DEAR AMY: My women friends and I are all mothers of teenagers. Due to current events, we’ve discussed sexual assault and the roles and responsibilities of the various parties. One of my closest friends expressed the opinion that many girls these days “dress like tramps,” so it’s not surprising that boys respond sexually. She even said she had accused her own teenage daughter of this, and then turned to her 13-year-old son, saying that there are two kinds of girls: the ones you could take home to your family and the “other kind.” My other good friend seemed to agree. I said I thought this was a huge mistake, and that she was teaching her son that it’s OK to mistreat girls. In a separate conversation, three moms stated that they have told their sons that they need to watch out for girls these days, because girls are likely to falsely allege sexual assault. Another mom stated that “the girls deserve what they get” because of the way they dress. I asked her if she meant rape. She shrugged and said, “Maybe not rape, but I bet they like getting touched.” My two other friends nodded in agreement. I responded that I hoped she was not teaching this to her son, and then I abruptly left, literally seeing red. Amy, I am floored. I believe that girls should be respected, regardless of their clothing choices. I’ve made this clear to my daughters and my son. Some of the women I’m describing are my best friends, and I’m struggling to reconcile their views with the kind people they otherwise are. Your advice if this comes up again?
DEAR FRUSTRATED: Your friends’ despicable “advice” to their teenage sons and daughters is not only ethically wrong, but it is placing other teens at risk. Your own daughter, for example, is interacting with teenage boys who are being told that girls “deserve” to be touched against their will, or assaulted, and that they are basically asking for it.
I only agree with one aspect of this advice, although not for the reason this mom intended: Yes, boys would be wise to “watch out” for girls these days, because girls these days are more likely to fight back or report unwanted touching or sexual assault, rather than silently suffer for years the way women in previous generations have done.
You should continue to advocate for advanced thinking with your friends in this regard. This will affect your friendship, because these women are showing you who they are. They are not wise, or kind — and they are not good or responsible parents.
DEAR AMY: I have three older brothers. My oldest, who lives a six-hour drive from us, is hosting a birthday celebration in six months for my 65th birthday. He sent out “hold the date” notices. My youngest brother is attending, but my middle brother (who lives near me) says he already has concert tickets for that weekend, so he can’t attend. My oldest brother has a huge house and is housing several relatives. Three of his grandchildren, whom my middle brother has never met, will be there. Is having tickets to a concert a reasonable excuse for not seeing relatives he has yet to meet? Should I feel slighted?
DEAR SLIGHTED: Your brother is slighting all of you. I assume that if he had responded to the invitation saying, “Jerry Garcia is coming back from the dead to sing with The Dead on that date, and I’ve been waiting for this all my life, I’m so sorry...,” you would probably understand his reasoning.
As it is, you should assume that there are other, varied reasons for your brother to stay away, and this is not solely about you.
DEAR AMY: I was appalled by your advice to “Wondering Woman,” who had a man approach her in a neighborhood place, asking where she lived. She refused to supply her address — and you urged her to be nice! When are we going to stop forcing women to be “nice?!”
DEAR APPALLED: No person should reflexively supply personal details to a stranger, as I said in my answer.
“Wondering” asked how to deflect this sort of inquiry, and I offered suggestions.
I also suggested logical reasons for why this man might wonder which house in the neighborhood was hers. I also noted that his angry reaction to her refusal was indefensible.
I believe that the time to stop being “nice” — is never. This goes for everyone.