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The Book of the Face

Maggie Smith as Professor McGonagall with text "Professor McBadass"

There is more to teaching and life than having a good small-talk game.

Dear Captain Awkward,

This question is not so much about a single major situation or a crisis as it is about a recurring, if minor, situation that I encounter again and again. I am a graduate student at a medium-sized research university where graduate students do a lot of teaching. As a result, I encounter former students on campus on a very regular basis. I hope very much to keep teaching college students long-term, though who knows what my future holds.

The problem I have is this. My classes are often fairly popular with students, in part because my teaching persona is very warm and approachable, and in the classroom, I am good at not taking myself too seriously and putting other people (i.e. students) at ease. In real life I am none of those things: I am awkward, introverted, and ill-at-ease with social acquaintances, and I overread Every. Damn. Detail. of routine social interactions. I often feel that students who run into me in public social settings (at coffee shops, libraries, etc.) are surprised by what they perceive as a change in my affect, and that–put bluntly–I make them feel uncomfortable when they greet me after our class is over. I hate that. I feel I talk too long, or not long enough, or that I greet them when they’d rather avoid me, or that I avoid them when they’d rather greet me.

I should say that, while many college instructors resist or resent outside encounters with students, I don’t feel that way at all. I enjoy keeping up with former students. Even more importantly, I think that students at my large, cold, competitive institution need as many one-on-one adult contacts as they can get, and that it’s important for them to feel like they are part of a supportive social network made up of people of many different ages. I think that having good, positive, low-key, supportive encounters–not with every single student, but with students who actually want to say “hi” or catch up briefly in passing–is an important part of my job. But I’m not good at it.

I’m asking you because I know you are a college professor, and I imagine that–like me–you have a lot of students who would like to keep in touch, or who check in when you pass them in the hallway. Any advice on how to make these encounters productive, or at least comfortable?

Wants to Be That Supportive Former Teacher

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Hi there Captain!

I’m a 36 year-old mom of two adorable boys (6 and 2). I also have no friends. I’m not entirely OK with not having friends, but I’ve gotten used to it over the past 30 years or so of not-having-friends-ness. What I’m less OK with is that my Big Guy seems to be following in my footsteps, and it’s making me worry.

A bit of background:

I grew up being *that kid*, the one who is always picked on, outcast, and very lonely (but not bullied, really). Elementary school was *really* tough. By the time I got to high school, I had a regular table I could sit at for lunch, Science Team and Quiz Bowl competitions I could attend and do well in (with said lunch-mates), and excessively high grades and test scores. Still couldn’t really call them “friends”. *They* all hung out and did the usual social stuff that high school nerds do outside of high school. I was just never included.

Those high grades? Came about because of my parents, who prioritized high grades above EVERYTHING ELSE. Including a social life. I mean, I’m sure they were concerned about my social life, but it was always “Studies first, (dance second), and anything that can distract from your studies can come afterwards”. So I complied, because my father’s commitment to making sure I succeeded academically was *really* intense.

As an adult, (as in, many, many years after the fact), I figured out that I had/have ADHD-inattentive type, which led to me not being able to finish my homework/keep track of all my crap. And also makes it hard for me to follow a conversation without spacing out in the middle of someone else’s sentence. And then have a hard time knowing what to say next. So: schoolwork not getting done, leads to me “not having time” for a social life. And in school, my fellow nerds were nice and friendly and let me sit at the lunch table, but I still felt like an outsider, because I was always ten steps behind them conversationally.

College was worse than high school, because my family uprooted their entire lives and moved three whole states so I could live at home in a three bedroom apartment and commute to school. They would make sure I didn’t flunk out (see above re: intense commitment to my academic achievement). And since I was at the most competitive, intense university in the world, you can fill in the blanks about how much of a social life I was able to manage.

So I never had a chance to navigate friendships and relationships as a kid and teenager (and young adult). I got married because Arranged Marriage is a common thing in my culture and I was completely OK with it. My husband is a bit of an introvert who doesn’t feel the need to have many friends, and likes his peace and quiet and political blogs and weird YouTubes of politicians from our country screaming at each other.

So how does this affect my kid? I don’t know how to make mom-friends. I was supposed to “join a playgroup” and “set up playdates” and then socialize with each other while our babies did their baby-stuff. But I didn’t know how to get from “Hi, nice to see you at our monthly breastfeeding support group” to “Hey there friend! Wanna get together for (whatever it is that friends *do* together. Seriously, WHAT?!)”. And now that he’s in Kindergarten, I STILL don’t know. All the other moms somehow know each other already. Their kids go on playdates with each other. They all stand around in their little circles on the blacktop before afternoon pickup and talk about whatever it is they talk about (Seriously, WHAT?!?!?). Big Guy gets the occasional birthday party invitation, but even there, the other moms know each other better than they know me, so I’m the odd one out again. (WHAT DO THEY TALK ABOUT IN THEIR LITTLE CIRCLES? I edged into a circle once, and one of the moms was asking the other where she got her hair done. I get my hair done at Supercuts.)

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Dear Captain Awkward.

You have advised that a person does not “owe” anyone else their time, friendship, or anything, and I agree with this.

However, I am struggling with being on the receiving end of this. My mother in law stopped speaking to me. And I feel SO MUCH anger and hurt over this; I have been obsessed about it for a year and a half now.

A little background: I hit it off with my MIL the first time we met, and we had a great relationship for 8 years. We spoke on the phone at least weekly, having long, fun. and close conversations, and always enjoyed seeing each other. All visits/plans/holidays were coordinated with me, and I was included in everything. We were good friends!

That ended after a visit to help them with an upcoming move. We had a bit to drink one evening, and the conversation turned a bit heated. I went to excuse myself from the table, and my FIL yelled at me, twice, “Fuck you!” My MIL was horrified and yelled at him to stop; he regretted it immediately and apologized profusely, with tears. I forgave, and thought all would be fine.

Following that, she stopped speaking to me. I thought a “cooling off” period would be good, but it never ended. It’s as if I am not in the family any more. I have made many overtures to my in-laws that I hold no grudge, and to try to get things back to normal. I have called, attempting friendly conversation (and get blown off). I have offered to travel to family events with her. I have shared pictures of trips, and sent nice holiday cards. My husband and brother in law have asked her why she no longer talks to me (her answer, “I don’t know”). Nothing changes. All the calls, texts, emails, Facebook posts, etc. that are exchanged amongst the family leave me out.

I HATE this. It makes me so angry and upset! I hate being excluded. I hate that the close relationship we had apparently meant nothing to her. I hate visiting them, where they all act friendly with each other while I sit there quietly. I hate seeing her be nice and friendly to everyone but me. And now, I hate her too. I want to punish her, and never see them again (which I won’t do, because that wouldn’t be fair to my husband). And, I hate feeling that way. I don’t want to have all this anger and hurt. Please help me deal with this. I know she has a right to do this, but I can’t seem to accept it.

Signed,

Sad and Angry

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Ahoy Cap’n,

This isn’t a particularly dramatic question, but I’m stumped. I’m a dude who would like to say he’s in his mid-twenties, but probably can’t anymore. For a long time, I would have said I was straight. I was attracted to women, dated them and had relationships with them.  Then, a couple of years ago, I randomly met a guy I knew immediately was going to be a huge deal to me, and I was right: Two years later, we’re getting married, w00t! I’m lucky in that I come from a really liberal, relaxed background, so it was more of a ‘huh, that was unexpected’ situation, rather than a cause for major upheaval.

My question relates to my high school girlfriend, and do I tell her anything (specifically that I’m bi, as opposed to gay, which seems to be what everybody assumes)? On the one hand I think not, because we’re not in touch anymore and I wouldn’t even think to ask this question if I were marrying a woman, but on the other, we were together on and off for almost all of high school, and were each other’s ‘firsts’ in every way that I can think of. I obviously don’t want her back, and I don’t for a second think she wants me, but she/our relationship was really special to me and I still look back on it fondly. I guess what I’m thinking is that I know she’ll find out through the grapevine that I’m with a guy now, if she hasn’t already, and I don’t want her to feel like our relationship wasn’t what she thought it was, if that makes sense? Like, if she’d come out as gay, I think I might be a little sad somehow, because it would mean that we didn’t have what I’d thought we had? I’d wonder if I should have known, and helped/supported her, and I’d doubt myself and the lessons I learned through that love. Also, I’d feel guilty looking back on it happily, because how can you, if you later found out the other person wasn’t as happy as you thought? I feel like I’d want to know, but I also can’t think of a way of telling her that doesn’t come across as horribly narcissistic, basically calling someone up and going ‘hey, getting married to someone else next year, but just FYI, I was totally into you back then’.

FWIW, Fiancé is totally cool with me potentially getting in touch with her, but doesn’t want to express an opinion either way as to what I should do, since he doesn’t know her/our situation.

Thanks!

We get a lot of “should I reach out to this person from my past and tell them something” questions here at Captain Awkward Dot Com Enterprises, and I am trying to develop a working framework on how to tell whether this is actually might be a good idea.

I think the questions to ask are:

  1. Who am I really doing this for?
  2. What do I want to happen after I reach out? I.e. Is this a beginning or an ending?

If this is just a drive-by, where you say your “Hey, I need to tell you something, bye!” and then ride off into the sunset again, then who is this really serving?

If this is about you reconnecting with someone who was very important to you once upon a time, great! As long as you are open to rekindling some kind of ongoing communication or friendship (even a very loose, casual, or even ambient Facebook “friend”ship). Track down her info. Tell her your good news. Introduce her to your dude. Ask about her life. Make plans to hang out for a drink if you are both heading to your hometown for the holidays. Most importantly, assume nothing about how she will react to your news or how it might change the way she saw your relationship. The fact of your upcoming wedding will come up, and you’ll probably have an opportunity to say “Yeah, after high school I figured out I was bi.” If she has the kind of feelings you are imagining, let her be the one to bring them up. But chances are that even if the relationship was an important & positive one, she doesn’t think about you all that much these days and her response will be something like “I did not see that coming. But I’m happy for you!” The goal is coffee, not FEELINGSCOFFEE.

Because I think you’re over-thinking this a lot! When you end a relationship, you don’t have to keep working through issues of how you felt about the person…with that person. One of the reasons that I advocate taking a no-contact break after a breakup, even if you do intend to remain friends, is to give everyone time to get past the need to solve or fix or analyze the problems of a relationship that is no longer happening. There are no clean slates, but there should be a “BYGONES” slate where former partners who are now friends agree not to rehash the past.

So that’s my advice. Seek your old friend for her own sake, for the possible pleasure of her company, or not at all. And if you do, assume nothing about what she feels or needs. She has her own story about what happened between you and the years you spent apart. Let her tell it clean.

Now and then it’s interesting to see the search terms that bring people here, and, since they are in the form of a question, give some short answers. I’ve added punctuation but otherwise left the texts unaltered.

“Pushing someone to accept something they aren’t ready to.”

Is doomed. You can maybe get someone to say they accept whatever it is in order to end the argument and get you to go away, but you better believe they’re still stewing inside and now have some extra angst that’s directed at you for pushing them.

What if your boyfriend’s parents want you to call them mom and dad?

It sounds like you don’t want to call them Mom and Dad, so, don’t. Say, “That is a very sweet suggestion and I am glad you want us to be close, but I only want to call my own parents that. Can we come up with something else, like, Mr./Mrs. ______ or first names? Thank you.

This is not a normal thing, especially if you guys are unmarried, so stand your ground.

“Speed-friending London.”

GO! And tell us all about it.

Seducing my friend’s girlfriend advice.

Don’t seduce your friend’s girlfriend. That’s my advice.

“How to tell if my best friend’s girlfriend want to have sex with me?”

Assume she doesn’t until you hear the words “Let’s have sex!” come out of her mouth.

“If I send a face book message and they read it and its marked read then why does the read status disappear when they block themselves from me?

Ok, to answer the question you didn’t ask, stop reading over those messages looking for signs of this person’s attention to what you had to say. To answer the one you asked, blocking you severs that relationship on the interface level. Suggestion: Delete the messages. Block them right back. Anything so you aren’t spending one more precious day of your life pouring over communications from someone who clearly doesn’t want to talk to you.

“Making your girlfriend do what you want although she might be busy.”

Ask her to spend time with you. If she’s busy, do something else with your day. If she’s consistently too busy, ask her to talk about how you guys spend time together and tell her how it makes you feel. If she’s still consistently too busy, break up. There is no “making” here – she’s either enthusiastically spending time with you or she isn’t. You can make requests and make decisions about whether that works for you, but that’s where your making powers end.

Girlfriend willing but doesn’t want to have sex.”

Then you don’t have sex with her, and you let that be a thing she initiates.

“I want my nude pictures on the internet.”

From all reports, the Internet is ok with that.

“10shart fuck only vidios opan ok

It’s out there, somewhere. 10 sharts! Be steadfast in your quest.

“Will a guy test you by being a jerk?”

The guys who do this are probably failing your personal “That guy’s a jerk” test. Rather than seeing it as some test that someone eventually passes (um, yay?), maybe see it as a guy acting like a jerk and make decisions accordingly.

How to write a letter to my boyfriend’s jealous ex.

Do not write  a letter to your boyfriend’s jealous ex. It will not make her go away, it will just show that whatever she’s doing is getting to you. The only thing that will make her go away, eventually,  is if both of you starve her of attention.

“Boyfriend not interested my life.”

Let me correct that for you. “My ex-boyfriend was not interested in my life.” Roll that around on the tongue a few times. How does it sound?

“Only depressed before and during work.”

No guarantees, obviously, but a new and different job might clear that right up.

“Should I breakup with my boyfriend if I don’t love him any more?”

Do what you want, but this is literally THE most airtight reason to break up with someone.

“I can’t break up with my boyfriend because he was my first.”

You can break up with someone for any reason. “I don’t want to be in this relationship anymore” is a good reason.

The connection with a first love and/or first sex partner is very intense and lovely and wonderful, but having that connection with someone & making a long-term happy life with someone are not necessarily congruent. Breakups are hard, even when they are for the right reasons, but with time you will bounce back and so will he.

If your high school sex-ed was all about previously chewed gum, plucked daisies, used Kleenex, etc. I am here to tell you those people were sadistic lying assholes. Get thee to Scarleteen.

“Should I pretend to drunk text him?”

What is it that you want to say to him? What if you said it completely sober and completely sincerely?

“How to text a drunk girl.”

What would you say to this girl if she were sober? Try that.

“How to apologize after drunk text.”

Text/Call/Say in person: “Sorry, I was not my best self the other night and am feeling pretty embarrassed.”

Go forth and text, and drink, responsibly. An occasional drunk text can be funny/flirtatious. A cycle of oversharing & apology? Gets annoying really fast.

“Drunk texts to let guy know you like him.”

Okay, okay, I get it. It’s awkward to make yourself vulnerable, and being drunk lowers inhibitions and also gives the illusion of an excuse if the person doesn’t respond the way you want – “Ha ha, no, I was kidding, I was drunk.” I too have made out on the Couch of Plausible Deniability Where We Are Going To Watch A Movie, I Swear.

Drunk texts are not wrong, and if you’re having fun with it, text away! Get your flirt on, people! But if you’re strategizing about this? Maybe it’s time for a “I think you are handsome and cool and would love to go on a date sometime. Have you ever thought about it?

“We made out drunk and he texted me next day.”

Unless he’s sending you insults, it sounds like he’s nice, actually, and making an effort to reach out while sober. There’s no obligation, but if you wanted to hang out again, it sounds like he’s at least open to the idea. Biggest question right now is what do you want to happen now?

“How does being an introvert affect communication?”

Not that much, in my opinion. Introverts need a fair amount of alone time to recharge their batteries and may prefer hanging in smaller groups/quieter spaces. But they CAN and DO communicate just the same as anyone else, including doing very people-centered jobs very well and having an active social life. Introversion vs. extroversion is about preference/style/feeling energized by social contact vs. depleted, not ability, and knowing someone is an introvert is not a predictor or prescriptor of anything. Individuals have differing communications styles, so take your cues from your own preferences or from how a specific person responds to you.

“Do professors like their students to thank them?”

Who wouldn’t like to know that their work affected someone for the better? It’s not necessary or expected that students thank us (the best thanks is you doing your best work and going on to do well), but “I really enjoyed your class” is a very nice thing to hear, especially after grades are in, and especially when it contains some info about what you are currently working on/doing next.

“I fell in love with my professor.”

I’m not going to tell you those feelings aren’t real, but I am going to tell you there’s too much yucky power differential stuff for this to be a good idea to pursue while you are a student at that school. I have a massive side-eye for any professor who would respond positively to romantic or sexual advances from a student. Holy abuse of power and trust, Batman!

“I want to have sex with my therapist.”

This is a REALLY bad idea. Illegal in some cases, the stuff of license-revoking in others, for a good reason. A therapist who has sex with patients is a NO GOOD VERY BAD THERAPIST who is abusing trust and power. Being able to trust and open up to someone compassionate can bring up all kinds of feelings, especially if your therapist is also foxy. But not all feelings need to be acted on, and a good therapist is going to set an ironclad boundary here.

“My mom doesn’t want me to masturbate.”

Good thing it’s not up to her. It’s completely none of her business, in fact, and is strictly between you and you. Masturbation is awesome. Rock on with your sexy self. Also, get thee to Scarleteen.

“What if a guy says it’s awkward and might want to break up.”

When people say stuff like this, believe them. He’s giving you advance warning and telling you that breaking up is on his mind. Start to make your peace with ending the relationship.

“How can I tell my daughter I found a partner for her.”

If you’re from an Arranged Marriages Are A-Okay culture, how did your parents tell you this stuff? I feel like there will be some rituals and scripts around this that are widely-known and your daughter will be expecting some conversation like this to take place.

If you’re not from that kind of culture (and honestly, probably even if you are), I would not talk in terms of “partner” or “husband” or “wife.” At all. That’s putting the cart waaaaaaaaaay before the horse about something that is ultimately not your decision.

Possible script: “Daughter, I met someone who I think you’d really get along with and would like to put you in touch. Can I give you his/her contact information?”

Then you drop the subject. Forever. And you do NOT give your daughter’s contact info to this person, or try to sell them on your daughter. No hinting. No pushing. No inviting the person over for a “Surprise! You two should probably mate!” dinner.

“What does it mean when someone says you have a heart of a bullet and a mind of a boss?”

Take it as a compliment, because if it’s not, your bullet-heart and boss-mind don’t have time for that anyway. Maybe write a song about it.

“Am I a bitch for leaving my boyfriend to take care of myself?”

From where I sit, you are a person who made a hard decision and I wish you all the best. Get on with the job of taking care of yourself, part of which is forgiving yourself and being gentle and kind to yourself and not calling yourself mean names.

Love,

Captain Awkward

I lied the other day when I said I was out of letters.  I have at least four in my inbox that go like this:

Backstory, backstory, backstory, backstory, backstory, backstory….So, then I “unfriended” (my cousin, old high school friend, coworker, ex) from Facebook, and he/she wrote me a giant sad email and/or called everyone we know in common crying and throwing a big stink.  Was I wrong to “unfriend”/should I add this person back/what do I do now?

My answer is fairly simple:

1) You were not wrong to “unfriend.”

2) Under no very few circumstances should you add this person back into your e-life.

3) What you should say now is some variation of “I’m sorry I hurt your feelings, but I was not enjoying our online interactions very much and would prefer to just catch up with you at parties/at the holidays/at work/whenever I run into you.  Take care.

Nobody has figured out how to use social media perfectly without any problems or conflict, ever because nobody has figured out how to have any human interaction without any problems or conflict.  So I don’t have rules for what you should do, but I do have some (sometimes radical) suggestions for how to make the whole thing enjoyable for you.  In no particular order:

  1. “I like you” does not always mean “I want to interact with you constantly online.”
  2. You can refuse any “friend” request for any reason, without giving a reason.  Someone who hounds you about this just proves that you didn’t want to be “friends” with them.
  3. Anyone can refuse a “friend” request from you for any reason, without giving a reason.  If you find this painful and confusing, re-read the Geek Social Fallacies.  Move on.  If the person is really your friend, you won’t need Facebook to tell you.
  4. Sometimes people have parties and they don’t invite you.  It’s not 2nd grade where every kid in the class gets a Valentine.  If you see that you weren’t invited to something, and you ask the hosts “Why wasn’t I invited?” the fact that you asked that question is your answer.  You are the kind of person who would ask that question.
  5. Employers Google you.  Potential dating partners Google you. Your mom Googles you. Lawyers in legal cases you may be involved in Google you.  I just Googled you.  Use common sense about what information you make public and make sure you clearly understand the privacy settings of the services you use.
  6. That said, I don’t think you have to be a completely sterile, Stepford-version of yourself online.  If you aren’t going to be authentic about your personality and opinions, why even bother?
  7. Some of your family members get that you are a grown-up person who is separate from them, and they are interested in interacting with the person you are now.  Go ahead and “friend” if you want to.
  8. Some of your family members are way too invested in your business and giving them access to you online will be a never-ending headache and source of drama and intrusion because they called your mom to tell her about the time you said “fuck” on the Internet. These people, blood relatives though they be, can’t hang. “Unfriend” at will.
  9. I’m trying to figure out how to explain this one to the old folks.  People, especially young people, use social media to interact with many different audiences.  It’s weird to think of a conversation that’s happening in such a public space that you can eavesdrop on as being not your business, but not everything you read on Facebook or Twitter, even public posts, are your business.  If you don’t get the joke, assume it’s not directed at you.  If you see questionable behavior or things you don’t approve of, and the person involved is a free adult and not a minor under your control, you’ll be happier if you just assume it’s not your business.
  10. Facebook is not the right medium for deeply emotional interactions. Keep it light, and when it’s not light, pick up the phone.
  11. If you’re posting photos of your friends, cull the unflattering ones!  It’s just considerate.
  12. If Facebook is causing you constant anxiety and unhappiness, log the fuck off and find other ways of interacting with people.  If you are constantly monitoring who has “friended” and “unfriended” you and keeping score and worrying about this, you are doing it wrong. If it’s not fun for you, don’t use it.

Anything to add?  Questions?  Thoughts?  Tales of terrible Facebook drama that bleeds over into real life? (Confidential to D.:  The code word is “Mango.”)  I tend to have a thicker skin about this stuff, so I’m especially interested in hearing alternate viewpoints from the Highly Sensitive People among us.

PROMOTE! PROMOTE! PROMOTE!

I like this post about how to promote yourself without being a jerk.  I’ve been linking CaptainAwkward.com hardcore on the Book of the Face and the Twitter. This is a good reminder that you have to self-promote your work (no one else will), so don’t feel ashamed, but also don’t be such a Dalek about it.

Penelope Trunk is brilliant about “thinking outside the box”, as in, it is a phrase that generally means “I don’t like any of your ideas” and the people who are great at innovating are the ones who spend a lot of time thinking about the box itself.

Sady Doyle has a baseline of being a pretty great writer, but sometimes she even transcends herself.   I recently read a critique of feminism right now “a bunch of bloggers writing about the pop culture that’s oppressing them,” can’t remember where, except…it was posted on a blog.  Sady writes about how stories shape us and warp us and sometimes save our lives.  Here are three great recent things:

1. Running Towards Gunshots:  A Few Words About Joan of Arc:  “And I don’t know if I believe in Jesus, but I believe in Joan of Arc… I ended up finding the trial transcripts online. Because I’d never read them before, and I was over the whole religion thing, but I ended up finding out that she was a real person. This real,  live, bitchy, funny, charming, smart, obstinate/contumacious/disobedient, gender-inappropriate, charismatic, determined person, who somehow managed to happen, a really long time ago. I don’t know what I believe about the God thing. But I believe that we’re human beings, and that the range of human possibility includes Joan of Arc.”

2. Ellen Ripley Saved My Life:

At a certain point, you have to ask yourself why certain stories are so important to you. Why they become, not just entertainment, but myth: Something you use to explain yourself to yourself, or to explain the world. A thousand times, on Dr. Who, the lady Companion insists that the Doctor will save them, and every time, the people are all “BUT PERHAPS THIS TIME HE WON’T AND WE ARE SCREWED THOUGH,” and every time, the music swells and the Doctor comes and he saves as many people as he can. And you love it, every time it happens. Because that’s the story you need: There is someone out there, someone good and wise and kind, and he will always come to save you. I mean, I get it. Some people go to church for less.

But for me, it’s always been about the girls. Specifically, the Strong Woman Action Heroines: Scully and Buffy, Starbuck in the “Battlestar Galactica” reboot, Ripley and Vasquez and, hell, even Tasha Yar. I love this; I need this; I eat it up. And yet, my relationship with the Strong Woman Action Heroine is… complicated? Let’s say complicated. And let me take a minute, or several, to explain how.

3. No One’s Ever On Your Side:  Betty Draper Francis Still Needs Your Love.

“We wanted Betty to read The Feminine Mystique and get her mind blown and rise above; or, we wanted her to stay a victim, so we could relate to her better, or at least keep feeling sorry for her. But sometimes, people just get damaged until they start damaging. Sometimes, people are lost. We hate Betty now because she’s not going to stay a victim, but the truth is, she’s also not going to be saved.

It was the scenes with the child psychiatrist that did it for me. Some will argue that January Jones is a terrible actress, and to them I submit: The scenes in the child psychiatrist’s office. She became an entirely different person for those few minutes of film; you could see her getting softer, and sweeter, and more human, every second. All because someone — a woman, older than her, an authority figure — talked to her gently, and quietly, and responded to her worst, yikesiest statements only with, “that must be a terrible feeling.” You know: It really must be. All of Betty’s feelings must be so, so terrible. But it was clear, even then, that this woman was scared of her, and scared for her daughter. You could see the potential for Betty to heal, in those few scenes. But that wasn’t the message of the scenes themselves. The message was that her chance was gone; she wasn’t a child any more, and she had to be judged by adult standards. She still needs love, so badly, but she just doesn’t deserve it any more, and giving it to her is just too risky. Help came too late. And how many stories is that, really?”

And finally my good friend Manboobz has been making milk come out of my nose with his descriptions (with examples!) of what happens when men who really hate women try to date them.

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