although honestly if you go it may be more effective to speak up as to why. Something along the lines of "I've always really appreciated your support for women and our self image. But I can no longer patronize your business because you don't extend this support to all women."
posted by nat at 5:33 PM on November 15, 2016 [5 favorites]


If you don't want to pay to see her face, don't pay to see her face. If it won't bring you joy, don't keep doing it in a misguided attempt to be tolerant.

Be tolerant by not badmouthing her to potential customers. Maybe stick to warning them not to friend her on Facebook if they lean liberal. Don't refuse service if she is ever in a position to be one of YOUR customers.

It's not like not paying for a lawn service. I would expect that dance is a lot more interactive and personal. It is OK to stop paying her if you are not pleased with what you are paying for. This is not intolerant.
posted by pearshaped at 5:33 PM on November 15, 2016 [8 favorites]


I want to be tolerant.

"Tolerance" means allowing others their civil rights. It does not mean silence when faced with views you find hateful.
posted by she's not there at 5:35 PM on November 15, 2016 [129 favorites]


I wouldn't spend my money there. I don't accept that it's somehow my responsibility to "understand" people who hate me. That's not to say that everyone who voted for that platform hates me. There are shades of grey, and I do understand the very valid economic complaints from those very same people. They've gotten a raw deal. I absolutely support the government stepping in to assist economically disadvantaged people, whether they're in Cleveland or Fostoria, because that's a principle I believe in strongly. However, I'm not going to spend my personal money in a business whose management is hostile to me.
posted by cnc at 5:35 PM on November 15, 2016 [4 favorites]


You vote most directly in this society with your dollar. Generally, the answer is yes.

However...

I cry every damn day about this election. I'm a registered democrat and I have not really commented on this before, and I don't care about Bill and Hillary's marriage, but the DNC and the politicians they force down our throats are so fucking dirty. They sell us social justice, and the deal is we must look the other way as they support the corporatocracy/oligarchy/globalists - whatever you want to call them - with our tax dollars, access to our resources, erosion of our protections and freedoms. So. Your friend was wrong to vote for Trump, but we're on no moral high ground. We kill people via remote control in foreign lands and call it peace. We are head in the sand. We are no better.

This may not be the person or institution you want to find common ground with, but I am urging everyone I can to understand that we're no better informed than our fellow citizens that voted for Trump. And if we want to make things better and beat the interests that seek to take advantage of us or do bad things with our money and military, we better learn how to listen and reach out in an effort to find common interests.

There are powerful interests out there praying we dissolve into civil unrest. Let's avoid that outcome. You can take this on a case by case basis. You don't have to give your money or friendship to a person or entity that is hostile to your identity. I do think it is interesting this person advocates for women, then is anti-LGBTQ. I feel like this person is reachable sometime down the road.

Sorry you even have to post this question.
posted by jbenben at 5:36 PM on November 15, 2016 [25 favorites]


No, don't spend your money there. There are so many small businesses that could use your patronage, where you won't have to take instruction from someone you find odious or worry that your money is going to be donated to some loathsome cause.

(This applies to whatever you may personally find morally repugnant. It doesn't matter whether anyone else agrees, or what your reasons are. If you think they're making the world worse, you do not have to support their business.)
posted by fingersandtoes at 5:43 PM on November 15, 2016 [5 favorites]


The setup: Businesses aren't friendships. That is true whether we're talking about a megacorp or a mom and pop shop. Businesses have a bottom line, and they accept your payment for services rendered. That relationship is in some ways reciprocal, in that consumers have some protections against denial of service based on certain criteria. But you're already aware that those protections are fluid, and some of the protections are still on the flexible cutting edge of case law.

The delivery: Small businesses present a unique situation, though, because they are so much more open to public persuasion than a megacorp with PR, policy and legal staff. If you have a relationship with a small business owner, you can approach this person as rationally and coolly as you see fit (or as much as you are willing and able to be on the social, not the legal, cutting edge). This zone is entirely personal. I've leaned both ways: we stopped patronizing a restaurant based on some weird Prop 8 stuff a few years ago, without regret, because we didn't have a relationship with (or interest in) the people who could've made a difference; we told a record store owner, who we knew pretty well, that we wouldn't shop at his place as long as a Trump sign was up because we didn't want to attract negative attention to our Modern Family while in the store. The latter worked because the sign was up almost ironically, or at best as a take-down-the-whole-system gesture, not by any pseudo-religious conviction. But we woudn't have known if we hadn't asked. I'm glad we did. I'm sure he still voted for Trump, as is his prerogative, but he stopped associating his business with those politics.

Your dance teacher is her own situation. You know about her beliefs from social media, not from her business. A middle ground might be to ask her about it and judge from her response whether the best next step is to simply take her out of your social media feed, or to stop giving her business money (or any number of other responses). I think you'll have a clearer conviction which approach is best for you if you ask her about your concerns with Trump in a direct but respectful way. Maybe something as simple as asking her after class one day, hey, I don't mean to pry but I saw from Facebook that you voted for Trump, can you tell me more about what made him the choice for you?

Face-to-face conversations are a good thing. I want to get better about starting them up in situations like this. We can only make our own decisions, and getting first-hand information direct from the source is a defensible way to judge another person.
posted by late afternoon dreaming hotel at 5:54 PM on November 15, 2016 [6 favorites]


I think it's reasonable to boycott this business. It's one of the few ways you can send a strong message that you disagree with a position or policy. If you have the stomach for following late afternoon dreaming hotel's suggestion of having a discussion first, great. But regardless, the bottom line is that you are the one paying her; therefore, it's your decision. I think fingersandtoes makes a great point that you can opt to use your money to support other positions and people you agree with.
posted by StrawberryPie at 6:04 PM on November 15, 2016 [3 favorites]


This is something you can only decide for yourself.

However, if the opinion of a stranger on the Internet matters...I wouldn't blame you one bit. I've wondered whether a couple of the businesses I frequent are owned by Trump supporters – I haven't seen anything overt, but there are little cultural signals that they might be, you know? If I knew for sure, I would seriously consider quitting those establishments (and I might even tell them why). It wouldn't be a boycott, really – like, I wouldn't be trying to damage them financially. It's more like...am I really going to walk into that store and make friendly chit-chat with someone who threw all of my PoC, LGBT, and female friends under the bus? Who just handed unchecked power to a crass demagogue who has, loudly and repeatedly, promised to undermine the very foundations of my democracy?

The effort I'd have to make to conceal my pique and contempt wouldn't be worth it (and wouldn't make me feel good). So, I would just stop going to that place.
posted by escape from the potato planet at 6:21 PM on November 15, 2016 [1 favorite]


You can be tolerant of her beliefs without giving her your money. "Tolerance" does not mean putting up with everyone everywhere about everything; you get to have boundaries.

It's a business relationship. You can respect her as a fellow human being who shares the planet with you and decline to voluntarily support her financially.
posted by rtha at 6:25 PM on November 15, 2016 [20 favorites]


I want to be tolerant. I don't want to lecture her or tell her I disagree with basically everything she thinks . . . But I also don't want to pay to look at her for three hours a week. When is it OK to micro-boycott?

It's hard to see it when you're in it, but there is a middle ground here. It would be intolerant if you openly fought with her on Facebook, or approached her and challenged her on her beliefs out of the blue, or harassed her for the way she voted. Or complained on Facebook and threw your politics in her face. You're not doing any of those things. You're not questioning her vote in public or even with her personally. You simply don't want to support a business who openly supports the beliefs of a Trump administration.

Personally, I'm not sure I could deal with a conversation with a Trump voter given that the ones I know have thrown their vote and subsequent win in my face. But that's just me. I think we absolutely need dialogue, understanding and tolerance, but I haven't personally experienced that and if I were in your shoes I'd weigh whether I could deal with a worst case scenario, in terms of a discussion.

Perhaps make a list of the pros and cons of supporting this business and then decide? It might help to see what your motivations are for supporting the business.

It is perfectly OK to wish no harm on this person, to allow her the space to believe what she believes, to live and let live.....and to vote with your dollar and quietly take your business elsewhere.
posted by onecircleaday at 6:28 PM on November 15, 2016 [1 favorite]


My Facebook feed is now revealing a very - apparently religious - enthusiastic support for the entire Republican establishment, support of anti-LGBTQ measures

I'm queer myself and my job relies directly on federal policies that are quite likely to change drastically within a year, and could vaporize my job, so maybe I'm taking this too personally?


I don't know if you wanting to leave this particular studio is being "intolerant" or if this woman is actively trying to let LGBT people know they're no longer welcome there. If your job is going to be gone within a year, I would also start financially planning for that, and not giving money to people who are ideologically opposed to your well-being/existence might be a step towards that. I'm sorry to be so grim.
posted by moonlight on vermont at 6:29 PM on November 15, 2016 [14 favorites]


Very Conservative, Non-Trump supporter here. If we boycotted everyone who had opposing views to our own, our society/culture would be even more polarized than it is now. Trump is/was crass and in many cases offensive.

But my 67-year old Reagan Conservative Dad isn't. My 64-year old NRA Life Member Mom sure isn't. They both voted Trump for their own reasons, along with my queer cousin and immigrant wife. If either of them boycotted liberal businesses, they would be accused of being partisan. Aren't you essentially doing the same thing?

Capitalism is the great equalizer here. If you want to spend your money somewhere, do so. If not, then don't. But for the sake of your sanity, separate people from their political views. My very best friend was a Bernie supporter. Guess what?

Still my best friend.
posted by Master Gunner at 6:29 PM on November 15, 2016 [4 favorites]


Well, at the very least, block her on Facebook or do whatever you have to to not see her posts.

After that.... is she going on about this stuff during class? Can you stomach her if she's not going on about it in class? Can you find a replacement class if you quit this one (sounds like you can't?), and are you okay with quitting dance entirely if you can't stomach her?

I can't really answer those questions for you and I'm not sure what I'd do it if were me either, but it'll depend on how much you love dance and/or can put on a face for a few hours a week, vs. the "That's it, I'm OUT" feeling. There's been boycotts of businesses for having bigoted owners before, so that's a fair choice to make for yourself. If she's not going on about it in class and you stop reading her Facebook, will you be able to pretend long enough to stick it out? If yes, then maybe keep going. If not, then you're out.
posted by jenfullmoon at 6:30 PM on November 15, 2016 [1 favorite]


I think the bottom line here is that you can no longer enjoy her classes, and you should not pay for something you can't enjoy.
posted by ignignokt at 6:30 PM on November 15, 2016 [13 favorites]


I really really understand and feel for you. I attend a dance class about five days a week with some lovely women I have known for going on ten years now. I even teach the class once a week. I'm struggling, because I know that many of them voted for Trump. It's hard not to feel this as a direct betrayal, especially because dance is such an emotional experience for me and one of my few social outlets. But Trump will directly harm my family, which includes lgbt, Hispanic, and immigrant people. I know the other dance instructors are also very angry and sad and questioning. I am considering quitting. But dance also is pure joy for me, and winter looms dark and cold and sad.

What I'm definitely doing is unfollowing people on Facebook and quietly withdrawing from coffee and lunches. I'm just too hurt.
posted by Malla at 6:40 PM on November 15, 2016 [3 favorites]


I know from past discussion that my point of view is pretty unpersuasive to everyone but me. But I'd make a conscious effort to keep politics out of my decision. It might influence my comfort level, sure. But I think it's a poor decision to boycott a small business owner or not hire a contractor over personal political opinions. Same as firing an employee over political engagement on their own time should be illegal.

The main reason is indeed tolerance. I don't want to compel people to vote a certain way because otherwise they couldn't feed their family. (This is as long as they leave the politics out of my business transactions--signs on the shop window, or on the store web site, or unsolicited rants about Obamacare while I'm paying--that's become part of the transaction then.) The other side of the coin is I do think legally they should be required to serve all comers, even if they disagree.

The secondary reason is that making this OK is ultimately a losing game for my side. In this election, for all the white working class crap, it was still the upper income types who voted for the other guys. I think the left comes out ahead if we keep the business world and political world separate.
posted by mark k at 6:44 PM on November 15, 2016 [2 favorites]


Same as firing an employee over political engagement on their own time should be illegal.

Choosing not to purchase services from someone that is legitimizing white nationalism is not at all the same as firing an employee that is quietly into white nationalism and does not expose customers or business partners to their beliefs.

The same way you shouldn't feel bad about not buying cookies from a racist, you shouldn't feel bad about not buying dance classes from this person.
posted by ignignokt at 7:01 PM on November 15, 2016 [15 favorites]


But I also don't want to pay to look at her for three hours a week.

It sounds like you dance for pleasure and relaxation, and you're not getting that at this particular studio anymore because of what you now know about this woman's political and social beliefs. This business no longer provides what you need.

While that is a shame, I don't think going elsewhere under these circumstances is really a boycott*, it is just seeking a service that this person can no longer provide to you. I'd suggest just going elsewhere, unfollowing her on social media, giving an honest assessment of her professional skills if asked, and getting on with your life without drama about this particular situation. If she ever asks you why you stopped coming to her studio, you could explain that the atmosphere no longer felt right to you, and why. Maybe it might mean something to her, maybe not.

*In my view, a boycott would involve actively seeking to dissuade others from patronizing a business for political reasons, and seeking to undermine the owner's revenue stream and, in this case, an individual's ability to make a living. While I can see the reasoning behind this with large corporations, to me doing that to a small business, unless the person is actively and egregiously promoting hate (and apologies if she is doing that, but it's not the impression I got from your question) is crossing the line. While it's important that people realize there are consequences for their behaviour, it's also important not to become what we hate.
posted by rpfields at 7:06 PM on November 15, 2016 [5 favorites]


> It sounds like you dance for pleasure and relaxation, and you're not getting that at this particular studio anymore because of what you now know about this woman's political and social beliefs. This business no longer provides what you need.

Yes, exactly. In this fine capitalist society of ours, I do not owe my money to any business for any reason I choose. I can decide to not patronize a business because they provide poor products or service, or because I don't like their business practices, or because I no longer enjoy what they provide.

For a great many of us, divorcing the personal from the political is not just not simple, it isn't, well, tolerable. The political is personal.
posted by rtha at 7:10 PM on November 15, 2016 [17 favorites]


Agreeing with others above who say the choice is entirely personal, we are the consumer, it is up to us where we spend our money. I just came in to briefly add that when I was in my 20s in the 1970s there were grape boycotts to aid farm workers. Today people's attitude seems to be: "ehhh, what are you gonna do?" I am not saying that today's world isn't more complex than the 1970s, only that I don't think anyone should be embarrassed for voting with their wallet/pocketbook (then or now).
posted by forthright at 7:23 PM on November 15, 2016 [1 favorite]


As a business owner you have to realize that what you say as a person can influence who may shop at your establishment. One either side of the fence. Are her posts also public? Either way she added YOU even though you are a customer.

You are within your right to not want to spend your money there. It's your money and time. You aren't holding money over her head forcing her views. Drop the class and spend your money somewhere you can support.
posted by Crystalinne at 7:30 PM on November 15, 2016 [10 favorites]


Try muting her on Facebook, then take a few weeks off from going to the studio and see how you feel. You're not wrong whatever choice you make.
posted by chimpsonfilm at 7:35 PM on November 15, 2016 [6 favorites]


If either of them boycotted liberal businesses, they would be accused of being partisan. Aren't you essentially doing the same thing?

"Partisan" is not a dirty word. Your queer cousin and his immigrant wife made a partisan decision in voting for Trump. (I think they will be startled to discover how inadequately their (apparently straight?) marriage and whiteness end up protecting them from the consequences of that decision, but that's a question of wisdom, not of whether they should've been partisan or not.) There's nothing wrong with being partisan in politics. That's much of the point.

OP, if you can bring yourself to gently challenge her positions, to put a face on some of the bugbears haunting this woman's imagination, it would be a kind thing. But if you can't...keep in mind that she likely thinks all businesses have the constitutional right to refuse you, as a queer person, service. Be guided accordingly.
posted by praemunire at 8:07 PM on November 15, 2016 [9 favorites]


As you've indicated you're queer, I, personally, would not patronize this business just on the teacher's support of anti-LGBTQ measures alone -- it would make me terribly uncomfortable to know I'm giving my money to someone who doesn't feel I should have the same rights as them. Also, the Republican establishment she's so fond of, and identifies with, is all too eager to put into policy their right to deny services and care to those in the LGBTQ community based on their religious beliefs. This, in particular, has a very real possibility of impacting you directly (especially in 2017).

That said, I don't buy into this BS that marginalized people somehow 'owe' the fascists, racists and homophobes all kinds of tolerance and understanding when they are not extending it themselves. Why is it upon the marginalized to 'not stoop to their level' or be labeled intolerant themselves? I'd argue that line of thinking is simply used to try and shame people (typically those who dread being labeled intolerant/close-minded) into remaining passive as they continue to be marginalized. And for that matter, why does the onus of education, once again, fall upon the marginalized? So I say F all that.

Since money is so important to a business owner, I think acting with your pocketbook is perfectly fine here, so as to send a message that these views are abhorrent and will ultimately lose her business (whether she cares if she loses business from someone who identifies as queer (ie: the LGBTQ community) is a different story). You can tell her why you're leaving -- or not. It may or may not change her views or behavior -- but perhaps it will make her think more carefully about the personal information/views she's making accessible to the public and that can later be associated with her business.

Please note that I'm not suggesting a boycott or anything of that nature. Just that you are well within your rights to discontinue purchasing services from a business owner who makes you uncomfortable. It doesn't matter WHAT makes you uncomfortable --whether it's their views towards people like you or the type of font they use for their store sign -- it doesn't matter -- you get to choose who/where/what you spend your money on.
posted by stubbehtail at 8:10 PM on November 15, 2016 [15 favorites]


I guess I'm a different opinion. How is her behaviour in class? Does she keep her politics to herself? You could be patronizing so many more supporters that you don't know about.

I would still go, and be my fabulous queer self, and dance.

But that's me. I seriously love to dance.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 8:18 PM on November 15, 2016


I don't buy into this BS that marginalized people somehow 'owe' the fascists, racists and homophobes all kinds of tolerance and understanding when they are not extending it themselves. Why is it upon the marginalized to 'not stoop to their level' or be labeled intolerant themselves? I'd argue that line of thinking is simply used to try and shame people (typically those who dread being labeled intolerant/close-minded) into remaining passive as they continue to be marginalized. And for that matter, why does the onus of education, once again, fall upon the marginalized? So I say F all that.

A million times this. You're not starting a boycott of her, you're not blasting her on social media, you're not denying her the right to marry who she choose, you're not infringing on her civil liberties. You're not doing anything but deciding, "eh, I don't think I want to patronize a person whose political beliefs are abhorrent to me." That's COMPLETELY ALLOWED, and, honestly, people chose to stop patronizing businesses for less all the time (I left my dentist's office because their receptionist was really rude.). I cancelled my People subscription because they immediately ran a cheery story about Trump as soon as he was elected. People's words have consequences. One of the consequences of her espousing anti-LGBTQ rhetoric is that she lost a queer client. To me, that seems entirely fair.

You're not overreacting.
posted by Countess Sandwich at 8:32 PM on November 15, 2016 [19 favorites]


The studio owner obviously doesn't keep her politics to herself. If the OP is patronizing other Trump supporters without knowing it, then those supporters are maintaining respectful business relationships. If the owner wants to friend clients and then post potentially offensive things, she is oblivious to how Facebook works or doesn't care and should just expect to lose clients over the things she posts. Absolutely don't pay for an experience you don't feel comfortable with, and you don't have to tell anyone why you left if you don't want to.
posted by transient at 8:35 PM on November 15, 2016 [6 favorites]


You know so much about this person based on what you read on Facebook.

But here is the thing: Facebook sucks.

You have a lot of notions about who this person is - but we are all the heroes of our own stories. Your instructor does not likely think she is a shitty, racist person. She is a person who feels so strongly about fill in the blank conservative issue that she is willing to overlook fill in many, many blanks abhorrent beliefs.

Let's fill in the blanks.

Is it possible for you to have a conversation with this person outside of class and Facebook? Like, a coffee, to get to know her personality outside of instructor/student, to see what her life is like and understand where she is coming from, to know her story, what happened to her to make her this way.

'hey, you know, I've been reading the stuff you post on Facebook. We have some things in common, like our love for dance and female empowerment and xyz, and I value our instructor/student relationship. However, I'm troubled because we differ on some core political beliefs, and this election has been crazy, there's so much anger and intolerance on my Facebook feed. Would you be up for getting some tea with me after next class? I'd like to know more about your story, because I'm working on being more tolerant of others beliefs.'

That counts as a best faith effort, in my book. You might be the first progressive person to ever take the time to reach out. You might not, and find out for sure in 5 minutes that the ugliness that is shown on Facebook mirrors an ugly core right below the surface.

Who knows? And if you don't want to do anything hard like that, that's totally cool too. Metafilter blesses your choice, whatever it is, in this dilemma.

You are a good person for aiming to be more tolerant, and I am proud of you, mibo. Best of luck in your choices (I hope you get to keep dancing!).
posted by enfa at 8:54 PM on November 15, 2016 [1 favorite]


Boycott all businesses that are supporting trump-not because it is a different political opinion from you -difference is healthy for us and our democracy-but trump is not different, he is hate personified. The dollars you give such businesses is going to create and is empowering hate as well as polices based on such, against you and millions of other Americans. Do the right thing now, as liberals we need to start dropping the "nice" position, we have been too nice too long. As we were busy being nice, we have allowed a bully to walk all over us taking advantage of what has been perceived as a weakness. Your money talks, and boy it will talk loudly.
posted by metajim at 10:15 PM on November 15, 2016 [11 favorites]


One thing to consider is that any money you give her is then hers to donate to right-wing groups and politicians as she so chooses. You would be actively working against your own interests. That's why it makes sense not to patronize her business anymore. Not just because she's all for stripping you of your rights, which is bad enough, but because you might even be helping her achieve that goal by supporting her financially. I, personally, could not and would not continue a business relationship in this situation.
posted by i feel possessed at 10:19 PM on November 15, 2016 [6 favorites]


(Beaten to the punch by metajim, but I agree with him.)
posted by i feel possessed at 10:20 PM on November 15, 2016


In this particular situation, a local small business where you have personal contact with the proprietor every time you visit, I would probably find a new dance studio. You have no obligations to this person, and frankly I wouldn't even tell her why you're leaving. Just don't go back.

FWIW my partner and I run a facility that we rent out for hobby purposes, and if we had someone inform us "we don't need the space anymore", "we ended up going somewhere else", etc. it would be nothing personal. Whereas someone telling us they're leaving because we're Clinton supporters, or atheists, or whatever, would be really awkward.
posted by Sara C. at 10:22 PM on November 15, 2016


If something is harmful to you, you have a right not to have it in your life.
posted by heyjude at 10:34 PM on November 15, 2016 [1 favorite]


> That counts as a best faith effort, in my book.

If this is a personal relationship you value, then sure, you can try this if you want.

But also remember that when people post things on facebook - like how much they approve of the words and actions of a racist misogynist - they are telling you something about themselves. it is not weird or unusual to take them at their word and believe what they tell you.

I spent some time this weekend with some queers I know who have family (parents, siblings) who support Trump, and without exception, my queer friends are the ones who have been doing ALL the emotional labor in these relationships, trying every way they can to explain how hurt they are by their families choosing this man. Without exception, their concerns and pain have been brushed off with varieties of "it's just politics get over it."

You are under no - none, zero, zip - obligation to give this woman your time, pain, or access to your emotional and psychological vulnerability. Likewise your money.
posted by rtha at 10:54 PM on November 15, 2016 [11 favorites]


My mother recently accused me of being intolerant, because I shared with her that I was sad and disappointed that she voted for Trump, when he has promised to implement policies that would directly harm me and my loved ones. To crib from Scalia, this is malarkey.

Civil rights for all Americans is not a position about which decent, reasonable people can disagree. I might think you were overreacting if you decided not to patronize a business because its owner had different ideas than you on apportioning funds for highways, specific trade policies, etc (although I still would think you had the right to). But "tolerance" does not demand that you happily accept someone who doesn't believe that all Americans deserve the same human rights. Full stop.

Acting like racism, misogyny, queer phobia, and Islamaphobia are "normal" political positions, about which we mustn't judge, is unconscionable. You should feel no obligation to even socialize with, let alone contribute to the livliehood of, someone who literally sees you as less of a full person than they are. Arguments to the contrary are not given in good faith, but rather to take advantage of your good nature and manipulate you into accepting that which is unacceptable. They should be ignored.
posted by CtrlAltDelete at 11:18 PM on November 15, 2016 [14 favorites]


Trump and his ilk want to take away your rights (e.g. to marry). You can't go along with that.
posted by xammerboy at 12:52 AM on November 16, 2016


Acting like racism, misogyny, queer phobia, and Islamaphobia are "normal" political positions, about which we mustn't judge, is unconscionable.

I agree with this response wholeheartedly. The level of explicit racism, misogyny, and homophobia in Trump's campaign were unprecedented. His campaign was run by a known white nationalist; he wants to bring back torture; he literally argued for the murder of children who are related to the wrong person; he makes threats of libel suits against the free press. The list goes on.

This is not politics as normal.

Comparisons to conservatives boycotting liberal businesses are a false equivalence. Politically motivated boycotts are not in of themselves wrong. There is a difference between boycotting for an unjust or petty reason, and boycotting for a justified one. Not wanting to pay to spend time with a woman who is a literal advocate for your oppression is a completely justified one.

Two things I would consider in your position, though:

- It's not possible to turn this into a principle that you follow all of the time. It's a choice that you can make for your own comfort, and that alone is completely justified. So don't tie yourself up in knots if you can't make this decision in other cases.

- If you decide to continue taking classes with her, that is also all right. There are many things you can do. In your position, I would probably let her know that I'm queer somehow -- and her response to that would decide how I proceed. Knowing someone who is queer can change people's opinions over time, which is a possible benefit of staying. You don't need to sacrifice your comfort and feeling of safety to change this woman's opinions, but if you do decide to stay there is this potential silver lining to comfort yourself with.
posted by Kutsuwamushi at 3:09 AM on November 16, 2016 [6 favorites]


Either choice you make, I think it would be worthwhile to talk to her. You don't have to, but I think leaving her business won't impact her as much as her knowing why you left. If you're afraid to talk to her, that's a really big sign that you should not patronize her business. You could say, "I'm not sure if I'm comfortable coming here anymore." I know this would be a hard conversation to have and I'm not even sure if I could do it. But I think it's worth a very serious consideration.
posted by areaperson at 5:15 AM on November 16, 2016


"If either of them boycotted liberal businesses, they would be accused of being partisan. Aren't you essentially doing the same thing?"

This business owner didn't have to friend her customer on Facebook and intentionally expose her to material that could imply her customer isn't welcome at her studio. If some of her customers leave after she's broadcasted what she thinks of them, then that's her own bad PR decision and she should've kept her opinions separate from her professional life.

I say this because the business owner friended the OP on Facebook, not the other way around. If you go looking for business contacts' social media accounts where they have a perfect right to express themselves, obviously you won't always like what you find and you know that when you go looking.

Nevertheless, quite apart from her unpalatable views, the business owner has really stuck her foot in her mouth here and is probably deluded that her customers won't take it personally, or she's opposed to LGBTQ people except the ones she knows, or whatever variation on that theme. It seems unlikely that it's personally directed at the OP, and at the same time, the OP obviously will take it personally.

I don't have any suggestions other than yeah, vote with your dollar, but this problem really is not of the OP's making. The fact is, a business owner sought out a customer on social media and then published controversial material without - at best - considering that they'd insulted their customer.
posted by tel3path at 5:17 AM on November 16, 2016 [10 favorites]


It is ALWAYS okay to boycott. Donald Trump is our President-elect because a large swath of Americans brushed aside his racism, misogyny, anti-Semitism... the list goes on. In that light, I consider it our duty to address and condemn these hateful values whenever we find them, from the national level to the personal. Millions have already decided not to. If we don't, who will?

Whether you decide to continue supporting her business or not, the brave and good thing to do would be to address this with her. Either in person or via email, but privately. You can say something like: "I believe in freedom of expression and respect political differences, but Trump represents a unique and unprecedented threat to human rights and I cannot stand aside on this matter. I think you're a lovely person and I love this studio, so this is an extremely difficult decision for me, but this goes beyond personal or business matters."

You're right, it would be shitty if she dropped you because you voted for, like, higher taxes. It is not shitty to drop someone who tolerates and enables hate.

Easier said than done, I know. I'm working on standing up to people too. I think we all need to.
posted by Metroid Baby at 5:46 AM on November 16, 2016 [5 favorites]


I would drop her and I would tell her why, but I wouldn't make it about any issue except the personal one. You can tell her that particular policies are going to affect you (as a queer person) in specific ways and you are hurt by her support. Do you think she is really homophobic, or she's just mindlessly sharing what her conservative friends are posting? When she is forced to look you, an ostensible "friend" (at least on Facebook), in the eye and tell you that she doesn't care about ruining your life, she may have some second thoughts. My coworker literally did not know that I have no employment protections (trans guy here). It doesn't excuse her vote, but she is forced to deal with the cognitive dissonance of respecting me vs. trampling on my right to exist.

But think of your own mental health first. You may not be able to have this conversation and that's okay.
posted by AFABulous at 7:14 AM on November 16, 2016 [5 favorites]


It sounds like what you had with her was previously cool but now has soured, and you're allowed to feel that and to not want to continue.

I think one of the best things the larger queer community can do is focus on building the future we want to see, which includes supporting each other and not pretending that this stuff doesn't matter. Stop giving her your money, stop having to see her, plan for your financial future, and maybe find an LGBTQ-owned or -run business to patronize.
posted by bile and syntax at 7:55 AM on November 16, 2016 [1 favorite]


"If this is a personal relationship you value, then sure, you can try this if you want."

Based on the asker's statements:

"I just cannot grasp how someone who is so enthusiastic about promoting women to feel strong and beautiful could possibly support him."

" I love to dance and it's hard to find elsewhere."

"Or, how can I learn to be more tolerant?"

My reading is that mibo likes this dance environment, that the environment is otherwise supportive within the class, and mibo likely has allies within the class who feel similarly.

I realize its an unpopular opinion, and that we'd all like to just cut off any Trump supporter from our lives. But there's a lot of Trump supporters. It is not realistic to expect them to change their viewpoints if we shut off any avenues of conversation with them. That reinforces their conservative bubble and our progressive bubble, and reaffirms our respective biases. Let's not have that be our default reaction, 100% of the time.

Having conversations like I propose above, which are HARD and require an overabundance of emotional labor to initiate, is the way we get to understanding others views so that we can be civil and tolerate each other. We need to have a society that is inclusive for everyone, and we need to make the case for society one conversation at a time, and it is going to take us well beyond 2020 to get there.

We need to, sometimes, be civil in our interactions, and let our behavior be a model for others to follow. Yes, stay angry. Yes, the things they believe are abhorrent. Yes, cut people out when they're un-civil, rude, unkind, or hateful to you. Stand up for yourself when you can find the strength to do so. This is extra hard, because one of the things I assume you love about dance is that it is restorative, so you have more strength to fight your battles.

But it you want to learn tolerance yourself, and model that behavior for others to follow, and understand why people think differently than you to the point that they parrot hate speech on their social media platforms, if you care about not getting part of the picture, if you care about moving our nation forward, you have to lead, sometimes, with olive branches.

That said, another thought - if this conversation seems too hard to have solo with the instructor, mibo, have you made friends with other students in your dance class, who might be allies, and talked to them? Perhaps you and others in the class, allies, could, you know, stand Stronger Together?
posted by enfa at 9:39 AM on November 16, 2016 [1 favorite]


This a tough thing many of us are dealing with in the immediate aftermath of the election. Here's my take. The only thing that changed from when you found a fun woman-positive place to dance is that you found out the owner is conservative. It clearly doesn't have an impact on her business. I would unfollow her socially, keep the relationship professional and keep supporting a small business that (in your own words) "vociferously advocates for women's self-esteem, empowerment, and body acceptance."

It sounds to me like she keeps her personal beliefs separate from the business, which is a positive (to me). If you're afraid your money will suddenly go to Trump-esque causes, or you just can't tolerate her anymore, walk away with a clear conscience. But think about the "shitty" reasons in your last column. She's not blasting her views in her studio and dumping clients for their voting records, so maybe meet her halfway?
posted by jhope71 at 11:39 AM on November 16, 2016


I've been doing this for a long time. About 20 years ago I was in one of my favorite stores. They had really cool stuff you just couldn't find anywhere else. But one day I came in and Rush Limbaugh was playing on the radio. I turned around and left and never even thought about them again until just now.
Same thing with TV. I've seen how misinformation changed the people I cared about after watching that noisy box, so I refuse to watch. Maybe I miss out on some terrific shows, but that's a price I'm willing to pay. It's not easy to have principles, but change has to start somewhere.
posted by ambulocetus at 3:52 PM on November 16, 2016


I don't see how this is any different from buying Fair Trade products, not buying sweatshop clothes, or being socially conscious as a consumer. There are very few ways to 'vote' outside of elections (choosing your friends carefully being one of them), and this is one of them.
posted by kinoeye at 4:42 PM on November 16, 2016


I don't see how this is any different from buying Fair Trade products, not buying sweatshop clothes, or being socially conscious as a consumer.

Because those are directly related to the business transactions in question.
posted by mark k at 9:24 PM on November 16, 2016



I don't see how this is any different from buying Fair Trade products, not buying sweatshop clothes, or being socially conscious as a consumer.

Because those are directly related to the business transactions in question.


Seems as directly related as cutting off federal funding to sanctuary cities.
posted by kinoeye at 10:10 PM on November 16, 2016


I love to dance and it's hard to find elsewhere...But I also don't want to pay to look at her for three hours a week.

You are in a reasonably large city that there should be plenty of choices available.

If you don't want to keep taking dance from her, it's ok to look for a different place.

You could also consider trying out unfollowing her on social media and seeing if that makes a difference for you.
posted by yohko at 8:00 PM on November 17, 2016


« Older I don't get pins and needles anymore, is this a...   |   Transitioning from full time work to non-profit... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.