I have an oooooolllllld friend (I think I’ve known him 20 years now) whom I had lost track of, and was very happy to find on Facebook. Although I haven’t seen him since our college years, we’ve caught up, reminisced, swapped recipes, talked politics, et cetera. It’s good.
This friend has two preschool-age kids and is himself back in school, while his wife is “in the professions,” as they say, so as the SAHD, many of his status updates are about his kid-wrangling adventures. Some are funny, some aren’t. Like the one he posted late last week, which went something like this.
Dork’s Friend has picked up the house, bathed the kids, and roasted a chicken all before 6pm. Ladies?
There were a few comments from “ladies” like “Friend’s Wife is a lucky woman!” and “Can you teach my husband how to do that? LOL” HUR HUR HUR MEN R LAZY AND USELESS. NO. He’s smarter than that. He better be smarter than that. So I added my own comment, which looked something like this:
Wow, Friend, you’ve just managed to do what millions of women all over the world do every. single. day, without looking for strokes. Here’s your cookie.
I worried, after the fact, that my comment sounded too harsh, too bitchy. Had I said it to him, I could have indicated that I was affectionately–but pointedly–razzing him for a neanderthal attitude, but it’s hard to indicate tone while typing. I kept fearing a nasty response, either from my friend, or one of his friends. It didn’t come, and so I clicked over to his page with the intent of seeing if what I’d done was, in retrospect, inappropriate, and possibly following up. The status update and its subsequent comments (including mine) were gone. They had been replaced with this:
Dork’s Friend made a dumb, condescending, chauvinistic joke on one of his status updates yesterday, for which he apologizes. And thank you to the person who pointed it out and put him in his place. He is now leaving 1952.
Sweet. I knew I liked that guy.
All this to say two things:
1) Even “good guys,” allies, will occasionally say and/or do dumbass things. If they’re really good guys, they’ll cop to it and apologize.
2) Speak up. Choose your words and tone to fit the occasion and relationship, but don’t be silent. Maybe you won’t get the response you’d prefer (you know anything about that, Becky Sharper?), but maybe you will. Maybe what you’ll say will snap someone out of 1952.
I didn’t change the world, exactly, but maybe I changed a mind. It’s a start.
P.S. I just this morning got an email from Friend, thanking me “for pointing out what an ass [he] sounded like last week….Old sexist habits die hard.” Extra sweet.