Hi, Bonita. Love the column. I have a quandary and could use some outside perspective. Many of my friends have kids (a totally legitimate life choice). As a non-child-having mid-life female, however, at times I am faced with uncomfortable situations with my friends' kids that I don't have the proper resources to deal with gracefully. How other people parent their offspring is none of my business, just as my total disinterest in procreating is no one's business. Sometimes, though, I'll witness a friend telling their kid something or dealing with their kid in a way that I consider damaging to the kid's well-being. And I'm stuck between saying something for the kid's sake, or holding my peace to avoid the unpleasantness of being told I don't know what I'm talking about because I'm not a parent. People are touchy about their kids, and understandably so. They can also be defensive about parenting, and I don't blame them; it's tough job I don't envy. So, what's a caring way to point out to friends that their actions towards their kids might be lame?
Not Asking For a Friend
I don't want kids any more than you do, NAFAF. I'm sitting in a bar right now on a Monday at 8 p.m., and I know in my heart that I would never trade this luxury for something that systematically shits its pants. I certainly don't think I have any business telling anyone how to parent, either, but I was once a child, too. We can all look back at moments in our childhood that changed us for the worse, and it hurts when you see any kid being subjected to that same trauma.
I think you'd be doing that tiny future adult a disservice by letting her parent do something you know will be damaging to her in the future. Yet telling most parents to shape up will get you cursed out. So, this is what I've actually done before: In private, tell that parent about the same trauma happening to you as a kid. Give the parent details, if it's not too painful for you, and tell him or her how it still affects you today. Do not mention the kid at any point. Just tell that person about how your own parent did you wrong, and they'll connect the dots.
Any good parent probably second-guesses himself all the time, so maybe it's crappy to insert more doubt into an already concerned mind, but you owe it to the child—I care about the kid more than the parent in this equation.
Let us both remove our feminist sweatpants for a moment and talk about the word "slut.” What is your definition of the word? Can a man be a slut? My perpetually horny male friend says no. Is he right?
Bonita defines the word “slut” this way: a single person of any gender who has casual sex and enjoys it. Your idiot friend probably defines it this way: a woman who has sex with lots of men while not being in a relationship with any of them. Most often, that woman is not having sex with the man who is calling her a slut, thus making her deserving of the title, in his eyes. The good woman is one who puts out for whoever courts her. For dumb guys, “slut” is defined subjectively. Being a slut is bad, by this definition, and men can't be slutty, because they're the ones being sought after. This definition is antiquated and misogynistic.
Of course men can be slutty. Anyone can be slutty, and there's nothing wrong with that! Anyone can enjoy sex and be fine with having it with no strings attached. There's nothing wrong with an informed and consensual sex act between two adults. If your friend actually feels this way, then I recommend you stop talking feminism with him. He sounds like the kind of guy who blames his farts on his dog and laughs at the handicapped. Don't hang out with knuckle-draggers, Pantaloons.